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Wheaties Beer: Breakfast of Champions?

Wheaties Beer: Breakfast of Champions?
August 14
09:09 2015

Lou Gehrig

We’ll have to wait and see if the new Wheaties beer will catch on, but it seems pretty clear that it will never be the breakfast of champions.

That’s right, Wheaties is teaming up with Fulton Brewery, in Minneapolis, Minn., to create Hefe Wheaties, a wheat beer.

“We were intrigued from the get-go on this idea for many reasons, including that we’re both Minneapolis companies, and that the beer and the cereal both started from the same place in terms of raw ingredients and the same city,” says Ryan Petz, president and co-founder of Fulton.

But will drinking Wheaties beer make your bud wiser? Or will he just become a rebel without a Coors?

General Mills and Fulton Brewery are hoping the wheat beer will catch on faster than you can say “Snap! Crackle! Pop!”

Kind of how the Wheaties cereal took off.

Wheaties was created in 1922, as a result of an accidental spill of a wheat bran mixture onto a hot stove by a clinician working for the Washburn Crosby Company (later General Mills).

It took more than three dozen tries before they could get the rich texture so the cereal could survive packaging and shipping. But Washburn’s Gold Medal Whole Wheat Flakes – that’s a mouthful! – were on the market in time for Christmas, 1926.

The name needed improving, though. So Washburn Crosby held an employee contest and the winning entry – Wheaties – was offered by Jane Bausman.

The cereal hit the shelves and almost immediately had a tie-in with sports. The Minneapolis radio station – owned by Washburn Crosby – aired minor league baseball games and Wheaties commercials began appearing on the air. Soon there was a billboard at the park and public relations man Knox Reeves thought up the first – and best – slogan: “Breakfast of Champions.”

In fact Wheaties was the subject of the first-ever commercial radio jingle. That was on December 24, 1926.

Wheaties’ connection to sports  – and popularity – grew during the 1930s.

There’s no question Wheaties can change your life. In 1937 a radio announcer was named the top Wheaties announcer in the U.S. He won an all-expense paid trip to California to watch the Chicago Cubs train. While there, he took a screen test at Warner Brothers … became a movie star … a governor … and, well, you probably know the rest of Ronald Reagan’s story.

It’s less clear whether Wheaties had anything to do with the change in Bruce Jenner’s life. He was a Wheaties spokesman in 1977.

Maybe Hefe Wheaties will be popular at Minnesota Twins games, but will it receive cheers in the monster seats at Fenway Park?

Only time will tell. But early reaction is positive.

“They’re grrrreat!” Tony T. Tiger exclaimed.tonySM

“They’re magically delicious,” agreed Lep Ree Khan.

One can only imagine the pictures that could end up on a Wheaties can. Maybe Nick Nolte on a bad day?

Speaking of pictures, the recordholder for appearing on the most Wheaties boxes is Michael Jordan, with 18. Tiger Woods is next, at 14.

Who was the first athlete on a Wheaties box, you wonder? It was Yankees slugger Lou Gehrig, in 1934. The first woman to grace the box was aviator Elinor Smith in the same year.

Proving to be well ahead of the nation on equal rights, the first black to appear on the box was Jesse Owens, in 1936. Of course, Owens was on the back of the box.

But – wait! It wasn’t a slight, all the pictures were on the back of the box. Until 1958 – when pole vaulter Bob Richards made the leap to the front of the box. Oh, and the first woman didn’t grace the front of the box until 1984. It was Mary Lou Retton.

Well, the Wheaties cereal has stood the test of time, but will the beer capture the taste buds?

If not, it’ll be beer today, and gone tomorrow.



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