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C. W. Post

AKA Charles William Post

Born: 26-Oct-1854
Birthplace: Springfield, IL
Died: 9-May-1914
Location of death: Santa Barbara, CA
Cause of death: Suicide
Remains: Buried, Oak Hill Cemetery, Battle Creek, MI

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Business

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Invented Postum and Grape-Nuts

Military service: Illinois National Guard

C. W. Post had little success in his early adulthood -- he dropped out of college, operated a general store, worked as a traveling salesman, managed a farm equipment company, and speculated in real estate with little profit. His second nervous breakdown brought him under the care of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg at the Battle Creek Sanatorium, and Post was convinced that Kellogg had cured him with an all-grain diet. Upon his release from Kellogg's sanatorium Post wrote his book I Am Well! and opened his own health clinic, La Vita Inn, serving all-grain foods inspired by the meals Kellogg had offered. In 1895 Post began selling an all-grain coffee substitute he called Postum Food Coffee. Over subsequent years he introduced Grape-Nuts (containing neither grapes nor nuts) and Elijah's Manna (re-named Post Toasties after protests that the original name was sacrilegious). In 1899 he established the Battle Creek Box Company to package his foods.

In mass-marketing his products, Post bragged in flamboyant advertisements that his foods made blood redder and would put consumers on "the road to Wellville". His cereals made Post a millionaire, and with advancing age he became more and more eccentric. In his 50s he experimented with using dynamite to draw rain, and purchased 200,000 acres in Texas for a planned community to be called Post City. Fiercely anti-labor, in 1903 he founded the Citizens' Industrial Association, dedicated to having "the rights of property protected and legislation of a Socialistic nature prevented from being enacted into law".

Ill with appendicitis, Post had a private train speed him from California to the Mayo Clinic, and underwent immediate surgery. Still suffering great pain, however, he killed himself using a rifle, pulling the trigger with his toes while in bed. After his death, the Postum company eventually evolved into General Foods. His daughter's four husbands included banker Edwin Close, paternal grandfather of actress Glenn Close, and stockbroker E. F. Hutton. Her daughter, Post's granddaughter, is Dina Merrill, owner of RKO Radio Pictures and ex-wife of Cliff Robertson. Post's utopian town of Post, Texas, is now home to about 4,000 people.

Father: Charles Rollin Post (b. 1826, d. 1919)
Mother: Caroline Cushman Lathrop Post (poet, b. 1824, m. 1851, d. 1914)
Wife: Ella Merriweather Post (childhood sweetheart, b. 1853, m. 1874, div., d. 1912, one daughter)
Daughter: Marjorie Merriweather Post Close Hutton Davies May (b. 1887, d. 1973)
Wife: Leila Young Post Montgomery (Post's secretary)

    University: University of Illinois (attended 1869)

    General Foods Founder of Postum Cereal Co. (1895)
    Nervous Breakdown
    English Ancestry
    Risk Factors: Depression

Author of books:
I am well!: The Modern Practice of Natural Suggestion as Distinct from Hypnotic or Unnatural Influence (1881)

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