1895: Revenge Tastes Like Peanut Butter

Rachel Angelin, guest writer

“Please keep an eye on John. He doesn’t know what he is doing, and he needs someone to guide him. I think that person is you, Theodore.”
* * *
Theodore Campbell woke up in his small, messy office. He had fallen asleep once again. His boss would surely be cross with him.
“Campbell!” roared a gruff voice. “I had better not find you sleeping again! We have work to do!”
Theo rushed to sort the papers strewn on his desk and frantically smoothed out his wrinkled shirt. As he heard footsteps approaching the door, he attempted to make himself seem productive.
“How much have you gotten done, Campbell?”
Theo turned around to see his boss, John Harvey Kellogg, leaning against the doorframe.
“I’m almost done. I only have about a page left,” he replied, praying John wouldn’t investigate.
“Hurry up, then,” sighed John, “because I’m going to need your help out here soon.”
As his boss’s footsteps grew quieter, Theo leaned back in his chair and let out a sigh. He had the dream again. Ever since his friend, Ellen White, came to him, concerned about John, he hadn’t had a wink of sleep. Each time he tried to fall asleep, images of his conversation with her would run through his mind.
* * *
“Why did you call me here?” Theo asked Ellen, a close family friend, one afternoon at her home.
“I asked you to come here because I’m worried about my friend, John. He has let anger cloud his mind and I fear he will make grave mistakes. When John was twelve, my husband, James, took him under his wing and taught him the ways of the printing business. James thought of him as our own son. At twenty-one, John became chief editorial assistant, then editor, for the Adventist Health Reformer. He soon became fascinated in dieting and health. Last year, he and his brother, Will, invented wheat flakes and used them for chewing exercises for his patients.”
“I’ve read about his work. He’s an amazing, influential man,” beamed Theo, who strived to be as great as John one day.
“I’m very proud of him for all his hard work to help people with their health, but James wasn’t so keen. He and other leaders of the church criticized John because they thought he was veering off God’s path. John has always been hot-tempered, and the men’s words made him become obsessed with revenge.”
Theo stood there, trying to process everything he had just heard.
“Wow, I- I don’t know what to say. It’s so much to take in.”
“I know, but I have a favor to ask of you in all of this. I know you are a fan of John, and have been wanting to become a scientist, so I thought you could get some experience by being his assistant.”
“You got me a job as John Harvey Kellogg’s assistant?” Theo exclaimed. “The John Harvey Kellogg, who is in charge of the Battle Creek Sanitarium, invented meat substitutes and a grain version of coffee, and ‘revolutionized the American Diet’ (John)?”
“Yes,” Ellen chuckled, “that John Harvey Kellogg.”
“Wow. This is a dream come true, Ellen, but why me?” Theo questioned.
“I worry that he will let his anger get the best of him. Please keep an eye on John. He doesn’t know what he is doing and needs someone to guide him. I think that person is you, Theodore.”
* * *
After three months of being John’s assistant, it still felt surreal to Theo. Some days he had to remind himself that he is, in fact, working for John Harvey Kellogg. Shaking the thoughts out of his head, he stood up from his chair and headed out of his office, hoping he hadn’t made his boss wait too long.
As he got to the lab, Theo found John scrutinizing a stack of papers on one of the tables. Looking over his boss’s shoulder, he noticed that they were countless formulas and a blueprint for a mysterious box. It almost looked like a bo-
“Oh, there you are, Theodore,” John said, sliding the blueprint under some other papers. “I have some work for you. I need you to work out some more formulas for me. I need to leave early and stop by my friend Samuel’s house. A good friend, Elias Disney, is visiting from Illinois. We are celebrating the opening of his first contracting office.”
“I’ll get right to it, sir,” Theo replied.
“Lock up when you’re done,” said John, packing up his briefcase, “and I’ll see you in the morning. Goodbye, Theodore.”
