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General Mills: Overview

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Overview

Aerial view of General Mills flour mills, St. Anthony Falls, Minneapolis, 1945

Minneapolis based General Mills, one of the world's largest food companies, traces its beginnings to Cadwallader C.Washburn who, in 1865, formed the Minneapolis Milling Company in order to lease power rights to mill operators. Ten years later, Washburn built his first flour mill near the falls of St. Anthony.

In 1874, the Washburn 'A' Mill was completed, only to be destroyed four years later by a flour dust explosion. Undeterred, Washburn rebuilt and, with new partner John Crosby, won medals in the first Millers' International Exhibition. The company's highest quality flour has been marketed under the Gold Medal label ever since.

In 1928, Washburn-Crosby president James Ford Bell consolidated with other mills, and General Mills was born. During this period, General Mills' iconic trademark, fictitious homemaker Betty Crocker, was created, and the company pioneered packaged food products such as Wheaties, Bisquick, and Cheerios.

Charles H. Bell moved the corporate headquarters to Golden Valley in 1952, and the company diversified into the toy and fashion industry. General Mills acquired hometown rival, Pillsbury, from British food company Diageo in 2000. The company has been known for its civic involvement through its General Mills Foundation, charitable contributions, and employee volunteerism.

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Guide Author

Linda Mork

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