Food History Products

Cheerios, Who Knew?

We need to talk about Cheerios. I recently received an email explaining that the new cool thing is to make a Cheerios necklace for your friends (I think they thought I was still in high school, bless them). The Cheerios necklace recipient eats a Cheerio off the necklace every time she sees the guy she likes at school and voila, he will like her after she finishes the necklace and all the Cheerios have been ingested. Now, that’s marketable. I mean remarkable. A cereal that can guarantee a boy? Works for me.

But Cheerios don’t stop there. They cure your heart disease. And, if you don’t have heart disease but you do have high cholesterol, they cure that. And, if you don’t have either of those maladies, no worries, Cheerios will start your day with oats, the cornerstone of our health pyramid. Let’s see, boys and two out of the top ten dangerous things to one’s health. Cheerios could be the best food ever.

But, we are not finished. I also received an email that had fun projects for the winter and one of them was to make a Cheerios bird feeder. Not only will Cheerios cure us, but birds need Cheerios too. This is all a lot of responsibility for one cereal.

So, of course, you know me, I had to go to the history of Cheerios. Cheerios was first produced on June 19, 1941 and is marketed by the General Mills cereal company of Golden Valley, Minnesota as the first oat-based, ready-to-eat cold cereal. It was called Cheeri Oats at first, later changed to Cheerios because of a trade name dispute with Quaker Oats. The name fit the “O” shape of the cereal pieces. In other words, Cheerios was the first fast food, possibly the beginning of the American health crisis. Hmmm. We are celebrating Cheerios today and not going to the dark side of things this early in the new year, so we won’t go down this road at this time.

I was with friends for New Years and had Cheerios for breakfast at their house. When I poured it out of the box, I got the prize inside. I was so excited. It was the cutest plastic hippo you ever saw with a little wheel on the bottom for easy rolling on the breakfast table. I used to love to be the first to open a box of cereal and get the prize inside. In our house, you were not supposed to search through the box for the prize, you were supposed to wait and see who got it naturally through just pouring out your portion. I’m sure this was the first setup by my parents for cheating between my siblings and me. This type of rule does not build joint cooperation.

There is actually a book out about the prizes in cereal boxes. It’s called Cereal Boxes and Prizes: 1960s – A Tribute and Price Guide. This just goes to show you that you can write a book about anything and someone might publish it. Apparently the coolest ever cereal box prize was the Captain Midnight secret decoder rings that must have been before my time, because I don’t remember them.

Anyway, back to Cheerios. I want to thank Cheerios for being so many things to so many people. For those of you who wish to become Cheerios aficionados, Cheerios is on Facebook and you can become a Cheerios Fan, not to be confused with a friend, who we all know might not work as it could be unfriended when you are sick of them and move back to Frosted Flakes. I’m glad we had this little Cheerios chat.