5 Delicious Facts You Didn't Know About Cheerios

On May 2, 1941, General Mills began shipping Cheerioats, their new dry cereal, to different test markets. The breakfast cereal was later renamed Cheerios. Here are 5 delicious facts you probably didn’t know about Cheerios…

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They Were Originally Called CheeriOats A physicist named Lester Borchardt worked in Minnesota for General Mills in 1941 and helped invent the soon-to-be popular breakfast cereal. His team’s contribution was in developing a gun-shaped machine that caused oats to puff into an “o” shape. The original name of the cereal was Cheerioats, but a trademark infringement claim by Quaker caused General Mills to change the name to Cheerios in 1945. 

The First Mascot for Cheerios Was a Little Girl Cheeri O’Leary was the name of the little girl who first appeared in the 1940s as the mascot in ads for Cheerios. During the 1950s and 1980s, animated television commercials featured the Cheerios Kid and a sidekick named Sue, where the Kid ate Cheerios and then went on to solve problems  and save the day— similar to Popeye eating his spinach. Those two characters were revived in 2012 to explain to viewers how Cheerios could help lower cholesterol.

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Cheerios Boxes Were Early Examples of Cross-Marketing Campaigns In the 1960s, General Mills had a media division dedicated to creating children’s cartoon programs. The division worked directly with studios such as Hanna-Barbera and Total Television, and with cartoonists such as Bullwinkle creator Jay Ward to create and supply fully-produced half-hour cartoon shows to television stations. Among the classics that they helped create were “The Bullwinkle Show,” “Underdog,” and “Tennessee Tuxedo and his Tales.” These popular animated characters that appealed to children soon began to appear in Cheerios commercials. General Mills then partnered with Disney to co-brand Cheerios boxes with comic books and the Mickey Mouse Club. Action figures of the Lone Ranger as well as small toys were also packaged inside Cheerios boxes.

It Was Decades Before Cheerios Came Out With a Different Flavor General Mills only produced plain Cheerios for about 30 years, but began selling Cinnamon Nut Cheerios in 1976 and Honey Nut Cheerios three years later.  The Honey Nut Cheerios were a big hit and a bumble bee became recognized as its mascot. For nearly 20 years, that famous bee went mostly unnoticed because he didn't have a name. In 2000,  Kristine Tong, a fifth grade student from Coolidge, Texas, won a national contest to name the bee, dubbing him "BuzzBee". Honey Nut Cheerios has outsold the original flavor since 2009, and has been the #1 selling breakfast cereal in America every year since 2009.

There’s a “Cheerios Effect” A Harvard University mathematician and graduate student attending Cambridge University used the name Cheerio Effect to demonstrate three physics concepts: surface tension, the meniscus effect and buoyancy. If one Cheerio is placed in a bowl with milk, its weight makes the cereal dip a little, which forms a dent in the milk, while an additional Cheerio will do the same thing. However, if the two pieces of cereal come close to each other, they will touch as though they are attracted to each other.