General Mills and Pillsbury began as two separate and competing mills on opposite banks of the Mississippi River. Together, the two companies made Minneapolis one of the world’s premier milling cities.
Cadwallader Washburn builds his first flour mill on the banks of the Mississippi River in Minneapolis. It is one of the largest flour mills in the world.
With his father and uncle, Charles Pillsbury enters the flour business, buying an interest in the failing Minneapolis Flouring Mill. Within an year, Pillsbury makes a profit.
At a time when millers marked their highest-quality flour with three “X”s, Charles Pillsbury begins using four “X”s on his highest-quality flour, creating a distinction that would evolve to become the Pillsbury barrelhead trademark on Pillsbury’s Best flour.
The Washburn Crosby company wins the gold medal at the first Millers International Exhibition in Cincinnati, Ohio. The company renames its highest-quality product Gold Medal flour, which remains the best-selling flour brand in the United States today.
Betty Crocker is created as a pen name for answering consumer letters to the Washburn Crosby Company. Her first official portrait is created in 1936. The designer’s rendition, with a classic red jacket and white collar, established a tradition for future portraits.
Wheaties, the company’s first ready-to-eat cereal, is introduced. The Washburn Crosby Company purchases a radio station (WCCO) and begins airing popular radio shows and commercials.
The birth of General Mills and expansion after the war
With a mega-merger of several regional milling companies across the United States, General Mills was created.
General Mills is incorporated on June 20, 1928, and listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The new company includes some of the most respected names in flour, the General Mills becomes the largest flour milling company in the world.
Cheerioats cereal is introduced. Four years later, the name is changed to Cheerios.
Pillsbury purchases Ballard & Ballard Company. With the purchase comes that company’s patented refrigerated dough technology, allowing Pillsbuy to enter the category.
General Mills purchases U.S. licensing rights to Yoplait yogurt.
The first Häagen-Dazs shop is established in Hong Kong by General Mills, which has grown to be one of the most influential food companies in Greater China area.
General Mills establishes Cereal Partners Worldwide, a joint venture with Nestlé.
General Mills acquires the Pillsbury Company to form one of the world’s largest food companies.
General Mills pays shareholder dividends without interruption or reduction for 111 years.