This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Cheerios" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (August 2021) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
A bowl of Cheerios cereal (Limited edition "With Happy Heart Shapes", c. 2022)
Product typeBreakfast cereal
OwnerGeneral Mills
Produced byGeneral Mills (US/Canada)
Nestlé (outside US/Canada)
CountryUnited States
IntroducedMay 2, 1941; 82 years ago (1941-05-02)
Nutritional value per 1 cup (28g)
Energy100 kcal (420 kJ)
Dietary fiber3
Vitamin A equiv.
10 μg
Vitamin C
10 mg
10 mg
45 mg
180 mg
140 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.

Cheerios is a brand of cereal manufactured by General Mills in the United States and Canada, consisting of pulverized oats in the shape of a solid torus. In some countries, including the United Kingdom, Cheerios is marketed by Cereal Partners under the Nestlé brand; in Australia and New Zealand, Cheerios is sold as an Uncle Tobys product. It was first manufactured in 1941 as CheeriOats.


Cheerios were introduced on May 2, 1941, as "Cheerioats". The name was shortened to "Cheerios" on December 2, 1945, after a competing cereal manufacturer, Quaker Oats, claimed to hold the rights to use the term "oats".[1]

Cheerios' production was based upon the extrusion process invented for Kix in 1937. The oat flour process starts in Minneapolis before being shipped to factories in Iowa, Georgia, and Buffalo, New York.[2]

On July 3, 1976, 35 years after the cereal was first introduced, "Cinnamon Nut Cheerios" became the first alternate variety of Cheerios to be sold in stores. Nearly 3 years later, on March 1, 1979, "Honey Nut Cheerios" was introduced.[3] General Mills sold approximately 1.8 million cases of Honey Nut Cheerios in its first year.

Since their introduction, Cheerios have become a popular baby food. Generally first fed to children aged 9–12 months, Cheerios serve to help infants transition to eating solid food, as well as develop fine motor skills.[4][promotional source?]


In January 2014, General Mills announced that it would halt the use of genetically modified ingredients in original Cheerios.[5] However, General Mills notes for Original Cheerios that "trace amounts of genetically modified (also known as 'genetically engineered') material may be present due to potential cross contact during manufacturing and shipping".[6] In February 2015, the company announced that it would be making Cheerios gluten-free by removing the traces of wheat, rye, and barley that usually come into contact with the oat supply used to make Cheerios during transportation to the General Mills plant in Buffalo, New York, along Lake Erie.

In the United Kingdom, Cheerios differ somewhat from their US counterpart, being made from oats, wheat and barley, thus Cheerios in the United Kingdom are not gluten-free.[7] Cheerios in the United States are made solely from oats and, since 2015, can be called gluten-free.[8]


Many television commercials for Cheerios have targeted children, featuring animated characters (such as a Honeybee). Bullwinkle was featured in early 1960s commercials, with the tagline at the end of the ad being "Go with Cheerios!" followed by Bullwinkle, usually worse for wear due to his Cheerios-inspired bravery somewhat backfiring, saying "...but watch where you're going!" Hoppity Hooper was also featured in ads in the mid-1960s; General Mills was the primary sponsor of his animated program.

Cheeri O'Leary

This cartoon character, a cheery young girl, was seen in 1942–1943 magazine advertising and Sunday newspaper's comics sections. These ads were multi-panel cartoons where Cheeri O'Leary interacted with entertainers of the day, including Charlotte Greenwood, Barbara Stanwyck, Dick Powell, Joan Blondell, Johnny Mack Brown,[9] Betty Hutton,[10] and Claudette Colbert.[11]

The Cheerios Kid

Beginning in the mid-1950s and continuing through the early 1960s, "The Cheerios Kid" was a mainstay in Cheerios commercials. The Kid, after eating Cheerios, quickly dealt with whatever problem presented in the commercial, using oat-produced "Big-G, little-o" "Go-power." By the late 1960s, there was a jingle called "Get Yourself Go" (written by Neil Diamond), which played as the two used power to solve the problem. The character was revived briefly in the late 1980s in similar commercials. In 2012, The Cheerios Kid and his sidekick Sue were revived in an internet video that showed how Cheerios "can lower cholesterol."[12][13] Video clips of "the Kid" and Sue are part of a montage included in a 2014 TV commercial, along with clips of the Honey Nut Cheerios bee's early commercials.


