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The Evolution of Cheerios: From Nearly Different Shapes to Iconic O’s

Cheerios Were Almost a Completely Different Shape

If you consider yourself a cereal connoisseur with a broad knowledge of everything from Reese’s Puffs’ collaboration with Travis Scott to Kellogg’s new Cosmic Brownie cereal, then it’s safe to say you’ve paid your dues and earned some serious recognition and a possible trophy – or a job at General Mills.

The origins of Cheerios

The recognizable shape we’ve all come to know and love is largely credited to food science innovator Lester Borchardt and the rest of his team at General Mills Research Laboratories, according to My Recipes. Tasked with creating a ready-to-eat cereal, Borchardt and his team came up with a number of possibilities for the new cereal, which consisted of different shapes and sizes, ranging from multiple pointy stars to spirals and squares.

The O-Shaped Revolution

After much trial and error, the doughnut-shaped “O” and its ability to fit perfectly into the package was chosen. When Cheerios was introduced in 1941, the public was incredibly receptive because there wasn’t anything quite like it on the market. One advertisement for Cheerios at the time said, “Cheerios don’t even look like any breakfast food you’ve ever seen. We blow them out of cannons in the clever shape of little miniature doughnuts…fat and round and toasty brown.”

The success of Cheerios

Fast forward to the 21st century, and it’s easy to see why Cheerios was the best-selling ready-to-eat cereal brand in the country in 2019, specifically the Honey Nut Cheerios variety (via Statista). The O-shaped cereal has become an iconic symbol of breakfast, loved by millions for its simplicity and versatility.

Imagine a different world

But can you imagine what the world would be like if Cheerios were stars or any other shape? The O-shape is so ingrained in our culture and breakfast routines that it’s hard to imagine Cheerios being anything else. The unique shape not only provides a distinct visual appeal, but also contributes to the texture and eating experience of the cereal. It’s a testament to the power of innovation and the impact a simple design choice can have on a product’s success.

Cereal connoisseurs unite

For those who pride themselves on their cereal expertise, knowing the history and evolution of iconic cereals like Cheerios adds another layer of appreciation. It’s fascinating to learn about the creative process behind the development of a beloved breakfast staple and how small decisions can shape an entire industry.

The Legacy of Cheerios

As we continue to enjoy our bowls of Cheerios, let’s take a moment to appreciate the O shape that almost wasn’t. It’s a reminder that even the most iconic products and brands have humble beginnings, and that sometimes the right shape can make all the difference. So the next time you pour yourself a bowl of Cheerios, remember to savor not just the taste, but the story behind those little O’s that have become a breakfast tradition for generations.
In closing, Cheerios’ journey from various shapes and sizes to the famous O shape is a testament to the power of innovation and the impact of design choices. The story of Cheerios is a reminder that even the simplest decisions can have a profound impact on a product’s success and cultural significance. So the next time you enjoy a bowl of Cheerios, take a moment to appreciate the O and the rich history it represents.


Some of the different shapes considered for Cheerios included multiple pointed stars, spirals, and squares.

Who is credited with inventing the iconic O-shaped Cheerios?

Lester Borchardt and his team at General Mills Research Laboratories are credited with the invention of the iconic O-shaped Cheerios.

Why was the O shape ultimately chosen for Cheerios?

The O-shape was chosen for Cheerios because it was a perfect fit for the package and had a visually appealing design.

When were Cheerios first introduced and how were they received?

Cheerios was first introduced in 1941 and was well received by the public. Its unique shape and toasted brown appearance set it apart from other breakfast cereals at the time.

Why did the O-shaped Cheerios become so popular?

The O-shaped Cheerios has become popular because of its simplicity, versatility and great eating experience. Its iconic shape has become synonymous with breakfast cereal.

How has the shape of Cheerios influenced its success as a brand?

The O-shaped design of Cheerios has played a significant role in its success as a brand. The distinctive shape has made it easily recognizable and contributed to its appeal to consumers.

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