Today is Squirrel Appreciation Day! And no one appreciated squirrels as much as Dr. J.H. Kellogg.

Visit any park in Battle Creek, and you’ll likely see a flash of fluffy tail as a black squirrel runs by. These animals can be found everywhere, thanks to Dr. Kellogg.

While the squirrels around here have black fur, they are technically grey squirrels. According to an article in the Battle Creek Enquirer from 1915, Dr. Kellogg imported 300 grey squirrels.

He told the newspaper he had fond memories of these squirrels from his youth and wanted to restore them to Battle Creek.

The newspaper said “if they are protected and fed they will become as tame here as they are in Ann Arbor and the Detroit and Chicago parks where they are never molested and are common pets.”

Tell that to the locals who have squirrels in their bird feeders.

Dr. Kellogg, of course, brought more to Battle Creek than squirrels. The surgeon, inventor and health guide was in charge of the Battle Creek Sanitarium. In-between hospital work and hobnobbing with the famous, Dr. Kellogg was interested in research.

He and his brother, W.K. Kellogg, needed a vegetarian food that was easier to chew than zweiback biscuits. Their experiments in the kitchen led to the process for making flaked cereal. 

Eventually, W.K. would start the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Co. As the new breakfast phenomenon caught on, there would be more than 100 cereal manufacturers listed in Battle Creek.

Speaking of W.K., he indirectly made a contribution to the spread of squirrels, as well.

According to the Battle Creek Enquirer, W.K. donated farm land to the Michigan State College of Agriculture. Squirrels from that land were captured and relocated to the campus in the late ’50s and early ’60s. Nowadays, every student is familiar with dodging the squirrels that run across the walking paths and bike trails.