In 1984 and 1985, characters from the comic strip Peanuts were featured in many Cheerios commercials. In the commercials, the characters become tired in the middle of performing an activity (e.g. taking a dance lesson, or playing tennis), but then another character tells them that they did not have a healthy Cheerios breakfast. Then, at the end of the commercial, the character would be energized, followed by children singing "You're on your toes with Cheerios!"

Spoonfuls of Stories

The Spoonfuls of Stories program, begun in 2002, is sponsored by Cheerios and a 50/50 joint venture of General Mills and Simon & Schuster. Mini-sized versions of Simon & Schuster children's books are published within the program when the book drive occurs.[14][15] The program also includes a New Author contest; winners' books are published in miniature inside boxes of Cheerios.[16][17]

Shawn Johnson

In 2009, Olympic gold medalist and World Champion gymnast Shawn Johnson became the first athlete to have her photo featured on the front of the Cheerios box. The limited edition was distributed in the Midwestern region of the United States by the Hy-Vee grocery store chain.[18][19]

Just Checking

In 2013, a Cheerios commercial aired, titled "Just Checking," showcasing an interracial family in which a daughter asks her mother (white) if Cheerios is good for the heart, as her father (black) mentioned. The mother says the cereal is suitable according to the box which states that whole grain oats lower cholesterol. The next scene features the father waking up as a pile of Cheerios spills down his chest, which the daughter placed there having taken her father's words literally. The commercial received unintentional notoriety due to intense backlash. This was so extreme that General Mills disabled further comments on the video.[20] In 2014, General Mills released a Super Bowl ad titled "Gracie," featuring the same family: in the commercial, the father, using Cheerios to illustrate his meaning, tells the daughter that a new baby is coming, that her mother is pregnant, and the daughter accepts this—as long as they also get a puppy—and the father agrees, while the mother looks a little surprised.


To promote the premiere of the Vortexx Saturday morning block on The CW Television Network in August 2012, special boxes of Cheerios were branded as "Vortexx O's," complete with the schedule on the back, and the wordmark plastered on one of the Vortexx promotional backgrounds. Toys were also included in the box, featuring John Cena, Iron Man, and the Pink Power Ranger.[citation needed]

Good Goes Around

In 2017, Latrell James was hired to sing a song for a new Cheerios commercial, with the refrain "Good goes around and around and around."[21]

Murray the Brave

In May 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada, it partnered with Food Banks Canada to do a tribute to food bank workers.[22]

Return of "Cheerioats" for 80th Anniversary

Beginning in July 2021, a limited re-release of Cheerios cereal was made across North American markets by reusing the original-brand name "Cheerioats" instead of "Cheerios." Cheerioats used the same ingredients as modern-day Cheerios but were repackaged in a throwback campaign to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Cheerios cereals being sold (1941–2021).[23]


Licensed products

Discontinued products

2009 FDA demand

In May 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent a letter[32] to General Mills indicating that Cheerios was being sold as an unapproved new drug, due to labeling which read in part:

  • "You can Lower Your Cholesterol 4% in 6 weeks"
  • "Did you know that in just 6 weeks Cheerios can reduce bad cholesterol by an average of 4 percent? Cheerios is ... clinically proven to lower cholesterol. A clinical study showed that eating two 1½ cup servings daily of Cheerios cereal reduced bad cholesterol when eaten as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol."

The FDA letter indicated that General Mills needed to change the way it marketed Cheerios or apply for federal approval to sell Cheerios as a drug. General Mills responded with a statement that the FDA had approved their claim of soluble fiber content, and that claims about lowering cholesterol had been featured on the box for two years.[33]

In 2012, the FDA followed up with a letter approving the Cheerios labeling and declaring that the matter was moot and required no further action.[34]

