Ancel Benjamin Keys

Managing Real Estate Broker with Fathom Realty PB00068179

Ancel Benjamin Keys was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado back in 1904 to Benjamin and Carolyn.  In 1906, the family moved to San Francisco, then to Berkeley.  He left school taking odd jobs, one was shoveling bat guano in Arizona and a powder monkey in a Colorado mine.  He eventually finished his secondary education and was admitted to the University of California, Berkeley in 1922.

He graduated with a B.A. in economics and political science in 1925, and a M.S. in zoology in 1928.  In 1930, he received his Ph.D. in oceanography and biology.  After graduation he taught at Harvard University, in 1936, he earned a second Ph.D. in physiology.  He studied fish to estimate the weight of fish from their length. Later he would conduct studies at different heights in the Andes.  During WWII, he conducted various studies related to human physical performance that was of interest to the military.  He retired from the University of Minnesota in 1972.  He died in 2004, two months before his 101st birthday.

What you may not know about Ancel is that in 1937 he developed the K-ration.  The rations weighed on 28oz, but provided 3200 calories per day. 

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Comments (17)

Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Joe - Mr Keys was obviously a very smart man with a history of making things happen.  Another good story.  

Jan 31, 2021 03:49 AM
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Thank you very much, James, for sharing this story.

Take care, be safe and have a great day.

Jan 31, 2021 04:11 AM
Barbara Tattersall
Keller Williams Realty Metropolitan (Keene,NH) - Keene, NH

Hi James,

When I started to read about his early jobs...bats and mines..I thought he would pass due to respiratory ailments at about 30!  Instead, he seems to have had an amazing, productive and very long life. Thank you for another interesting story.

Jan 31, 2021 04:21 AM
Brian England
Vacasa - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

Even though I live in Arizona, I have never shoveled bat guano and I hope that I never have to, haha.

Jan 31, 2021 04:45 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Good morning again, James... certainly an invention that proved critical for our military. 

Jan 31, 2021 05:08 AM
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning James. Many were helped by K-rations but the ones I tried were not very tasty! Enjoy your day.

Jan 31, 2021 05:35 AM
Raymond E. Camp
Howard Hanna Real Estate Services - Ontario, NY
Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester

Good morning James,

It's kind of like survival training but probably better for you!

Make yourself an astonishing day.

Jan 31, 2021 05:41 AM
Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy


Ancel was very creative.  I have heard that the K rations were not exactly gourmet fare.  But plain old sustenance is important.  A

Jan 31, 2021 06:54 AM
faye schubert
Branson, MO
Living the Branson Lake Life

What a brilliant man, who contributed greatly to our world. 

Jan 31, 2021 07:46 AM
Rocky Dickerson
Realty One Group - Las Vegas, NV
Superior Service!

Good morning James Dray I remember those!  My dad had a dozen or so left over from the Navy and I found them to be an adventure.

Jan 31, 2021 08:42 AM
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Hello James Dray, smart man but my dad would tell me of how they hated them in World War II.


Jan 31, 2021 08:50 AM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi James Dray - Another unsung Hero, who provided our military with an amazing way to feed thousands of personnel during war and deployment. 

Jan 31, 2021 09:00 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi James:

He certainly led a diverse life. That invention served the military forces well!

Jan 31, 2021 11:12 AM
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Hi James- I've heard of K-rations but not much more, and now I know much more. 

Jan 31, 2021 01:22 PM
Debe Maxwell, CRS | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
The right Charlotte REALTOR!

I've never had a K-ration but my brother who was in the Air Force has. He said they aren't very tasty but they provide the necessary nutrition when nothing else is available.

Jan 31, 2021 02:27 PM
Bob "RealMan" Timm
Ward County Notary Services - Minot, ND
Owner of Ward Co. Notary Services, retired Realtor

What a diverse person Ancil was James Dray . Maybe, if we are forced to isolate for a long period of time due to C-19 executive orders, K-rations will make a comeback soon.

Jan 31, 2021 05:54 PM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Ha ha most people remember C-rations, having served time in the military I am familiar with K- rations too:)Endre

Jan 31, 2021 09:05 PM