Last updated

Product type Breakfast cereal
Owner General Mills
Country U.S.
Introduced1924;95 years ago (1924)
Markets U.S.
Tagline"The breakfast of Champions"
Website www.wheaties.com

Wheaties is a brand of General Mills breakfast cereal. It is well known for featuring prominent athletes on the exterior of the package, and has become a cultural icon in the USA. Primarily a wheat and bran mixture baked into flakes, it was introduced in 1924. [1]

General Mills American consumer goods manufacturer

General Mills, Inc., is an American multinational manufacturer and marketer of branded consumer foods sold through retail stores. It is headquartered in Golden Valley, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis. The company markets many well-known North American brands, including Gold Medal flour, Annie's Homegrown, Betty Crocker, Yoplait, Colombo, Totino's, Pillsbury, Old El Paso, Häagen-Dazs, Cheerios, Trix, Cocoa Puffs, and Lucky Charms. Its brand portfolio includes more than 89 other leading U.S. brands and numerous category leaders around the world.

Breakfast cereal food made from grain

Breakfast cereal is a breakfast food made from processed cereal grains and often eaten for breakfast, primarily in Western societies. It is most often mixed with milk, but can also be eaten with yogurt or fruit. Some companies promote their products for the health benefits from eating oat-based and high-fiber cereals. In the United States, cereals are often fortified with vitamins but can also lack many of the vitamins needed for a healthy breakfast. A significant proportion of cereals are made with high sugar content. Many breakfast cereals are produced via extrusion. The breakfast cereal industry has gross profit margins of 40–45%, 90% penetration in some markets, and steady and continued growth throughout its history. The number of different types of breakfast cereals in the U.S. has grown from 160 (1970) to 340 (1998); forecasted trend for 2012 was 4,945 (2012). In this highly competitive market, breakfast cereal companies have developed cereals in an ever-increasing number of flavors. Although many plain wheat and oat based cereals exist, other flavors are sweet. Some of the most popular brands include freeze-dried fruit and others are flavored like dessert or candy.

Wheat Cereal grain

Wheat is a grass widely cultivated for its seed, a cereal grain which is a worldwide staple food. The many species of wheat together make up the genus Triticum; the most widely grown is common wheat.



A blow-up model of a Wheaties box to commemorate the opening of Glory Road on the UTEP campus, November 29, 2005. 1966 NCAA basketball championship team members Willie Worsley and Nevil Shedd, are pictured on the box, cutting down the hoop net. Wheaties cheerleaders.jpg
A blow-up model of a Wheaties box to commemorate the opening of Glory Road on the UTEP campus, November 29, 2005. 1966 NCAA basketball championship team members Willie Worsley and Nevil Shedd, are pictured on the box, cutting down the hoop net.


Wheaties was created in 1922, as a result of an accidental spill of a wheat bran mixture onto a hot stove by a Minnesota clinician working for the Washburn Crosby Company (later General Mills). By November 1924, after more than 36 attempts to strengthen the flakes to withstand packaging, the process for creating the flakes had been perfected by the Washburn head miller, George Cormack, and the cereal was named Washburn's Gold Medal Whole Wheat Flakes. Soon after, the name was changed to Wheaties as a result of an employee contest won by Jane Bausman, the wife of a company export manager. Other names passed over included "Nutties" and "Gold Medal Wheat Flakes."

Wheaties began to be advertised on Minneapolis's WCCO radio station (owned by Washburn Crosby) on December 24, 1926, with the first-ever commercial jingle. [2] Its lyrics were sung to the tune of the then-popular "She's a Jazz Baby" by Bill Holcombe and David Miller or possibly to the tune of "Jazz Baby":[ citation needed ]

WCCO (AM) CBS radio station in the Twin Cities of Minnesota

WCCO is a commercial AM radio station in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and owned by Entercom. Its offices and studios are located in the Entercom Building at 625 Second Avenue South in downtown Minneapolis. WCCO features talk radio, news and sports programming, with local hosts heard most hours of the day and evening. World and national news is supplied by CBS News Radio. Overnight, WCCO carries the syndicated CBS Sports Radio Network.

A jingle is a short song or tune used in advertising and for other commercial uses. Jingles are a form of sound branding. A jingle contains one or more hooks and meaning that explicitly promote the product or service being advertised, usually through the use of one or more advertising slogans. Ad buyers use jingles in radio and television commercials; they can also be used in non-advertising contexts to establish or maintain a brand image. Many jingles are also created using snippets of popular songs, in which lyrics are modified to appropriately advertise the product or service.

