General Mills, Inc., is an American multinational manufacturer and
marketer of branded consumer foods sold through retail stores. It is
headquartered in Golden Valley, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis.
The company markets many well-known North American brands, including
Gold Medal flour, Annie's Homegrown, Betty Crocker, Yoplait, Colombo,
Totino's, Pillsbury, Old El Paso, Häagen-Dazs, Cheerios, Trix, Cocoa
Puffs, and Lucky Charms. Its brand portfolio includes more than 89
other leading U.S. brands and numerous category leaders around the
1.1 Washburn-Crosby Company
1.3 Merchandising and television sponsorships
1.4 Aeronautical Research Division and Electronics Division
1.5 Diversification: toys and restaurants
1.6 Recent history
1.7 Engineering milestones
2 Corporate governance
3 Change to legal terms
4 Company brands
4.1 Breakfast cereals
4.1.1 Discontinued cereals
4.2 Baking goods
4.3 Grain snacks
4.4 Meal products
4.5 Organic food
4.6 Other brands
5 Company locations
6 See also
8 External links
Advertisement, late 1880s
The company can trace its history to the
Minneapolis Milling Company,
incorporated in 1856. The company was founded by Illinois
Congressman Robert Smith, who leased power rights to mills operating
along the west side of
Saint Anthony Falls
Saint Anthony Falls on the
Mississippi River in
Cadwallader C. Washburn
Cadwallader C. Washburn acquired the company
shortly after its founding and hired his brother William D. Washburn
to assist in the company's development. In 1866 the Washburns got into
the business themselves, building the Washburn "B" Mill at the falls.
At the time, the building was considered to be so large and output so
vast that it could not possibly sustain itself. However, the company
succeeded, and in 1874 he built the even bigger Washburn "A" Mill.
In 1877, the mill entered a partnership with John Crosby to form the
Washburn-Crosby Company, producing
Winter Wheat Flour. That same year
William Hood Dunwoody
William Hood Dunwoody to England to open the market for
spring wheat. Dunwoody was successful and became a silent partner.
In 1878, the "A" mill was destroyed in a flour dust explosion along
with five nearby buildings. The ensuing fire led to the death of 18
workers. Construction of a new mill began immediately. Not only was
the new mill safer but it also was able to produce a higher quality
flour after the old grinding stones were replaced with automatic steel
rollers, the first ever used.
In 1880, Washburn-Crosby flour brands won gold, silver and bronze
medals at the Millers' International Exhibition in Cincinnati, causing
them to launch the Gold Medal flour brand.
In 1924, the company stepped in to take over a failing Twin Cities
radio station, WLAG, renaming it WCCO (from Washburn-Crosby Company).
General Mills itself was created in June 1928 when Washburn-Crosby
James Ford Bell merged Washburn-Crosby and 28 other mills.
General Mills acquired the Wichita Mill and Elevator Company
of the industrialist
Frank Kell of Wichita Falls, Texas. With the
sale, Kell acquired cash plus stock in the corporation.
Postcard image of the Gold Medal
Flour factory in
The newly merged company paid a dividend in 1928, and has continued
the dividend uninterrupted since then–one of only a few companies to
pay a dividend every year since then.
Merchandising and television sponsorships
Beginning in 1929,
General Mills products contained box top coupons,
Betty Crocker coupons, with varying point values, which were
redeemable for discounts on a variety of housewares products featured
in the widely distributed
Betty Crocker catalog. The coupons and the
catalog were discontinued by the company in 2006. A similar program,
Box Tops for Education, in which coupon icons clipped off various
General Mills products can be redeemed by schools for cash, started in
1996 and is still active.
General Mills became the sponsor of the popular radio show The Lone
Ranger in 1941. The show was then brought to television, and, after 20
years, their long-term sponsorship came to an end in 1961.
Former site of
General Mills today on the
Mississippi River at
Beginning in 1959,
General Mills sponsored the Rocky and His Friends
television series, later known as The Bullwinkle Show. Until 1968,
Rocky and Bullwinkle
Rocky and Bullwinkle were featured in a variety of advertisements for
General Mills was also a sponsor of the
Saturday-morning cartoons from the Total TeleVision productions
studio, including Tennessee Tuxedo. The company also was a sponsor
of the ABC western series The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, starring
Aeronautical Research Division and Electronics Division
General Mills established their Aeronautical Research
Division with chief engineer Otto C. Winzen. This division developed
high altitude balloons in conjunction with the
United States Navy
Office of Naval Research
Office of Naval Research (ONR), such as the Skyhook balloon.
