Our connection to classic cartoons
General Mills has been a pioneer in countless marketing and advertising arenas. But did you know that in the 1960s, we even had a media and shows division dedicated to creating children’s animated TV shows?
General Mills’ media and shows division worked directly with studios such as Hanna-Barbera and Total Television, and with cartoonists such as Bullwinkle creator Jay Ward to create and supply fully-produced half-hour cartoon shows to television stations.
Our initial foray into animated television began in prime time with the November 1959 debut on ABC of “Rocky and His Friends,” a Jay Ward Productions cartoon about a flying rodent named Rocket J. Squirrel and his dimwitted sidekick, Bullwinkle J. Moose.
Two years later, in a nod to the moose’s growing popularity, the show was moved to evenings on NBC and renamed “The Bullwinkle Show.”
For General Mills, it was just the beginning.
A partnership with Total Television Productions soon followed. This company produced cartoons such as “King Leonardo and His Short Subjects,” “Tennessee Tuxedo and his Tales” and its most popular, “Underdog,” which debuted in 1964.
Near the end of our cartoon venture in the late 1960s, we worked with Hanna-Barbera to produce “Young Samson and Goliath.”
Not only were these a great way to market our products, but several of General Mills’ animated cartoon programs are considered true classics.
Both “The Bullwinkle Show” (No. 11) and “Underdog” (No. 74) rank prominently on IMDB’s list of the “100 Greatest Animated Series of All Time.”
Editor’s note: In 2016, General Mills is celebrating its 150th anniversary. This story is part of a year-long series on “A Taste of General Mills” to highlight the people, products and projects that have contributed to the company’s legacy. Discover more about our past on GeneralMills.com and GeneralMillsHistory.com. If you have a question about our history, or would like to donate an item to the company archives, send our Archives team an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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