David Miller was an American country musician. He is one of the earliest musicians to be associated with country music recording.

Have you tried Wheaties?
They're whole wheat with all of the bran.
Won't you try Wheaties?
For wheat is the best food of man. [2]

Early sports association

Wheaties began its association with sports in 1927, through advertising on the southern wall of minor league baseball's Nicollet Park in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In the contract, Wheaties sponsored the radio broadcasts of the minor league baseball team, Minneapolis Millers, on radio station WCCO and Wheaties was provided with a large billboard in the park to use to introduce new slogans. The first such slogan on the new signboard was penned by Knox Reeves, of a Minneapolis advertising agency. When asked what should be placed on the sign for Wheaties, Reeves sketched a Wheaties box on a pad of paper, thought for a moment, and wrote "Wheaties-The Breakfast of Champions".

Nicollet Park former baseball ground in Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States

Nicollet Park is a former baseball ground located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States. The ground was home to the minor league Minneapolis Millers of the Western League and later American Association from 1896 to 1955.

Minneapolis Largest city in Minnesota

Minneapolis is the county seat of Hennepin County and the larger of the Twin Cities, the 16th-largest metropolitan area in the United States. As of 2017, Minneapolis is the largest city in the state of Minnesota and 45th-largest in the United States, with an estimated population of 422,331. The Twin Cities metropolitan area consists of Minneapolis, its neighbor Saint Paul, and suburbs which altogether contain about 3.6 million people, and is the third-largest economic center in the Midwest.

Minneapolis Millers Minor League Baseball team

The Minneapolis Millers were an American professional minor league baseball team that played in Minneapolis, Minnesota, through 1960. In the 19th century a different Minneapolis Millers were part of the Western League. The team played first in Athletic Park and later Nicollet Park.

Throughout the 1930s, Wheaties increased in popularity with its sponsorship of baseball broadcasting, and by the end of the decade, nearly a hundred radio stations carried Wheaties sponsored events. During these events, athlete testimonials about Wheaties were used to demonstrate that Wheaties was indeed the breakfast of champions. In 1934, athletes began to be depicted on the Wheaties boxes, starting with baseball star Lou Gehrig, and the tradition continues today.

Baseball Sport

Baseball is a bat-and-ball game played between two opposing teams who take turns batting and fielding. The game proceeds when a player on the fielding team, called the pitcher, throws a ball which a player on the batting team tries to hit with a bat. The objectives of the offensive team are to hit the ball into the field of play, and to run the bases—having its runners advance counter-clockwise around four bases to score what are called "runs". The objective of the defensive team is to prevent batters from becoming runners, and to prevent runners' advance around the bases. A run is scored when a runner legally advances around the bases in order and touches home plate. The team that scores the most runs by the end of the game is the winner.

Lou Gehrig American baseball player

Henry Louis Gehrig,, nicknamed "the Iron Horse", was an American baseball first baseman who played his entire professional career in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the New York Yankees, from 1923 until 1939. Gehrig was renowned for his prowess as a hitter and for his durability, which earned him his nickname "the Iron Horse." He was an All-Star seven consecutive times, a Triple Crown winner once, an American League (AL) Most Valuable Player twice, and a member of six World Series champion teams. He had a career .340 batting average, .632 slugging average, and a .447 on base average. He hit 493 home runs and had 1,995 runs batted in (RBI). In 1939, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame and was the first MLB player to have his uniform number (4) retired by a team.

The heyday of Wheaties came in the 1930s and early 1940s, as testimonials peaked from nearly every sport imaginable. Among the many testimonials included were: baseball stars, managers, and trainers; broadcasters; football stars and coaches; circus stars and rodeo; livestock breeders; a railroad engineer; horsemen and jockeys; a big-game hunter; automobile racers; an aviator; a speedboat driver; an explorer; and parachutists.

