A Hamburger Today

Cereal Eats: My Trip to General Mills HQ, Part 1

[Photographs: Paul Markert]

When I was in college, there was one particular event I waited for all year. University of Richmond (home to the work-hard play-hard set...and me), invited cereal reps to bring their cereals to campus on one special day so students could taste them and vote on what would be offered in the school cafeteria the following year. Picture it: hundreds of boxes of cereal and unlimited milk, free for the taking.

While other students enjoyed one bowl of maybe two of the sugary stuff, I treated the day as a second Thanksgiving. My sister and I would strategize and gameplan, putting away eight to nine bowls of cereal, starting with "healthy" meal-like options and finishing with dessert courses like Honey Comb and Reese's Puffs. Everyone was there—new cereals, old friends, healthy, unhealthy—EVERYONE. It was the happiest day of my college career.

Why do I bring this up now? You might think it a little strange that while others were studying or finding future mates, I was mooning over milk and cereal. Well, Mom and Dad, it finally paid off: the incredibly kind folks at General Mills recently invited me to their headquarters in Minneapolis to check out the behind the scenes of happy cereal land (note: those were not their exact words).

General Mills began back in 1880 with Gold Medal flour and has expanded to include brand like Pillsbury, Green Giant, Betty Crocker and of course, Cheerios. Other cereal brands include Wheaties, Fiber One, Lucky Charms and most importantly, Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Their Minneapolis headquarters is home to 3,000 employees, many of whom have had parents and even grandparents who have worked there over the years. It is clear that General Mills is much beloved in its hometown.

It is also clear that we would immediately become friends. It's pretty simple, since I'm a fool for cereal and so are the wonderful folks at General Mills. Here's a quick tour of the place, the first in a three-part series we'll be running in coming weeks.

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