General Mills Electronics division developed the DSV Alvin
submersible, which is notable for being used in investigating the
wreck of Titanic among other deep-sea exploration missions.
Diversification: toys and restaurants
The first venture
General Mills took into the toy industry was in
1965. The company bought Rainbow Crafts, which was the manufacturer of
Play-Doh. General Mills' purchase of the company was substantial
because it brought production costs down and tripled the revenue.
General Mills came out with their "Monster Cereals" in the 1970s. The
cereals are now produced and sold seasonally around Halloween.
General Mills acquired a five-unit restaurant company called
Red Lobster and expanded it nationwide. Soon, a division of General
General Mills Restaurants developed to take charge of the
Red Lobster chain. In 1980,
General Mills acquired the
California-based Good Earth health food restaurant chain. GM
eventually converted the restaurants into other chain restaurants they
were operating, such as Red Lobster. In 1982, General Mills
Restaurants founded a new Italian-themed restaurant chain called Olive
Garden. Another themed restaurant, China Coast, was added before the
entire group was spun off to
General Mills shareholders in 1995 as
During the same decade,
General Mills ventured further, starting the
General Mills Specialty Retail Group. They acquired two clothing and
Talbots and Eddie Bauer. The acquisition was
Talbots was purchased by a Japanese company, then known
as JUSCO, and the Spiegel company purchased Bauer. Spiegel later
declared bankruptcy, yet Bauer still remains, albeit in a smaller
presence in the
United States today.
Washburn "A" Mill, the producer of Gold Medal Flour, now the Minnesota
Historical Society Mill City Museum
From 1976 to 1985,
General Mills went to court as the parent company
of Parker Brothers, which held the rights on the brand name and gaming
idea of the board game Monopoly, claiming that the so-called
Anti-Monopoly game of an economics professor infringed their
trademark. The dispute extended up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which
ruled against them, saying that while they have exclusive rights to
the game Monopoly, they can not prevent others from using the word
"monopoly" in the name of a game.
In 1985, General Mills' toy division was separated from its parent as
Kenner Parker Toys, Inc. There were many potential acquirers of the
business but it was floated on the stock exchange with General Mills'
shareholders getting equivalent shares in Kenner Parker. This was more
tax efficient for General Mills.
In 1990, a joint venture with
Nestlé S.A. called
Cereal Partners was
formed which markets cereals (including many existing General
Mills cereal brands) outside the US and Canada under the
In 2001, the company purchased Pillsbury from Diageo, although it was
officially described as a "merger".
General Mills has been producing more products targeted to
the growing ranks of health-conscious consumers. The company has
chosen to switch its entire breakfast cereal line to whole grain. The
company also started manufacturing their child-targeted cereals with
General Mills has reduced the level of sugar to
all cereals advertised to children to 11 grams per serving. The
company's recent marketing to children included the advergame
Millsberry, a virtual city that included games featuring General Mills
products. The site launched in August 2004 and ran through December
In April 2011,
General Mills announced that it will switch all 1
million eggs it uses each year to cage-free.
General Mills was ranked #181 on the 2012
Fortune 500 list of
America's largest corporations, 161 in 2015 and was the
third-largest food consumer products company in the United States.
During June 2012, the company's vice-president for diversity stated
General Mills opposes a
Minnesota amendment banning gay marriage,
stating that the company values "inclusion". The company received
positive feedback for its stand which might attract people to its
The company announced in September 2014 that it would acquire organic
food producer Annie’s Inc. for a fee of around $820 million, as part
of its strategy to expand in the US natural foods market. In
General Mills announced plans to cut 700 to 800 jobs,
mostly in U.S., in corporate restructuring planned to be completed by
the end of 2015.
In 2015, citing climate change,
General Mills promised to reduce its
greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent over 10 years. In
December 2016, the company announced it would be restructuring,
splitting into four business groups based on global region, and
cutting as many as 600 jobs.