Wheaties maintained brand recognition through its definitive association with sports, and its distinctive orange boxes. It became so popular that in the 1939 All-star game, 46 of the 51 players endorsed the cereal. In the months following, Wheaties became one of the sponsors of the very first televised sports broadcast to allow commercials. On August 29, 1939, NBC television presented the first major league baseball game ever televised between the Cincinnati Reds and the Brooklyn Dodgers to approximately 500 television set owners in New York City over experimental station W2XBS (now WNBC). Red Barber was the play-by-play broadcaster. Although full commercial television would not be authorized until July 1, 1941, the FCC allowed commercials to be inserted in this particular, special event broadcast as a test. Barber had to ad-lib three live commercials, one for each Dodger sponsor. For Procter & Gamble, he held up a bar of Ivory Soap. For Socony, Barber put on a Mobil gas station cap and raised a can of oil. For General Mills, he poured Wheaties into a bowl, added milk and sugar on top (some reports say he also sliced a banana), then proclaimed "Now that's the breakfast of champions." "There was not a cue card in sight", Barber said.

A measure of the product's familiarity is the reference in the 1941 baseball song Joltin' Joe DiMaggio, performed by Les Brown and his orchestra during DiMaggio's record hitting streak. In the song, DiMaggio gets a clutch base hit, and the band awards him "a case of Wheaties".


Ties with Ronald Reagan

Wheaties radio broadcasting in the 1930s touched the early career of Ronald Reagan, who was at the time a sports broadcast announcer in Des Moines, Iowa. He was asked to create play-by-play recreations of Chicago Cubs baseball games using transcribed telegraph reports; his job performance in this role led to his selection in 1937 as the most popular Wheaties announcer in the nation. He was awarded an all-expenses paid trip to the Cubs' spring training camp in California, and while there he took a Warner Bros. screen test. This led to his eventual film career; thus the Wheaties claim of perhaps leading Reagan into show business, and later politics as governor of California and 40th President of the United States.

Changes and children's promotions

Due to increasing costs in the 1940s of sponsorship of broadcasting, Wheaties began simple commercial sports testimonials on television or radio. These were less effective than the overall sponsorship (especially in the case of television), yet also greatly reduced costs for advertising of the product.

In the early 1950s, General Mills redirected its promotional strategy for Wheaties to focus on children, following its great success in this market with its Cheerios brand. The strategy included sponsorship of The Lone Ranger and The Mickey Mouse Club , as well as the development of a mascot, a puppet character called Champy the Lion, produced by Bil Baird and voiced by Thurl Ravenscroft. Despite these efforts, sales of Wheaties declined dramatically, mainly due to adult consumers' dislike of so-called children's cereals. Children's consumption of Wheaties did in fact increase, but not enough to offset the decline in adult consumption.

In 1958, General Mills decided to combat the decline in sales by returning Wheaties to its sporting roots. A three-pronged marketing strategy was devised. The first element was the selection of the brand's first spokesman, Bob Richards, two-time Olympic pole vault champion. The second was the reentry of Wheaties into the sports television sponsorship arena, pioneering the concepts of the pre-game and post-game show. The third was the creation of the Wheaties Sports Federation. The Wheaties Sports Federation promoted physical fitness, training, and participation in athletic events, through direct financial support of Olympic educational programs and the Jaycee Junior Champ track and field competition, and also through educational and instructional athletic films.

From the 1960s through the 1990s, Wheaties provided in-box promotions, but maintained a focus on athletic fitness and on-the-box sports figure promotions. Since the debut of the front cover depiction of Bob Richards, hundreds of athletes have been shown and promoted, including entire baseball, basketball, and football teams, while also highlighting Olympic successes (including regional Special Olympics editions). Wheaties also does not limit itself to current athletic stars, as special edition boxes have depicted baseball players from the early 20th century, and many athletes who were too early for Wheaties to cover (see Jim Thorpe).

Decline in Sales

Recently, sales of Wheaties in the US has declined significantly. From 2005 to 2014 sales of Wheaties declined 78%. [3]

Wheaties firsts and records


There have been a total of seven spokespersons for the Wheaties brand since 1958, listed here with their date of selection:

Like many popular cereal brands from the early 20th century, Wheaties has had its share of spin-off brands. Also, several athletes featured on the cereal boxes of regular Wheaties are featured on these brands. These are the four brands which have been created in response to the popularity of Wheaties, along with their introduction date:

See also


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    2. 1 2 Ellie Wojahn. "Choose a Partner". Playing by Different Rules. AMACOM (American Management Association). p. 19. ISBN   0-8144-5861-0.
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    4. A Football Life , "Walter Payton." Premiered on NFL Network, October 13, 2011
    5. "Latest Wheaties box athlete: 9-year-old girl is a football star". mercurynews.com.