Iconic Cheerios turns 70

General Mills' cereal sales have been soggy lately, but the popularity of one of America's favorite breakfast staples endures.

By Kim Peterson Jun 24, 2011 1:49PM
Cheerios, a staple at breakfast tables throughout the U.S., turns 70 years old this year and is going stronger than ever.

It's still the best-selling cereal on the shelves. Well, technically, Honey Nut Cheerios is tops, but that still counts. One of every eight cereal boxes sold at U.S. stores is in the Cheerios family, The Associated Press reports.

To celebrate the big birthday, the city of Buffalo, N.Y., is holding a special Cheerios breakfast near the General Mills (GIS) plant that makes the cereal. You might associate Buffalo with the chicken wing, but the city has had a longer relationship with Cheerios. It's been making them at its waterfront plant since 1941, and the Buffalo chicken wing, the little youngster, has been around only since 1964.

Not all is well at General Mills these days, however. The company's cereals aren't selling as well in the U.S. as before, but success in other countries has helped profit rise for three straight quarters. The company will tell us next Wednesday how it did in its last quarter. The following video has more about how the company is doing financially.

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If you never get to see the inside of the plant, here's how Cheerios are made: A "puffing gun" shoots out heated balls of dough at hundreds of miles an hour, AP reports. The process sometimes sends a toasty aroma wafting through the city.

Cheerios is the envy of rivals for its distinctive place in American culture. It's the go-to cereal for moms with toddlers learning how to eat on their own. And we continue to reach for the yellow box as we get older for the cereal's taste and health benefits. It's made from whole-grain oats, AP reports, and has 3 grams of fiber and 1 gram of sugar in each serving.

Here are some little-known facts about Cheerios, collected by the AP:
  • General Mills considered 10 different shapes and sizes before settling on the "o" we know today.
  • The company sold 21.6 million boxes of Cheerios in its first year.
  • Cheerioats were renamed Cheerios after four years.
  • General Mills branched out with a new flavor, Honey Nut Cheerios, in 1979. The line got more diverse with Apple Cinnamon Cheerios in 1988, MultiGrain Cheerios in 1992, Frosted Cheerios in 1995, Berry Burst Cheerios in 2001 and Chocolate Cheerios in 2010.

Jun 24, 2011 8:07PM
I am 72 years old and I have been eating Cheerios for as long as I can remember.  Mother said I would never eat breakfast if I didn't have Cheerios.  I am still eating a bowl of Cheerios most everyday.  Please don't stop making this wonderful cereal.....
Jun 24, 2011 8:05PM

Cheerios (oats) will help you deal with high cholesterol. Period.


Why not?  I've been eating them for decades, and my cholesterol is good; partially as a results of (non-sweetened!) Cheerios. . . . and they are not ever soggy, either, unlike their cheap competitors.

Jun 24, 2011 10:30PM
Happy Birthday to an American icon! I love Cheerios, and so does my 11 month old son.
Jun 24, 2011 9:35PM
Very good ,Cheerios, KEEP ON ROLLINGSmile
Jun 25, 2011 2:15AM
Cherrios would have to be the best selling cereal in the U.S. I think they're up to 12 or 13 different kinds now. I'm waiting for toast and bacon flavored.
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