Lucky Charms is a brand of cereal produced by the General Mills food company of Golden Valley, Minnesota, United States. It first appeared in stores in 1964. The cereal consists of two main components: toasted oat-based pieces and multi-colored marshmallow bits (marbits) in various shapes, the latter making up over 25 percent of the cereal's volume. The label features a leprechaun mascot, Lucky, animated in commercials.
Lucky Charms was created in 1962 by John Holahan. General Mills had challenged a team of new product developers to use the available manufacturing capacity from either of General Mills' two principal cereal products—Wheaties or Cheerios—and do something unique to them. Holahan came up with the idea after a visit to the grocery store in which he decided to mix Cheerios with bits of Brach's Circus Peanuts.
An advertising company employed by General Mills and Company suggested revolving the marketing of the new cereal around the idea of charm bracelets. Thus, the charms of Lucky Charms were born. The mascot, Lucky the Leprechaun (also known as Sir Charms, and originally called L.C. Leprechaun), was created in 1963, a cartoon character whose voice was supplied by Arthur Anderson until 1992. The oat cereal originally was not sugar coated. After initial sales failed to meet expectations, the oats became sugar coated, and the cereal's success grew. Following the product launch, the General Mills marketing department found that sales performed dramatically better if the composition of the marbits changed periodically. Various other features of the marbits were also modified to maximize their appeal to the cereal's target market, young consumers. In focus groups and market research, more brightly colored charms resulted in better sales than did dull or pastel colors. Holahan called Lucky Charms a "lesson in creative marketing." Currently, General Mills conducts frequent "concept-ideation" studies on Lucky Charms.
Lucky Charms was sold in the United Kingdom during the mid 1990s. Today, people from Britain can still get the cereal, either from TK Maxx, eBay, Amazon, Selfridges, or through specialist importers.
The first boxes of Lucky Charms cereal contained marshmallows in the shapes of pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, and green clovers. The lineup has changed occasionally over the years, beginning with the introduction of blue diamonds in 1975. Purple horseshoes joined the roster in 1984, followed by red balloons in 1989, rainbows in 1992, pots of gold in 1994, leprechaun hats in 1996 (temporarily replaced the green clovers), orange shooting stars in 1998 (added blue, green, yellow, purple, and red in 2011.), and an hourglass in 2008.
Older marshmallows were phased out periodically. The first shapes to be phased out were the yellow moons and blue diamonds, as General Mills introduced their "Pot of Gold" marshmallow, and the moon marshmallows became blue. In 2006, the assortment had changed to purple horseshoes; red balloons; blue half-moons; orange and white shooting stars; yellow and orange pots of gold; pink, yellow, and blue rainbows; two-tone green leprechaun hats; pink hearts (the only shape to survive since the beginning); with the most recent addition being the return of the clovers in 2004. The marshmallows also grew in size in 2004.
Limited Edition Marshmallows
In 1986, a whale-shaped marshmallow was temporarily added to the lineup.
In 1990, green pine tree-shaped marshmallows were temporarily added to the lineup.
In 1991, the star and balloon shape marshmallows were combined for a short time. The red balloon featured a gold six-pointed star; The star was removed at a later date to make the Red Balloon and Star marshmallows separate.
In 1994, sprinkles were temporarily added to the marshmallows.
In 1998, the moon shape marshmallows were modified with the addition of the yellow curve line for a limited time.
In 2000, a "New Sparkling Rainbow" was added to the mix for a limited time. It was described by General Mills as "a sprinkling of multicolored sugar on a white rainbow marbit." This marshmallow replaced the original rainbow at this time.
In the earliest commercials, Lucky Charms cereal had no theme song; the action was accompanied by a light instrumental "Irish" tune. Before long, however, a simple two-line tag was added:
- Frosted Lucky Charms,
- They're magically delicious!
This simple closer, with the kids usually singing the first line and Lucky singing the second, remained into the '80s. Then, with the addition of the purple horseshoe marbit, it was extended into a jingle that describes the contents of the box.
- They're Magically ... Delicious!
- They're Always After Me Lucky Charms!
- Pink Hearts, Yellow Moons, Orange Stars, Green Clovers, and new Blue Diamonds!
- Pink Hearts, Orange Stars, Yellow Moons, Green Clovers, Blue Diamonds, and Purple Horseshoes! And now with new Red Balloons.
- Hearts, Stars, and Horseshoes, Clovers, and Blue Moons, Pots of Gold, and Rainbows, and me Red Balloons!
- ^ "1960s". General Mills History Timeline. General Mills. p. 3. Archived from the original on 2007-10-23. http://web.archive.org/web/20071023113308/http://www.generalmills.com/corporate/company/GeneralMills_History_Timeline.pdf. Retrieved 2009-05-20.
- ^ a b c d e f Karen Wright (August 1999). "A Charm's Life - Lucky Charm's cereal (sic)". Discover Magazine. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1511/is_8_20/ai_55248808/pg_1. [dead link]
- ^ The miracle of orange Circus Peanuts[dead link] October 4, 2004
- ^ Buck Wolf (March 15, 2005). "Lucky Charms Leprechaun: 'I'm Not Irish'". http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/WolfFiles/story?id=622695. Retrieved 2007-06-21.
- ^ "Luck (03/14/07)". http://www.zeldawisdom.com/dearzelda/dearzelda_070314.shtml. Retrieved 2007-06-21.
- ^ "Topher's Breakfast Cereal Character Guide". http://www.lavasurfer.com/cereal-generalmills.html. Retrieved 2007-06-21.
- ^ Elliott, Stuart (2000-06-02). "Marketers bet on the concept of good luck as a selling tool". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2000/06/02/business/media-business-advertising-marketers-bet-concept-good-luck-selling-tool.html?sec=&spon=. Retrieved 2009-05-06.
- ^ "TV Acres ad slogans". http://www.tvacres.com/adslogans_l.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-21.
An Actor's Odyssey: Orson Welles to Lucky the Leprechaun, by Arthur Anderson. Albany, 2010. BearManor Media. ISBN 1-59393-522-6.
- General Mills corporate Lucky Charms site: includes package information and Nutrition Facts.
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