Inside The Making Of Tiny Toast, General Mills’ First New Cereal In 15 Years (1)
General Mills announced the launch of Tiny Toast on Monday, the first new cereal for the food giant in over 15 years.
The cereal, which comes in blueberry and strawberry flavors, is the first to follow 2001’s Harmony brand, a low-fat nutritional cereal targeted at women. Harmony was eventually discontinued, making Basic 4 (which premiered in 1991) the last all-new cereal to remain a part of General Mills’ portfolio.
(The Golden Valley-based food company has launched dozens of new cereals in the last 25 years, though most were made spinoffs of existing brands or licensing agreements, such as Reese’s Puffs.)
The announcement of Tiny Toast, according to General Mills, follows a more than yearlong research and development effort. Initially, the company’s Cereal Innovation team wanted to create a layered cereal, or cereal pieces that sandwiched either a cherry filling or spread.
However, the cereal pieces turned out too dense and the team struggled to keep the price per box down to a reasonable level.
This ultimately led to Tiny Toast, which covers the entire surface of each cereal piece with powders made from real blueberries and strawberries. Tiny Toast is also the latest in General Mills’ shift toward the removal of all artificial flavors, colors and sources from its cereals.
“People told us that both varieties tasted real, and not fake like they typically associate with fruit-flavored cereals,” said Mike Evenson, product developer at General Mills’ innovation, technology and quality division. “We heard from several consumers that the Blueberry Tiny Toast tastes like a blueberry muffin, which is just awesome praise.”
With the cereal created, the company next began to define the target market of Tiny Toast. General Mills’ senior marketing manager Alan Cunningham explained how customer feedback steered the company away from utilizing a cartoon character to sell the cereal, as it does with Cheerios, Trix and many others.
“We do love cartoons and mascots and use them when it makes sense for the brand,” he said, “but Tiny Toast is a cereal for young adults, and the marketing initiatives and packaging surrounding the launch were created with them in mind.”
Cunningham added that during the testing process, many of the young adults voiced disinterest in a cereal featuring a cartoon character, saying it “wasn’t for them.”
This ultimately shaped the box design, along with the company’s choice to emphasize the cereal’s real fruit flavor and natural ingredients.
Tiny Toast will hit store shelves this month.