His name was Wheaties
Evert Engstrom is probably the only person in the world who ever had the nickname of “Wheaties.” And maybe the only one who ever will.
You can give the credit for his connection to the cereal to his love of baseball.
As a boy, Engstrom wanted to watch his hometown minor league baseball team play. And a Wheaties promotion was a cheap way for he and his friends to get tickets.
It was the late 1920s, when Engstrom was about 10 years old.
His family says the Minneapolis Millers offered a ticket to their games, at Nicollet Park, for a few Wheaties box tops – and perhaps a nickel, too.
So Engstrom went door-to-door in his neighborhood, asking neighbors for their Wheaties box tops. He knocked on the doors of his neighbors so often that one of them gave him the nickname that would last all his life.
I learned about “Wheaties” Engstrom because his family reached out to us.
“He owned the nickname,” says Christiaan Engstrom, grandson. “He liked being called ‘Wheaties’ and his friends and family who grew up with him, and later in life who were with him, they only called him ‘Wheaties.’”
Because of that connection, the Engstrom family let us know that they had arranged to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at a Minnesota Twins game on August 23, to honor their patriarch’s memory, military service, and what would have been his 100th birthday.
You can see highlights of that night, in this video.
Evert Engstrom is probably the only person in the world who ever had the nickname of “Wheaties.” And maybe the only one who ever will. Learn more on our blog: blog.generalmills.com
The extended Engstrom family – which included children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren – attended the game. Jack Engstrom, a great grandson, threw the first pitch.
“My dad loved baseball, loved the Twins, and to be honored for his World War Two service … It’s just terrific,” said Greg Engstrom, Evert “Wheaties” Engstrom’s son. “I was just thinking, ‘Wow, how far we’ve come.’ My dad was born in 1919. It’s 100 years later, so he lives on.”
The “Wheaties” nickname followed Evert Engstrom to the U.S. Army, where he signed his letters home with it. He served in the 9th Armored Division, which took part in the Battle of the Bulge.
Once back home, Greg Engstrom recalls growing up and seeing “Wheaties” eat his Wheaties.
“He did eat Wheaties. He did, indeed,” says Greg. “We had always had Wheaties in the house.”
Evert “Wheaties” Engstrom would have turned 100 on August 30. He died in 2009, with family and friends recalling their time with “Wheaties” over the years, and his unique nickname.
“We just know there’s never been another ‘Wheaties’ that I know of. And there maybe probably never will,” adds Greg.
And it all started with a few neighbors in Minneapolis, who supported his love for baseball.
We’d like to thank the Engstrom family for helping us share his story.
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