Fiber One: 30 years of regular customers
It’s been 30 years since original Fiber One cereal debuted. Today, the brand is thriving, with more than 50 products in several food categories, thanks to a devoted and steady stream of – pardon the pun – regular customers.
When brainstorming began on the brand in 1983, America was in the midst of a trend where more people wanted foods with higher fiber content.
General Mills didn’t have a bran-based cereal that appealed to adults. But company leadership didn’t want just any bran cereal. It wanted a high fiber cereal with less sugar
Jim Klande, a retired General Mills cereal development leader, was among several players behind Fiber One cereal.
Jim says he never envisioned the longevity of the Fiber One brand or its expansion beyond the cereal category into areas that include bars, brownies, cookies, pudding and even cottage cheese.
Debuts in July 1985
Fiber One debuted nationally in July 1985. For the first five years, sales were steady despite a pullback in marketing dollars.
“There was a core group of people who were going to buy Fiber One whether it was advertised or not,” says Jim .
That was a bit of a surprise. Klande had witnessed the company’s numerous attempts at fiber-based cereals.
Challenges for shape and flavor
The General Mills team faced challenges developing a cereal whose main ingredients would be wheat bran and corn bran – typically used for cattle feed. The biggest challenge was how to work with bran, which is notoriously unstable to handle. Quality control was essential to ensure a safe product. This was mostly solved by proper drying and treatment of the bran during production.
Other challenges included the shape and flavor of the cereal. They experimented with bran flakes, shreds and even tried to make puffs.
By April 1983, six prototypes were given during in-home tests. Flakes, shreds and a cone-shaped cereal were considered, along with plain, orange and maple flavors.
At first, it was called “Highest Fiber.” The name referred to it being the cereal with the highest fiber content, with 11 grams.
But that name was shelved.
“We worried about someone coming out with a product that had a little bit more fiber – 11.5 grams. Then we would no longer have the highest fiber,” Jim says.
Since the cereal would be No. 1 in fiber, General Mills decided to call it Fiber One.
Changes through the years
The original cereal has undergone many transformations.
In 2005, it switched to using whole grain rather than just wheat bran and corn bran when General Mills converted all its cereals to whole grain.
And someone did produce a cereal with more than 11.5 grams of fiber. Turns out, it was General Mills.
Today, Fiber One cereal contains 14 grams of fiber per serving.
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