The slam of the lab door cut Theo off before he could finish his sentence. Silence echoed through the empty room, and he sighed before turning to head back to his office. Passing by the table littered with paper, he remembered the blueprint his boss hid from him just moments earlier. After a couple minutes of searching, he eventually found the mysterious piece of paper and examined it. He was right; John was trying to create a bomb! Ellen was right to be worried about him getting revenge! Terrified, Theo returned the paper back to its hiding spot and rushed back to his office, unsure of what to do.
* * *
Another day at work, another day to survive. It’s been five months since Theo found out his boss was going to build a bomb, and it is almost finished. He has no idea what do. He tried going to the police, but no one would believe that the John Harvey Kellogg was building a bomb. He tried to warn James, but Mr. White just laughed and claimed that “no nice boy like John was capable of such hatred.”
Theo eventually got to his office and, shaking the stressful thoughts out of his head, began to work on his daily paperwork, which had a level of fun equivalent to that of a ball of dryer lint. While filling out the forms, Theo began to nod off. Just as he was about to drift into dreamland, the voice of his boss rang out.
“Campbell, get in here! I need your help,” shouted John, his voice muffled slightly. “Coming, sir!”
Theo quickly organized the things on his desk and rushed out the door of his office, not wanting to make his boss wait any longer.
“What do you need my help for?” he asked as he came up to the table that John was occupying. Covering the table were countless beakers and vials full of vibrant-colored liquids.
“As you know,” announced John, “I’ve been working on a special project for a couple of months now. I have completed the technical aspect of the project, but I want you to help me assemble it!”
“I- I feel honored, sir,” replied a surprised Theo. He may have seemed excited, but deep down he was terrified of what this ‘secret project’ may entail.
“Can you hand me that blue liquid?”
Theo reached across the table to retrieve the sky-colored substance and handed it to the older man.
“Thank you, Theodore. Now, I need the peanut oil to the left of you.” Once again, the needed ingredient was passed over to the scientist.
After a while of this, John asked for one last ingredient.
“Ok, we’re almost done. The project only needs one more thing and then it will be complete,” John exclaimed with a tired smile. After all, being an evil scientist was hard work. “I need some nitroglycerin. It’s in a container marked ‘nitro’ in the storage room.”
Theo walked down the hall to the dimly-lit storage room. Stepping inside, he saw the walls lined with various jars of all sizes. After a while of searching, he finally found the right ingredient. Then, he remembered his talk with Ellen and how he needed to help John. He took the nitroglycerin and the jar next to it, switched the labels, and walked out the door with the ‘nitroglycerin’ in hand.
* * *
Theo’s ears rang from the explosion that just occurred. The blue liquid had combined with the peanut oil and ‘nitroglycerin’ to create a chemical reaction, exploding right in the two mens’ faces.
“What happened? Why are we not dead? What went wrong? If this is your fault, Campbell, I’m going to be s- oh, this tastes good,” John exclaims. He scooped some residue of the explosion onto his finger and stuck it in his mouth.
“I switched the nitroglycerin with powdered sugar, sir,” Theo said shyly, praying to God that he wouldn’t be killed for disobeying orders.
* * *
After that day, John Harvey Kellogg went on to make a form of peanut butter out of his failed experiment (minus the mysterious blue liquid, of course). He and James White became like son and father once again, working together in the printing business. He continued to run the Battle Creek Sanitarium, and lived a life less evil than before.

Works Cited
“It Happened Today.” Disney History, http://thisdayindisneyhistory.homestead.com/feb06.html.
n.d. Web. 6 Feb. 2018.
“Ellen G. White.” Wikipedia, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellen_G._White. 8 Feb. 2018
“John Harvey Kellogg.” Encyclopedia, www.encyclopedia.com. 6 Feb. 2018.
Kramer, Jon. Creamy & Crunchy. Columbia Union Press, 2013. Print.
Schwarz, Richard W. John Harvey Kellogg: Pioneering Health Reformer. Hagerstown, MD:
Review and Herald, 2006. Print.
“Who Invented Peanut Butter?” National Peanut Board. www.nationalpeanutboard.org. n.d.
Web. 6 Feb. 2018.