Let’s Raise a Bowl to the Little Fella
When we think of St. Patrick’s day, undoubtedly certain foods come to mind: corned beef and cabbage, potatoes, maybe even a pint or two. And, if you are feeling really jovial, that pint of beer may come in a festive green. But that’s not the only St. Patrick’s Day food that comes in an unhealthy shade of green. No, there’s also that sugary breakfast treat known as Lucky Charms.
Turns out Lucky the Leprechaun, the somewhat creepy mascot from Lucky charms, just had a birthday last year, turning 50. As evidenced by the picture below, Lucky was even a little more creepy back then:
The cereal itself is a bit older, having been released in 1963, much to the delight of children everywhere.
So who was the genius who came up with adding candy to cereal? Well, his name was John Holahan, and he began testing things that could be added to either Wheaties or Cheerios (all three are made by General Mills). Holahan then added Circus Peanuts to the cereal. While it was not quite the product we have today, it did provide the inspiration for the stroke of genius that was to be Lucky Charms.
But what was it that caused Holahan to experiment in the first place? Turns out General Mills was looking for ideas for a new cereal, and they wanted it done fast. The research department was challenged to come up with a new children’s cereal in six months time, as compared to the normal two to three years that it generally took to release a new cereal. Thus came the idea to add whatever they could think of to a cereal already produced by the company, and it turned out to be the Cheerios. Holahan was a VP at the company, and he got his inspiration walking through the grocery store where he saw Circus Peanuts which, inexplicably, were his favorite candy. However (and thankfully), General Mills decided on making their own marshmallow pieces, which are officially referred to as marbits.
Now, I know what you are thinking: those aren’t Cheerios in my Lucky Charms. According to the General Mills website, that is how they were rolled out, and what a roll out it was. It was one of the most expensive advertising campaigns of its time, with full color ads in the Sunday comics and comic books. Perfect for kids to see and then nag their parents about. It wasn’t until 1967 that they added a “kiss of sugar frosting” to the oat cereal.
There have been other changes over time, most notably to the types of marshmallows found in the cereal, as only the pink heart remains from the original marbits. For the most part, though, Lucky Charms have remained that wonderful treat that kids love and perhaps moms and dentists don’t. But today, on St. Patrick’s Day, I think we can all agree that having a delicious bowl and then downing that bluish-green milk residue in the bowl is the only way to get your day started off right.
What’s the moral of the story? Maybe it’s that you never know when you will get Lucky and inspiration will strike. Who knows, maybe you lead a Charmed enough existence that the even the lowly circus peanut will do the trick. Either way America, keep inventing, and when you do, we at US Patent Services will be there for you.