In February 2018, the company entered into the pet products industry,
paying $8 billion to buy Blue Buffalo Pet Products, Inc. in an effort
to combat slumping sales.
General Mills' corporate campus in Golden Valley, Minnesota.
General Mills engineer, Thomas R. James, creates the puffing
gun, which inflates or distorts cereal pieces into puffed up shapes.
This new technology was used in 1937 to create Kix cereal and in 1941
to create Cheerioats (known today as Cheerios).
General Mills engineer Helmer Anderson creates the Anderson
sealer. This new device allowed for bags of flour to be sealed with
glue instead of just being tied with a string.
General Mills creates the tear-strip for easily opening
As of April 2010[update], the company's management included:
Kendall J. Powell – Chief Executive Officer;
Chairman of the
Y. Marc Belton: Executive Vice President, Worldwide Health, Brand and
New Business Development
John Church – Senior Vice President, Supply Chain
Jacqueline R. Williams-Roll – Senior Vice President, Global
Peter C. Erickson – Senior Vice President, Innovation,
Technology and Quality
Ian R. Friendly – Executive Vice President; Chief Operating
Officer, U.S. Retail
Donal L. Mulligan – Executive Vice President; Chief Financial
Christopher D. O'Leary – Executive Vice President; Chief
Operating Officer, International
Roderick A. Palmore – Executive Vice President; General
Counsel, Chief Compliance and
Risk Management Officer
Jeffrey J. Rotsch – Executive Vice President, Worldwide Sales
and Channel Development
Christina L. Shea – Senior Vice President, External Relations;
General Mills Community Action and Foundation
Change to legal terms
In April 2014, the company announced that it had changed its legal
terms on its website to introduce an arbitration clause requiring all
General Mills to be resolved in small claims court or
arbitration and not as a participant in a class action. The
change was made shortly after a judge's March 26, 2014, denial of a
motion to dismiss a class action regarding the marketing of the
Nature Valley brand products. Users would be deemed to
accept the terms by interacting with
General Mills on its website in
various ways, such as downloading coupons, subscribing to newsletters,
or participating in Internet forums hosted on the website. The
New York Times stated that the agreement could be interpreted to
additionally construe purchasing
General Mills products at a grocery
store or liking the company's Facebook page as assent to the
General Mills disclaimed that interpretation, calling it a
"mischaracterization". The change in terms resulted in a
massive backlash of protests via consumer groups and social media, and
General Mills reverted the terms back to the original content after
only a few days.
General Mills's breakfast cereals include:
Cheerios and its variants
Chex and its variants
Cinnamon Toast Crunch
French Toast Crunch
Honey Nut Clusters
Peanut Butter Toast Crunch
Raisin Nut Bran
Some brands are marketed outside the US and Canada by the Cereal
Partners joint venture using the
General Mills cereals no longer manufactured include:
Banana Wackies / Wackies (introduced 1965; discontinued 1968)
Baron Von Redberry and
Sir Grapefellow (introduced 1972, discontinued
Benefit (which contained psyllium, an Indian-grown grain used as a
laxative and cholesterol-reducer)
Body Buddies (introduced 1979; two flavors, Brown Sugar & Honey
and Natural Fruit Flavor)
Buñuelitos ("Sweetened corn puffs with cinnamon and a touch of
honey... Traditional south of the border flavor made right here in the
Chocolate Flavor Donutz (introduced 1982; discontinued 1984)
Clackers (introduced 1968; discontinued 1973) - graham
Clusters (introduced 1987)
Country Corn Flakes (introduced 1961)
Crazy Cow A chocolate corn cereal which resembles cocoa puffs
(introduced 1978, discontinued, 1980)
Crispy Wheats 'n Raisins (introduced 1980)
E.T. Cereal (introduced 1984, discontinued 1986)
Fingos ("The Cereal Made to Eat with Your Fingers")
Frosty O's (introduced 1959; discontinued 1979)
Fruit Brute (introduced 1974; discontinued 1982) 
Fruity Yummy Mummy
Goodness Pack, an assortment of eight single-serving boxes of
different cereals, designed to compete with
Kellogg's and Post
Hi-Pro (introduced 1958; discontinued 1964)
Ice Cream Cones Cereal (Vanilla and Chocolate Chip flavors)
Jets (formerly Sugar Jets; discontinued 1974) (with Rocky and
Bullwinkle as mascots)
Jurassic Park Crunch
Kaboom (introduced 1969)
Looney Tunes: Back in Action
Millenios from Cheerios
Mr. Wonderful's Surprise ("Only Cereal with a Creamy Chocolate
Neopets Islandberry Crunch (based on the
Neopets online virtual pet
Powdered Donutz (introduced 1981; discontinued 1984)
