To generations of American youngsters, Battle Creek was the home of Tony the Tiger, that g-r-r-r-e-a-t and magical place where they sent their cereal box tops in exchange for free gifts and toys. For decades before that, however, Battle Creek was known as the home of the Church of Seventh-Day Adventists and for the work done at the church’s sanitarium, the Western Health Reform Institute, which opened in 1866.
John Harvey Kellogg joined the founders in 1876 and spent the next 25 years developing the sanitarium into an institution recognized around the world for its regimen of hydrotherapy, exercise, and vegetarian diet. Part of that regimen was a new, healthy grain-based flaked breakfast that Kellogg cooked up in 1894. An alternative to traditional breakfast foods such as grits, bacon, and eggs, Kellogg’s creation went on to revolutionize the breakfast-foods industry and to fuel the economy of this former settlement.
From 1901 to 1905, more than 1,500 new homes cropped up to house the workers and others who converged on Battle Creek, hoping to capitalize on its renown as the “Health City.” (This bizarre tale was the basis for The Road to Wellville, a 1994 Hollywood film starring Anthony Hopkins, which painted a not-too-positive portrait of the Kellogg family and phenomenon.)
Today, Battle Creek is still home to the Kellogg Company as well as Post Cereals (recently transferred from Kraft Foods to Ralcorp). It’s also home to the World’s Longest Breakfast Table, a downtown event held as part of the annual Battle Creek Cereal Festival in June.
Getting to Battle Creek
Battle Creek is accessible via plane, train, bus, and, naturally, car. The Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport (AZO) (5235 Portage Rd., Kalamazoo, 269/388-3668, www.azoairport.com) is situated about 25 miles to the west. Both Amtrak (800/872-7245, www.amtrak.com) and Greyhound (800/231-2222, www.greyhound.com) serve the same station (104 Capital Ave. SW).
If you have a car, you can reach Battle Creek via I-94, I-69, and several state highways. Once here, you can either stick with your car, opt for a bicycle, or use Battle Creek Transit (269/966-3474).
by Laura Martone from Moon Michigan, 3rd Edition, © Avalon Travel