basketball-history-feature
Apr 04, 2019 • By

Basketball hoopla in our hometown

Basketball fans are in our hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota, this weekend to watch four of the best college teams in the U.S. compete for a championship.

While General Mills isn’t officially part of the big tournament hoopla this year, we do have a long history with basketball.General-Mills-bball-hoop-products

To throw it way back, let’s start in January 1921. Because we just have to show you this photo – it’s our employee basketball team, which won the City Amateur Championship in Minneapolis in the 1921-1922 season. The uniforms are a bit different from today, wouldn’t you say?

General-Mills-Employee-Basketball-team

But our biggest connection to basketball over the years has been the Wheaties box.

The first player to appear on the iconic cereal box was a woman, Babe Didrikson, in 1935. She was featured on the back of a Wheaties box (the brand didn’t put athletes on the front until 1958). In fact, she was the first female athlete in any sport on the Wheaties box.

Wheaties-Babe-Didrikson-1935

George Mikan, the basketball legend who played for our hometown Minneapolis Lakers between 1947 and 1956, appeared on the Wheaties box four times during his career, including on these trading cards.

1951-Wheaties-GeorgeMikan

Chicago’s Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest basketball player of all time, topped that. He appeared on 18 commemorative Wheaties boxes (13 by himself, the rest with his teams).

In 1959, the “Wheaties Sports Federation” released a book for players and coaches titled “How to Improve Your Basketball.”

Wheaties-Basketball-book-cover

The 80-page book was filled with rules, drills and tips for players of all levels. These two pages taught the principles of the pivot.

Wheaties-bball-pivot

For a time, we even had a basketball cereal. Wheaties gave a hat tip to its sports heritage with the limited 1994 release of Dunk-A-Balls – cereal puffs that looked like little basketballs.1994- Dunk-A-Balls-Hoopla

Billed as “The breakfast of champions for kids,” Dunk-A-Balls tasted like traditional Wheaties, but in crunchy little puffs. The back of the box featured a cut-out activity so cereal lovers could turn their cereal bowls into basketball hoops!

Wheaties-BasketBowl

In addition to Wheaties, we’ve also had a lot of basketball-related premiums over the years, including a Dunkaroos basketball game in 1996.Dunkaroos-basketball-hoop

And in 1996 we had a jersey premium with the “Space Jam” movie.Wheaties-basketball-promo

But my favorite basketball-related promotion happened just a few months ago, in August 2018, when we teamed up with Nike and basketball star Kyrie Irving for limited-edition basketball shoes.

The Nike Kyrie 4 “Cereal Pack” included shoes inspired by Lucky Charms, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Kix.

Kyrie-cereal-shoes

This weekend, if you’re in Minneapolis for the big basketball games, you might just spot our “Wheaties Wall.” If you see it, snap a photo in front of the box and share it on social media using #WheatiesWall.

Here’s one of our Wheaties team colleagues doing his best Michael Jordan impression.

Wheaties-wall-pose

Whether you’re watching from the couch or cheering from the stands, we hope everyone has a slam dunk weekend watching college basketball’s best men’s teams this season, in the city where our company got its start.

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