Princess Fairytale Flakes
S'Mores Grahams / S'Mores Crunch
Star Wars Episode II (based on the 2002 film Star Wars: Episode II –
Attack of the Clones)
Sugar Jets (introduced 1954) 
Triples (introduced 1991)
Twinkles (introduced 1960; discontinued 1973) 
USA Olympic Crunch (a tie-in with the
1998 Winter Olympics
1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano,
Wheat Hearts (with
Peabody and Sherman
Peabody and Sherman as mascots)
Wheat Stax (introduced 1966; discontinued 1971) ("Now there's a cereal
you can stack")
The company's baking-goods brands include:
Bisquick (now a
Betty Crocker brand)
Gold Medal Flour
Knack & Back
It also produces fruit snacks, including Fruit by the Foot, Fruit
Gushers, Fruit Roll-Ups, and Fruit Shapes.
The company's grain-snack brands include:
Fiber One bars
The company's meal products brands include:
Old El Paso
It also produces organic foods, via Cascadian Farm, which they took
over when they bought Small Planet Foods, and Muir Glen. More
recently, as of 2014, it has purchased Annie's Homegrown.
Other company brands include Annie's, Blue Buffalo, Frescarini,
Latina, Totino's, Jeno's, Progresso, Columbo, and
Yoplait (51%). It
Häagen-Dazs ice cream outside of the US. General Mills
acquired the meat-based brand Epic Provisions in 2016.
As of 25 May 2008[update], 79 facilities for the production
of a wide variety of food products were in operation. Of these
facilities, 49 are located in the US, 12 in the Asia/Pacific region (8
of which are leased), 5 in Canada (2 of which are leased), 7 in Europe
(3 of which are leased), 5 in Latin America and Mexico, and one in
Principal production facilities were located in:
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Buffalo, New York
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Golden Valley, Minnesota
Great Falls, Montana
Kansas City, Missouri
New Albany, Indiana
Reed City, Michigan
Vineland, New Jersey
West Chicago, Illinois
International bakeries and food service facilities are in:
Berwick, United Kingdom
Rooty Hill, Australia
Mt. Waverley, Australia
San Adrian, Spain
The company also has a Global Business Solutions (GBS) division in
Mumbai, India. Its prominent brand in India is Pillsbury although it
has opened a premium ice cream parlour of Häagen Dazs ice cream in
Delhi and Mumbai.
List of food companies
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sec.gov. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. June 2017.
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monsters". Retrieved March 26, 2014.
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Lakeland Ledger. Nov 8, 1980.
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Chain - Los Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. Retrieved June 5,
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Cereal Partners UK. Archived from
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Today. Retrieved May 3, 2010.
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release). Humane Society. April 20, 2011. Retrieved March 26,
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Fortune 500 – Industries". Fortune. Retrieved May 9, 2012.
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General Mills against amendment banning gay
marriage". MSNBC. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
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General Mills didn't get
hammered for speaking out on marriage amendment". MinnPost.com.
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General Mills to buy organic food producer Annie's for $820 million.
Reuters, September 9, 2014
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Retrieved October 1, 2014.
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release). General Mills. August 30, 2015. Retrieved September 4,
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General Mills is tackling
global warming". CBS News. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
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General Mills Pays Steep Price
to Get Into High-Growth Business". Bloomberg. Retrieved February 23,
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Voids the Right to Sue". The New York Times. Retrieved July 8,
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product eliminates the right to sue, according to online legal terms".
ABAJournal. American Bar Association. Retrieved July 8, 2014.
^ Sherman, Erik (April 18, 2014). "
General Mills adds legal fine print
that raises questions". CBS News. Retrieved July 8, 2014.
^ a b Strom, Stephanie (April 17, 2014). "
General Mills Amends New
Legal Policies". New York Times. Retrieved July 8, 2014.
