Archives returns to our roots
Betty Crocker, Poppin’ Fresh, the Green Giant and Cadwallader Washburn – along with a slew of historic General Mills artifacts and memorabilia – are on the move.
The General Mills Archives department is relocating from our headquarters to our Riverside Technical Center – near the banks of the Mississippi River where our history began – into a more spacious area, says Susan Wakefield, corporate archivist.
“Our new space will be wonderful for our growing collection of General Mills artifacts,” says Susan. “And we’re relocating to near where our company’s history began in 1866.”
For more than 30 years, the Archives team has been housed in the basement of our Minnesota headquarters. The collection includes historical packaging, print advertising, brochures, newsletters, photographs, oral histories, speeches and more.
There’s the first common stock certificate for General Mills issued to James Ford Bell, former company president, in 1928; a patent certificate issued in 1923 for Gold Medal cake flour, and even the clay pieces of the Poppin’ Fresh figurines used in stop motion animation for 1960s- and 1970s-era television commercials for Pillsbury.
At 4,000-square feet, the new facility is about 38 percent larger than the current site.
It will have a dedicated space for research, a temporary storage/processing room for newly received donations, and an art room for framed pieces from the collection such as portraits, including our founders Cadwallader Washburn and John Crosby.
And the only known image of Betty Crocker in a green dress.
Like the current site, the new location will include mobile shelving designed to save space, and a glass display case for artifacts that trace the history of General Mills. And, of course, the space will be climate- and humidity-controlled.
The Archives department has been an invaluable resource for General Mills. Through the years, many have relied on it for research. And just as many have used it to revive great campaigns and designs from the past.
The Big G team, for example, turned to Archives for original packaging designs for cereals such as Cheerios, Lucky Charms, Cocoa Puffs and Trix that have been marketed at Target stores as “retro cereals” for several years.
Also, film studios and television networks approach Archives for props.
Recently, ABC television requested product packaging images of discontinued cereals for its 1980s-era sitcom “The Goldbergs.” Susan says her team sent a number of images for defunct cereals, including Crazy Cow, Donutz and Rocky Road.
A couple years ago, film director J.J. Abrams sought images of Hamburger Helper and Tuna Helper, and the recreations were used in a scene from his science fiction thriller “Super 8” set in 1979.
And this past summer, the German Federal Agency for Civic Education requested audio for a 1926 Wheaties radio jingle, considered the world’s first recorded singing advertisement.
Susan says long-term plans will include creating online access for viewing images and information from the entire collection.
“I’m looking forward to employees visiting our new location and continuing to use Archives as a springboard toward getting new ideas for marketing our products – just as we’ve done consistently for several years,” she says.
We’ll be sure to show you what the new space looks like, once Susan and her team are moved in.