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Fascinating facts about the invention of
Wheaties Cereal by George Cormack in 1921.
WHEATIES CEREAL
Wheaties is a genuine American icon. The familiar orange box and the slogan "The Breakfast of Champions" have become more than just advertising symbols. They have become a metaphor for sports greatness and success.  Many athletes, at the pinnacle of their success, have shared their childhood dreams about someday joining the legends who have had their picture on a Wheaties box. And, indeed, Wheaties is a delicious, healthy product that has helped fuel and inspire many a champion.  But the legend and lore of this famous orange box - and the many champions it has featured over the years - is a story in itself. 
Early Wheaties Box (7K) Like many great inventions, Wheaties was discovered by accident. In 1921, a health clinician in Minneapolis was mixing a batch of bran gruel for his patients when he spilled some of the mix on a hot stove. The gruel crackled and sizzled into a crisp flake. Tasting the very first Wheaties prototype, he decided this delicious accident had promise.  He took the crisped gruel to the people at the Washburn Crosby Company.
The head miller, George Cormack, took on the task of trying to strengthen the flakes to keep them from turning to dust inside a cereal box. Cormack tested 36 varieties of wheat before he developed the perfect flake. A company wide contest was held to name the new cereal. The winner was Jane Bausman, the wife of the export manager. Wheaties was chosen over numerous other entries, including Nutties and Gold Medal Wheat Flakes.
Breakfast of Champions (6K) Wheaties'association with sports began in 1933, nine years after the cereal was introduced, with the sponsorship of baseball broadcasts.  One of the most popular slogans in advertising history was penned later that same year. General Mills' contract for sponsorship of the broadcasts of Minneapolis Millers games on WCCO radio included a large advertising signboard at the ball park.
Knox Reeves, an advertising executive for Wheaties' Minneapolis-based agency, was asked what should be printed on the sign. He took out a pad and pencil, sketched a Wheaties box, thought for a moment, and then printed "Wheaties - The Breakfast of Champions."

TO LEARN MORE

RELATED INFORMATION:
History of Snacks and Food    from The Great Idea Finder

ON THE BOOKSHELF:
Accidents May Happen: 50 Inventions Discovered by Mistake
by Charlotte Foltz Jones, John O'Brien (Illustrator) / Hardcover - 86 pages (1996) / Delacorte
Fifty inventions discovered by mistake receive entertaining cartoon embellishment but are actually serious subjects which will delight and entertain kids.

Why Didn't I Think of That?: Bizarre Origins of Ingenious Inventions We Couldn't Live Without
by Allyn Freeman, Bob Golden / Paperback - 260 pages / John Wiley & Sons; (September 1997)
Filled with wacky and fascinating facts, awe-inspiring success statistics, and rags-to-riches stories, Chronicles the odd origins behind 50 famous inventions and reveals the business side of each product's actual production, marketing, and distribution.

Beyond the Bowl: The Cereal Lover's Ultimate Cookbook
Debby Maugans / Paperback - 240 pages / NTC/Contemporary Publishing - 1997
From corn flakes to shredded wheat to Cap'n Crunch, Beyond the Breakfast Bowl features more than 200 fast and fun recipes using everyone's favorite food--cereal!
Krazy Kid's Food!
by Dan Goodsell (Editor), Steve Roden (Editor) / Paperback: 192 pages  / Taschen (December, 2002)
In 1935, Post cereals licensed the rights to a popular new movie character, Mickey Mouse, and thus the marketing of kid's food changed forever.
Why Didn't I Think of That ( This title is out of print. )
by Webb Garrison / Hardcover - 120 pages
(1977) / Prentice Hall / ISBN: 0139586032

ON THE WEB:
Official Wheaties Web Site
Over the past 75 years, Wheaties has honored champion athletes on its cereal packages. This web site gives you the opportunity to see 75 of these packages. You can also find out how to vote for your favorite Wheaties Champion of all time.
(URL: www.wheaties.com)
General Mills
The idea was brought to George Cormack, head miller at the Washburn Crosby Company, predecessor of General Mills, Inc. Cormack was asked to develop the product, which ultimately was deemed to have “considerable merit and appeal.”
(URL: www.generalmills.com/)
Wheaties Collectibles
Welcome to WHEATIES Collectibles! Collecting special edition WHEATIES cereal boxes as well as other related cereal boxes has become very popular among collectors.
(URL:
members.aol.com/www10/index.html)
Today In Science History
George Cormack, Born 17 June 1870; died Sep 1953. Lots of COOKIES and POP-UP ADS here.
(URL: www.todayinsci.com/6/6_17.htm)
Wheaties the Breakfast of Champions
Over the years, Wheaties has recognized the outstanding athletic achievements and personal championships of several hundred amateur and professional athletes on "The Breakfast of Champions" package.

(URL: www.wheaties.com/champions/championslist.asp)

DID YOU KNOW:

  • Wheaties baseball broadcasts were immensely popular throughout the 1930s. One of those stations was WHO in Des Moines, Iowa, where a young broadcaster named Ronald "Dutch" Reagan entered and won a contest for Wheaties broadcasters. His prize was a trip to Hollywood, all expenses paid, courtesy of Wheaties. He never returned.
  • Some of the stars endorsing Wheaties through the years include: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Jackie Robinson, Bob Feller, Hank Greenberg, Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle and Johnny Bench.  Jack Dempsey, Sonja Henie and Johnny Weissmuller.
  • Americans buy 2.7 billion packages of cereal each year. If laid end to end, the empty cereal boxes from one yearıs consumption would stretch to the moon and back.
  • The name "wheaties" was selected as the result of a company contest won by Jane Bausman, the wife of one of the company's executives.

 

Reference Sources in BOLD Type This page revised February, 2005.
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