It is well known that circumcision can be traced back to ancient Egypt. Culturally, it is still prevalent among Jewish and Islamic families, but is also fairly common throughout the US. The reason for this is partly because of American cornflake magnate John Harvey Kellogg.
Kellogg declared a ‘war on masturbation’ at the end of the 19th century, which sparked an ‘anti-masturbation hysteria’ in society. This was in part because he was an influential politician. Many doctors thought that masturbation would lead to exhaustion, paralysis, and heart disease.
In addition to recommending eating corn flakes as a means to prevent masturbation, Kellogg decided to use circumcision as a means also. At the time, it was hailed as a very practical idea. It was thought that not using any anesthetic would make boys associate masturbation with the pain felt during circumcision.
The concept spread through English speaking countries, and because of its place in certain cultures and the likelihood that circumcised fathers will circumcise their sons, it is still very present today. You can read all about it at the source