The Hygienic Cook Book

Published in Battle Creek, Michigan, in 1876, this volume in the American Antiquarian Cookbook Collection by a well-known American physician proposes one of the early health-food diets in American culinary history. It provides information about preparing a diet free from spices, vinegar, condiments, aged cheese, tea, and coffee, as well as meat, dairy, and eggs, all to deliver the ultimate health. 

Published in 1876 in Michigan, The Hygienic Cook Book was part of the 19th century health reform movement that stressed a vegetarian diet to achieve wellness. Author John Harvey Kellogg, an American physician, took the health reformer’s diet even further by emphasizing abstinence from caffeine, alcohol, spices, condiments, dairy, eggs, and vinegar. Kellogg believed that “[c]ondiments are innutritious and irritating….they irritate the digestive organs, impairing their tone and deranging their function.” Above all, he stressed the importance of bowel health for an overall healthy body. 


Along with tips for reforming the diet as well as reasons for abstaining from animal products, spices, and condiments, The Hygienic Cook Book also contains wholesome recipes such as Johnny Cakes, Potato Bread, Apple Brown Bread, Graham Crackers, and Peach Toast. While Kellogg’s hygienic diet might not be for all tastes, The Hygienic Cook Book offers a fascinating look into the 19th century’s new focus on a healthier diet.


This edition of The Hygienic Cook Book was reproduced by permission from the volume in the collection of the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts. Founded in 1812 by Isaiah Thomas, a Revolutionary War patriot and successful printer and publisher, the society is a research library documenting the lives of Americans from the colonial era through 1876. The society collects, preserves, and makes available as complete a record as possible of the printed materials from the early American experience. The cookbook collection comprises approximately 1,100 volumes.

About the Author

John Harvey Kellogg was an American physician born in Michigan in 1852. He founded a sanitarium focusing on nutrition, vegetarianism, and exercise, and with his brother, he invented the common breakfast cereal cornflakes. Kellogg helped establish the American Medical Missionary College and was an early advocate for pasteurizing milk before drinking it. Besides The Hygienic Cook Book, Kellogg authored several other books, including Plain Facts for Old and Young, New Dietetics, and Ladies' Guide in Health and Disease. He died of pneumonia in 1942.    

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