— -- The cereal made of O's is celebrating its 75th year of greeting fans, young and old, at the breakfast table every morning.
The original Cheerios brand was the first ready-to-eat oat cereal, "which means that it wasn't freshly baked," said Dana McNabb, vice president of marketing for Cheerios. "The oats were cooked and then it was puffed and it could stay in your shelf, stable, for a little bit longer than foods had been able to prior to that."
The brand has been made in America since 1941. Honey Nut Cheerios came a bit later. As the brands grew, cereal maker General Mills expanded the states it sourced from. These days, the honey comes from honey bees in Florida and the oats come from across North America and the Dakotas, Wisconsin and Iowa to name a few states.
The oats are cleaned and turned into oat flour in Minneapolis, Minnesota, before they are shipped to Cheerios factories in Iowa, Georgia and Buffalo, New York. In Buffalo, the General Mills factory and its 400 workers churn out 62 million boxes of original Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios every year.
"This is one of the best brands in America," McNabb said. "We've been part of families for years. ... It's a product that has been used by babies, toddlers ... as their first finger food and then you eat through the rest of your life."
At the factory in Buffalo, Shelli Cicero said she'd worked the Cheerios line for 25 years.
"Everything that we use, ingredients even, is all American, made in America, and it makes me very proud," Cicero said.
Plant manager Allen Brown said he still remembered his first day walking into the factory nine years ago.
"Growing up as a kid and eating Cheerios almost on a daily basis, actually getting to see it made was awesome," Brown said.
From the Buffalo factory, it usually takes about four to five days for those boxes to reach the cereal aisle and then to those breakfast bowls.
"I don't think there's a better breakfast," McNabb said. "It's a proudly American product."