general mills snacks
Aug 26, 2014 • By

How your favorite snacks are invented

Fudgy brownies under 100 calories. Nutty snack bars chock full of protein. Soft baked cookies secretly packed with fiber.

Ever wonder how your favorite snacks came to be?

No, they weren’t inventions by one genius individual, they were products of what we call “open innovation” – part of our General Mills Worldwide Innovation Network (G-WIN).

fiber one

Since we launched this strategy in 2007, we’ve challenged teams to be more connected, both with outside partners and suppliers as well as internally among divisions and teams. The delicious snacks above were developed in collaboration with strategic external partners.

G-WIN keeps growing because participants are rewarded and new roles have even been created. Like innovation entrepreneur, Jenny Maack-Mcaab, who is charged with making connections between the needs of our business and the capabilities of external partners.

Our Snacks division has embraced open innovation and snacks are now our second-largest global food category, generating more than $3.2 billion in worldwide net sales in 2013.

Jenny told us about the use of open innovation in our Snacks division, in this video clip:

Here are just a few reasons open innovation has been critical to snacks:

* Brings us ideas we may not have thought of on our own
* An outside perspective allows us to see things in a new way
* Key to keeping up with trends like better-for-you snacking

Those Fiber One 90-Calorie Brownies we mentioned earlier? The Fiber One team created the idea and concept.


The General Mills Research and Development department made the perfect dough. Then we teamed up with an open innovation partner to help save between nine months and a year to take the product from concept to launch. That means our moist, chocolaty 90-calorie brownie is ready to conquer your afternoon hunger that much more quickly.

Jenny explains the process to create the brownies, in this audio clip.


Following the success of Fiber One 90-Calorie Brownies, the innovation team set its sights on a craveable soft-baked cookie – Fiber One Soft-Baked Cookies.

chocolate chip cookie

They enlisted an outside partner with impressive expertise in producing soft-textured, packaged baked goods. Combined with the vast baking knowledge of our own internal teams, we all worked together to create Fiber One Soft-Baked Cookies and they were an immediate hit with consumers when they launched in January 2014.

The protein in Nature Valley Protein Bars comes from ingredients we all recognize like roasted peanuts and creamy peanut butter with almonds as well as soy protein.

nature valley

This tasty snack was also developed in collaboration with several external partners. For example, one partner helped us make sure each bar was packed full of great tasting protein. They taste so great, in fact, that Nature Valley Protein bars were recognized on Symphony I.R.I.’s 2012 New Products Pacesetters list and they were named “Most Innovative Product of 2013” by Consumer Goods Technology magazine.

Learn more about the General Mills Worldwide Innovation Network at and find out how some of your other favorite products came to be.