The Real Reason Kellogg's Corn Flakes Has A Rooster Mascot

Corn Flakes are the product of a mistake. According to Serious Eats, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, a staunch vegetarian, was immersed in a health movement known as "biological living," the tenets of which included more bathing, more exercising, and consuming less meat and more whole grains. In 1877, he was trying to create an alternative breakfast for Americans, who then typically started their day with a large meal. His quest led to the development of a dough that was inadvertently left out overnight. When the stale dough was rolled out, it flaked, and Kellogg, along with his brother Will, decided to bake it anyway. What we now know as cereal was invented in that moment.

After experimenting with different grains, corn was deemed the most viable substance, and Corn Flakes were born. Will Kellogg bought the rights to the cereal, added malt, sugar, and salt — much to the chagrin of his health-conscious brother — and in 1906, he launched the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company (per Kellogg's).

Though Corn Flakes was the first cereal produced by Kellogg's, the iconic breakfast food that revolutionized the American breakfast was not the first of their products to be represented by a mascot, per Pop Icon. Tony the Tiger and those rascals Snap, Crackle, and Pop were already the faces of their respective cereals, when, in the late 1950's, Kellogg's decided to replace the "Sweetheart of Corn" that had been gracing boxes with none other than Cornelius Rooster, per Daily Post U.K.

Starting the day the Corn Flakes way

The idea of a rooster signifies the start to a good morning, and it fit in well with Kellogg's marketing strategy for Corn Flakes. But, that's not why the mascot, developed by the Leo Burnett agency and affectionately known as Corny (per Pop Icon), was chosen to represent the cereal. According to Wales Online, Will Kellogg and Welsh harpist Nansi Richards crossed paths while she was on tour Stateside, and she suggested using the rooster — as it turns out, the word for rooster in Welsh, "ceilog," sounded just like Kellogg. Rumor has it that the bright green and red colors assigned to the creature were also actually an homage to the Welsh flag.

Cornelius the Rooster debuted on cereal boxes in 1957. The marketing campaign did indeed play on the crowing of the rooster as the start of a good day, as the confident Corny could only crow after he ate his Corn Flakes. The tagline, "Nothing gets you crowing in the morning like Kellogg's Corn Flakes," per Retro Planet, cemented the idea that a day just isn't a good day without the cereal. It's been reported that Corn Flakes are even the way Queen Elizabeth prefers to start her day — as she is still a robust working royal at 95-years-old, it looks like there just might be some substance to the "healthy breakfast" thing that Dr. Kellogg was so obsessed with. Go figure.