Charles William Post
Charles William Post grew up in Illinois, and after a brief stint in the Springfield Governor Guards, he and a friend headed west to seek their fortunes. They opened a hardware store.
After only a year, Post sold his half of the shop and moved back to Illinois, where he got married. He promptly left his bride behind for a career as a traveling salesman.
In 1880, Post manufactured an improved seed planter, and a year later he formed Illinois Agricultural Works to sell the machines. He patented several farm machines.
Business was good. Post was 27 years old, and so exhausted from all his hard work that his health began to deteriorate. After a nervous collapse in 1890, he went to the Battle Creek, Michigan, sanitarium of John Kellogg to recover.
Kellogg had started a veritable breakfast cereal revolution in Battle Creek. In 1901, in fact, 40 companies were incorporated in the city to manufacture wheat flakes. Kellogg’s health sanitarium was nationally known, but it could do nothing for Post.
After nine months, Dr. Kellogg pronounced his case hopeless. Mrs. Post would not believe it. She took her ailing husband to a practitioner of Christian Science. He recovered under her care.
He published a book called I Am Well about his recovery and started his own rival health food business. His first product was a coffee substitute, Postum. Three years later, he perfected Grape Nuts. Many other cereals were to follow.