^ Gray, Jeff (April 19, 2014). "
General Mills abandons controversial
legal policy to strip consumers of rights". The Globe And Mail.
Retrieved July 8, 2014.
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changing our legal terms back". generalmills.com. General Mills.
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Reverses Lawsuit Change". CBS Minnesota. WCCO-TV. Retrieved July 8,
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French Toast Crunch
French Toast Crunch cereal is
^ "Peanut Butter Toast Crunch Cereal - MrBreakfast.com".
General Mills Banana Wackies cereal TV commercial (15 seconds).
March 19, 2013 – via YouTube.
^ 1972 Baron Von Redberry cereal w/iron-on patches promotion TV
commercial. April 8, 2012 – via YouTube.
^ "Benefit Cereal - MrBreakfast.com".
^ a b c "A Tribute to Discontinued Cereals". Gunaxin Grub.
^ "Bunuelitos Cereal - MrBreakfast.com".
General Mills Circus Fun cereal commercial. July 2, 2011 –
^ VINTAGE TV COMMERCIAL - CLACKERS CEREAL - MAN TRYING TO KARATE CHOP
A CLACKERS BOX. November 30, 2011 – via YouTube.
^ "Clusters Cereal - MrBreakfast.com".
^ Country Corn Flakes Commercial (1963). September 12, 2008 – via
^ 1978 Crazy Cow Cereal TV commercial. November 8, 2011 – via
General Mills Crispy Wheats 'n Raisins cereal commercial. July
2, 2011 – via YouTube.
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Urlesque. Archived from the original on March 2, 2012.
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^ FRUIT BRUTE! The First one!. July 19, 2009 – via YouTube.
^ First Yummy Mummy!. May 23, 2009 – via YouTube.
General Mills Cereal Commercials
Rocky and Bullwinkle
Rocky and Bullwinkle 2.
January 14, 2014 – via YouTube.
^ "Harmony Cereal - MrBreakfast.com".
Rocky and Bullwinkle
Rocky and Bullwinkle for Jets Cereal - Boxing. June 30, 2013 – via
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^ "Millenios Cereal - MrBreakfast.com".
^ "Chiller - Scary Good".
Neopets Islandberry Crunch Cereal - MrBreakfast.com".
Pac-Man cereal commercial (early 80's). December 14, 2006 – via
^ "Princess Fairytale Flakes Cereal - MrBreakfast.com".
Star Wars Episode II Cereal - MrBreakfast.com".
^ 1964 Sugar Jets cereal TV commercial (15 seconds). January 22, 2013
– via YouTube.
^ "Sunrise Cereal - MrBreakfast.com".
General Mills Twinkles Cereal and Cartoon Commercial. May 13,
2013 – via YouTube.
^ "USA Olympic Crunch Cereal - MrBreakfast.com".
^ VINTAGE WHEAT HEARTS CEREAL COMMERCIAL - MR. PEABODY & HIS "PET
BOY" SHERMAN. September 20, 2012 – via YouTube.
^ "Wheat Stax Cereal - MrBreakfast.com".
^ "General Mills, craving organic meat snacks, buys Epic Provisions".
TheStreet. Retrieved March 5, 2016.
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^ "FORM 10-K". Sec.gov. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
Official website – Canada
Official recipe website – Canada
Business data for General Mills: Google Finance
Cadwallader C. Washburn
Charles Alfred Pillsbury
James Ford Bell
William de la Barre
Adelaide Hawley Cumming
Cinnamon Toast Crunch
French Toast Crunch
Honey Nut Cheerios
Honey Nut Clusters
Old El Paso
Fruit by the Foot
Gold Medal Flour
Natural and organic
Food Should Taste Good
Betty Crocker Kitchens
Cereal Partners Worldwide
General Mills Radio Adventure Theater
Mill City Museum
Hazard analysis and critical control points
Fortune 500 Corporations (by revenue)
C. H. Robinson Worldwide
Thrivent Financial for Lutherans
St. Jude Medical
Other public companies
Securian Financial Group
Federated Mutual Insurance Company
MTS Systems Corporation
Major non-public corporations (alphabetically)
Schwan Food Company
Securian Financial Group
List of companies based in Minneapolis–Saint Paul
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