General Mills is looking to harness the power of pumpkin spice by making it the newest flavor of Cheerios, scheduled to hit shelves this month.
Boxes of Pumpkin Spice Cheerios started shipping to retailers this week and should be available just ahead of Labor Day weekend, the company said Thursday. The Golden Valley-based food giant, well aware of the cult-like following the pumpkin spice flavor has, is hoping the flavor obsession will help boost autumn cereal sales.
“We are always looking to remain relevant with our consumers,” said Susanne Prucha, marketing director for Cheerios. “When we started talking about a fall flavor, there was no doubt consumers love pumpkin-flavored things across all categories.”
The flavor’s popularity began in 2003 when Starbucks introduced the pumpkin spice latte. Hundreds of food and beverage products across all categories have been released as a result of this flavor phenomenon and cereal makers are joining the fray.
Kellogg’s is jumping aboard the pumpkin-spice bandwagon, announcing this week the release of Special K Pumpkin Spice Crunch.
General Mills has released more than two dozen Cheerios variations — called flankers — since 1979. About half were discontinued while others had staying power. Honey Nut Cheerios, now the nation’s bestselling ready-to-eat cereal, was originally released as a flanker experiment. There are currently 12 Cheerios flavors on store shelves.
Prucha points out the new Cheerios flavor is made using pumpkin purée.
“That was really important to us as we developed these limited-edition flavors. We know they expect real ingredients,” she said. “They are also gluten-free.”