If you go by 1960s cereal standards, Lucky Charms was an overnight success. Back in the day, it could take upwards of three years to develop a new cereal from creation to fruition but executives at General Mills had given their researchers a formidable challenge – create a new product within six months. The result was a beloved breakfast cereal that has charmed kids ever since.
The year was 1962, and the food development team at General Mills decided to take one of two existing popular products, Wheaties or Cheerios, and create something new and unique. The group headed out to the grocery store to see what items might mix well with the existing cereals. Just about every candy, cookie or snack food was considered, but in the end they whittled it down to two candidates – Wheaties with Oreo cookies or Cheerios with Cirus Peanuts. The latter won out, but one can’t help but ponder how tasty the former might have been. We’ll never know for sure.
Meanwhile, the folks at Kraft began manufacturing little bits of dried marshmallow that they dubbed “marbits” exclusively for Lucky Charms. They developed the now-familiar yellow moons, orange stars, pink hearts and green clovers. The advertising team created a jovial leprechaun mascot, first named “L.C. Leprechaun,” then “Sir Charms” before settling on the simpler “Lucky.” A new star was born, one who would faithfully appear during every Saturday morning commercial break. With his Irish accent, Lucky reminded kids that this new cereal was “magically delicious!” Kids thought the idea of marshmallows in cereal was nothing short of amazing, and parents were placated by the assurance that the vitamin fortified cereal was “part of nutritional breakfast.”