Black Bart Outlaw Wore Sperry Flour sack
Aug 26, 2011 • By

Our connection to “Black Bart”

Between 1875 and 1883, a man going by the name “Black Bart” committed 28 robberies of Wells Fargo stagecoaches across California.

He was Charles Earl Bowles (who also used the surnames Bolton and Boles), an English-born outlaw known for the poetic messages left after his hold-ups (signing them mysteriously as “Black Bart the P o 8).

“Black Bart” has some interesting historical connections to General Mills.

One of them involves the flour sack he wore over his head when he robbed the stagecoaches. It was a sack for Sperry flour. The Sperry Flour Company began its milling operations in Stockton, Calif., in 1852. General Mills acquired Sperry in 1929.

The other connection to us is a TV commercial.

In 1986, one of our Honey Nut Cheerios TV ads starred actress Victoria Jackson (from “Saturday Night Live” fame) with a fictional gun fighter from the old west.

His name?

“Black Bart.”

Visit BlackBart.com for more information.

Editor’s note: The photo of Charles Earl Bowles, known as Black Bart, was used in a May 1966 edition of “The Modern Millwheel.” The photo of some of the famous Sperry brands is from the 1918 Sperry Flour Co.’s handbook for the interest of foreign buyers.

Have a question about General Mills’ history? Send our Archives team an email.

By clicking "post" below, I affirm that I have read and agree to General Mills' Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and Community Rules. I specifically agree that all information, suggestions, ideas, or other materials I provide are freely usable and transferable, including with attribution, by General Mills and all of its affiliates without compensation upon submission.