Jun 08, 2021 • By

A century of Champions

100 years ago in Minneapolis, Minnesota, an accidental spill of bran gruel on a hot stove – which turned it into a crispy wheat flake – was the start of the creation of Wheaties.

100 years later, we’re celebrating the birth and cultural legacy of arguably the most-recognizable cereal box in the world.

Our celebration begins today, with the unveiling of the Century Collector Box series, starting with a collectible Wheaties box featuring humanitarian and boxing legend Muhammad Ali.


The box will be available soon in U.S. stores.

In addition, you also can purchase a premium gold foil Ali box, shown below, on Shop.Wheaties.com starting today, June 8.


This is Ali’s third time on the Wheaties box. He was first honored in 1999, then again as part of a limited-edition series in 2012.

The choice of Ali to kick off the 100th anniversary celebration for Wheaties was a natural one, given the brand’s commitment to choosing athletes who make an impact in much more than the sport they are famous for.

“We partner with athletes who stand for more than just their athletic accomplishments,” says Rachel Letsche, Brand Experience assistant manager, Wheaties. “Muhammad Ali is one of the most amazing champions in sports and society. His humanitarian work really resonates with us. He’s the perfect Champion to help us begin to tell our anniversary story.”


How Wheaties got its start

The discovery of a wheat flake, from a spill of bran gruel on a stove in 1921, was made by a clinician working with patients in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

He had a legal representative contact our predecessor company, Washburn Crosby, about his discovery. The idea went right to James Ford Bell, company president.

Bell asked George Cormack, head miller for Washburn Crosby, to start the hard work to get the wheat flakes just right.


A couple years and 36 formulas later, Cormack finally had it. The recipe was cooked up and first sold as “Gold Medal Whole Wheat Flakes.”

But that name didn’t stick. In 1925, the company decided to hold a naming contest with employees. Jane Bausman, the wife of an export manager, came up with “Wheaties” (which beat out “Nutties”).


The Century Collector Box series and more

Muhammad Ali is just the start of a multi-part Century Collector Box series launching this year. It will feature inspirational champions that span across decades, sports, and unforgettable cultural moments.

Each Century Collector Box will feature instantly recognizable athletes who have previously graced the Wheaties box and shaped sports culture. Wheaties chose to kick off the series with Ali given that his six core principles of confidence, conviction, dedication, giving, spirituality, and respect reflected his approach to opponents inside and outside of the ring.

Stay tuned for the next box reveal – and some other surprises – including new collectables and Wheaties merchandise.


A new generation of Champions

Some of the greatest athletes in history have been honored on Wheaties boxes. In the last few years, the team behind “The Breakfast of Champions” has redefined what it means to be a Champion and to champion, reserving the iconic orange box for athletes who are using their sports platform for something greater.

The brand’s culture-defining, collectible boxes showcase that greatness can occur on and off the field and boldly give a platform to athletes’ causes.

From Serena Williams in 2019 to LeBron James in 2020 and Tommie Smith in 2021, Wheaties is making an impact.

“Wheaties has been integral to culture and sports since the beginning,” adds Letsche. “Today, as we celebrate where Wheaties has been, we also think about where the brand is going and how we can empower and inspire the next generation of Champions.”

From its humble beginnings to decades of honoring the best in sports, the Wheaties legacy endures into a second century.

Subscribe to “A Taste of General Mills” by email – here – and we’ll notify you about our latest posts.