It used to be kids poured sugar on cereal themselves. Then came presweetened cereals. Now comes desweetened cereal.

General Mills, the company behind such sugary delights as Cookie Crisp and Reese's Puffs cereal, says it will cut back on sugar in some of its cereals in a step-by-step desweetening that has no clear-cut timeline.

It's the third time in as many years that General Mills has pledged to lower the amount of sugar in its cereals.

This time, the Golden Valley-based maker of Progresso Soups, Nature Valley granola bars and Cheerios says all 10 of its cereals marketed to children younger than 12 will eventually have less than 10 grams of sugar per serving.

"We've listened to our consumers, and some would prefer to see even lower levels of sugar, especially in children's cereals," said Kirstie Foster, a company spokeswoman.

The company said in 2007 that it would cut sugar in children's cereals to 12 grams or less, a goal that was met last year. Then the new goal became 11 grams. That goal will be met by the end of this month, said Foster.

So what are the cereals included in Wednesday's announcement? Not Boo Berry or Franken Berry, which have 12 grams of sugar per serving but don't get advertised anywhere. Nor, for the same reason, does it cover Chocolate Lucky Charms, which is 43 percent sugar by weight, down from 50 percent two years ago.

The cereals included in the announcement are Cocoa Puffs (11 grams of sugar), Cocoa Puffs Combos (11g), Cinnamon Toast Crunch (10g), Cookie Crisp (10g), Cookie Crisp Sprinkles (10g), Frosted Cheerios (10g), Honey Nut Cheerios (9g), Lucky Charms (11g), Reese's Puffs (11g) and Trix (11g).

No artificial sweeteners

The changes will cut sugar in some cereals by 10 percent and in others by as much as 30 percent. The company didn't elaborate on how it would cut sugar out without changing taste, other than to say they would not use artificial sweeteners.

An industry watchdog praised General Mills for the move.

"As sugary cereal is one of the top products marketed to children, we hope the company swiftly implements these changes and that Kellogg, Post Foods and other competitors quickly follow General Mills' lead," read a statement from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., that over the years has fought for less sugar in children's cereals.

General Mills two years ago pledged to reign in advertising of sugary cereals to children. Among other things, General Mills said back then that it would stop advertising foods that have 13 or more grams of sugar per serving to children younger than 12.

Matt McKinney • 612-217-1747