See also


  1. ^ McDonough, John (2015). The Advertising Age Encyclopedia of Advertising. Routledge. ISBN 9781135949136.
  2. ^ "Cheerios Celebrates 75 Years of Turning Oats to O's". ABC News.
  3. ^ Elliott, Stuart (June 27, 2011). "7 Agencies Will Tell You This Cereal Is No. 1". The New York.
  4. ^ "First Finger Foods". Cheerios. Retrieved September 6, 2021.
  5. ^ Walsh, Bryan (January 20, 2014). "Cheerios has ditched GMOs. Does it matter?". Time. Vol. 183, no. 2. p. 15. The whole-grain oats that are the main ingredient of Cheerios have always been GMO-free, but General Mills is now ensuring that the sugar and cornstarch used in the cereal come from non-GMO sources.
  6. ^ "Original Cheerios | Gluten Free Oat Cereal". Cheerios.
  7. ^ "Cheerios® Multigrain Cheerios®". Nestlé Cereals. Retrieved August 11, 2023.
  8. ^ "Original Cheerios". Cheerios. General Mills.
  9. ^ "Johnny Mack Brown Meets Cheeri O'Leary." Philadelphia Inquirer, 16 August 1942.
  10. ^ "Cheeri O'Leary Learns How Betty Huttton Won Stardom Almost Overnight." Philadelphia Inquirer, 11 July 1943.
  11. ^ "Cheeri O'Leary Visits Lovely Claudette Colbert, Brightest Star in Hollywood." Philadelphia Inquirer, 5 September 1943.
  12. ^ Schultz, E.J. (September 17, 2012). "General Mills Brings Back Green Giant, Cheerios Kid In Nostalgic Appeal". Advertising Age.
  13. ^ 1950s-1970s Cheerios Commercials (The Cheerios Kid). YouTube. November 28, 2010.[dead YouTube link]
  14. ^ "Cheerios – Spoonsfuls of Stories". Simon and Schuster. Archived from the original on January 5, 2014. Retrieved January 3, 2014.
  15. ^ Beder, Sharon. "Sponsorship and Donations – Book Donations". Business Managed Democracy. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  16. ^ "The Lost (and Found) Balloon by Celeste Jenkins, Maria Bogade". Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  17. ^ "Cheerios – Spoonsfuls of Stories – New Author Contest". Simon and Schuster. Archived from the original on January 5, 2014. Retrieved January 3, 2014.
  18. ^ "Front sports briefs". Dubuque Telegraph Herald. The Associated Press. December 14, 2008. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015.
  19. ^ "Special Promotions – Shawn Johnson Cheerios Box". Archived from the original on May 21, 2011.
  20. ^ Harris, Aisha (May 31, 2013). "Cheerios Ad Brings Out the Racists". Slate. Retrieved October 26, 2014.
  21. ^ Bodden, Shawn; Chakrabarti, Meghna (June 23, 2017). "Latrell James, Boston-Based Rapper, Makes Good Go Around". Retrieved December 21, 2020.
  22. ^ Lombardo, Christopher (May 6, 2020). "Cheerios pivots its Olympic platform to 'cheer' on food bank workers". Strategy. The General Mills brand is using the ad space originally slated for Olympic-themed creative to showcase Murray, an animated everyman based on an actual food bank volunteer meant to personify workers everywhere. With pastel hues, 'Murray the Brave' is shown boxing up food for those in need in a 30-second spot, including Cheerios
  23. ^ "Cheerios Returns to Original Cheerioats Name to Celebrate its 80th Anniversary". Retrieved September 28, 2021.
  24. ^ "Cinnamon Nut Cheerios".
  25. ^ "All Products : Bestsellers". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
  26. ^ "COMPANY NEWS: Cheerios and X's; How to Play With Cereal, But Without the Milk". The New York Times. June 23, 1993.
  27. ^ Tatum, Kevin (May 29, 1997). "Breakfast With Northampton's Champs. 1996 Softball Squad Depicted On Cereal Box". The Philadelphia Inquirer.
  28. ^ Schevitz, Tanya (February 25, 1998). "Cereal Toasts De La Salle / Football team lauded on Cheerios box for victory record". San Francisco Chronicle.
  29. ^ Hoye, Sue (December 28, 1999). "Marketing 2000 as the millennium". CNN. Archived from the original on January 5, 2014. Retrieved January 4, 2014.
  30. ^ "Cheerios cereal celebrates its 70th birthday". KABC-TV Los Angeles, CA. June 24, 2011. Archived from the original on January 5, 2014. Retrieved January 4, 2014.
  31. ^ Cheerios [@cheerios] (March 1, 2016). "@NumberEighty3 unfortunately, Banana Nut Cheerios have been discontinued :( So sorry for any inconvenience! ^C" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  32. ^ "Warning Letters - General Mills, Inc. 5/5/09". Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations. U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  33. ^ "Popular cereal is a drug, US food watchdog says". AFP News. May 12, 2009. Archived from the original on May 19, 2009.
  34. ^ "Letter to General Mills Concerning Cheerios Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal Labeling". Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine. U.S. FDA. May 3, 2012.