Cereal of Champions

Jack Armstrong
(Fictional Character)

The popular cereal flake in the orange box was born when a Minneapolis health clinician accidentally spilled some wheat bran mixture on a hot stove, creating tasty wheat flakes. The idea for whole-grain cereal flakes was brought to the attention of the head miller at the Washburn Crosby Company (General Mills' predecessor), George Cormack, who perfected the process for producing the flakes. In November 1924, the ready-to-eat cereal known as Washburn's Gold Medal Whole Wheat Flakes during its development was ready for the market. The cumbersome name was shortened to "Wheaties".
Wheaties' first venture into the world of sports was the sponsorship of minor league baseball broadcasts. The brand's sports association began with a sign on the left field wall at old Nicollet Park in south Minneapolis in 1933. General Mills' broadcast deal with the minor league Minneapolis Millers on radio station WCCO included the large signboard that Wheaties would use to introduce its new advertising slogan. The late Knox Reeves was asked what should be printed on the signboard for his client. He took out a pad and pencil, it is said, sketched a Wheaties package, thought for a minute, and then printed "
Wheaties - The Breakfast of Champions."

From that modest beginning, Wheaties' storied sports heritage has gone on to embrace many of the greatest athletes of all time.
Michael Jordan has appeared on the Wheaties box more than any other athlete - 18 times, including appearances with the NBA champion Chicago Bulls in 1991, 1993, and 1995. The first athlete to appear on a Wheaties box was baseball great Lou Gehrig in 1934. In 1926, Wheaties pioneered the singing radio commercial with "Have You Tried Wheaties?"
Wheaties broadcasts also led to the film career of Ronald "Dutch" Reagan, a sportscaster from Des Moines, Iowa, who made play-by-play re-creations of Chicago Cubs games using telegraph reports. In 1937, Reagan was voted the most popular Wheaties announcer in the country and was awarded a trip to the Cubs' spring training camp in California. While there, he took a Warner Brothers screen test and subsequently became a popular film star. He later went into politics and became the 40th president of the United States.
Athlete testimonials were a key part of the "Breakfast of Champions" broadcast package. Among the baseball stars endorsing the cereal through the years were:
Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Lefty Grove, Carl Hubbell, Joe Cronin, Jimmie Foxx, Mel Ott, Eddie Stanky, Bob Feller, Ted Williams, Hank Greenberg, Stan Musial, Lou Boudreau, Phil Rizzuto, Jackie Robinson, Hal Newhouser, Roy Campanella, Pee Wee Reese, Warren Spahn, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle and Johnny Bench. In fact, Wheaties had such a strong presence that 46 of the 51 players selected for the 1939 Major League All-Star Game endorsed Wheaties at that time.