Malt-O-Meal Co. said Tuesday that it is changing its corporate name to MOM Brands to better reflect the company's surging cold cereal business and its growing brand portfolio.

The Minneapolis-based company was founded in 1919 as the Campbell Cereal Co., and has been named for its venerable Malt-O-Meal hot wheat cereal since 1953. But the days when hot Malt-O-Meal was its prime product are long gone.

The privately held firm has steadily built a ready-to-eat cereal business, and now has a significant presence in the cold cereal aisles at Wal-Mart and other big supermarkets. "We are in most of the largest chains," Chief Executive Chris Neugent said.

The new corporate name fits the wide range of products the company now offers, he said. "It's a better reflection of our brands."

MOM Brands produces 10 brands of cereal. Under its core Malt-O-Meal brand, the company makes such cereals as Apple Zings, Mini Spooners, Coco Roos and Cinnamon Toasters -- products with similarities to brands produced by Kellogg and General Mills.

More than three-quarters of Malt-O-Meal's sales stem from traditional cold cereals, Neugent said.

Malt-O-Meal brands also include Mom's Best Naturals and Better Oats, the latter being an oatmeal line. Despite the corporate name change, individual product brands, including those under the Malt-O-Meal banner, will remain the same.

Malt-O-Meal first launched a cold cereal in 1965, but the business didn't really start to grow until the 1980s. Over the past decade or so, as its cereal sales soared, Malt-O-Meal built two new plants and bought another one to complement production at its longtime plant in Northfield.

Citing Nielsen Co. data, MOM Brands says it ranks third in the U.S. ready-to-eat cereal business, as measured in sales by pound, displacing Post from that slot last year. Michigan-based Kellogg and Golden Valley-based General Mills are by far the cereal category's leaders.

"Being No. 3 is an important milestone," Neugent said.

Mike Hughlett • 612-673-7003