Lester Borchardt – Cheerios were invented by Lester Borchardt in 1941.
Cheerios originated from the American company General Mills in Minnesota in May 1941. The first cereal was actually called CheeriOats because it was made from oats but graduated to be renamed Cheerios by 1945.
Lester Borchardt and his team had spent a long time and a lot of money experimenting with how to get the oats to puff out into the shape that we see today, similar to puffed rice which already existed at the time. General Mills eventually cancelled the project as they hadn’t perfected the machine and technique to produce the Cheerios but Borchardt knew he was close to resolving the problems and continued his research until two months later he worked out how to create them.
This was how General Mills gained the now globally consumed product they have now.
The timing of the new cereal being introduced also helped to address common health problems which were a result of unhealthy eating. The main benefits of eating them as part of a healthy diet were that they could help reduce cholesterol and the risk of heart disease because they were a good source of fibre. This has been proven more in recent times with our increased research and knowledge about the impact of what we eat on our health.
Cheerios really became popular through the 1950’s by General Mills implementing clever advertising and marketing plans to compete against the known big brand Kellogg who were already very established in the breakfast cereal market.
One campaign was the creation of their lucky charm Cheery O’ Leary who was an animated character distributed mainly in printed form through the 1940’s as TV did not exist widely then. Cheery O’Leary became the mascot for the brand and the next major successful campaign was that Cheerios sponsored a famous radio show in America called The Lone Ranger which continued for 20 years. General Mills then created a new character in the 1950’s to replace Cheery O’Leary and this was a television based character known as The Cheerio Kid.
Cheerios are now sold in more than 130 countries world-wide and have a diverse variety of options including the UK version which includes other cereal grains such as puffed rice.