Gold Medal Flour is a well known ingredient in the kitchens of amateur and professional bakers nationally. In 1856, Cadwaller C. Washburn acquired the Minneapolis Mill Company. He was criticized for opening a mill so large when demands were not thought to match the supply.
The quick success of this mill allowed him to open a second, larger “A” mill in 1874. Partnering with his brother and John Crosby, the Washburn-Crosby Co. was created in 1877. One year later an explosion destroyed mill A prompting the purchase of new, safer machinery. This machinery made the Washburn mill the world’s first automated mill creating 5,500 barrels of flour per day.
Going up against flour mills all over the world, the Washburn-Crosby Co. flour won the gold, silver and bronze medals in the first International Millers Exposition. Following this huge success, the company labeled their flour “the best in the world,” leading to the creation of the Gold Medal Flour name. In 1928, James Ford Bell, president of Washburn Crosby Co. merged their mills with 26 others, creating General Mills.
In 1929, General Mills created the box-tops coupon program which gave consumers discounts on products listed in the Betty Crocker catalog. The coupon program ran successfully until 2006 when it was discontinued. General Mills created the Box Tops for Education program in 1996, following the same idea as the original coupon programs. However, this program allowed students to trim tops off of cereal boxes to turn into school, where the school could redeem them for cash to use on school necessities. This program was created in 1996 and still runs today.
General Mills started acquiring a variety of business in 1965 when they entered the toy business and bought Rainbow Crafts (manufactured Play-Doh). Following this acquisition, General Mills also purchased Red Lobster and created The Olive Garden, both successful restaurant chains. General Mills ranked #151 on the Fortune 500 list of America’s largest corporations.
Headquarters: Golden Valley, Minnesota
Industry: Food Processing
Revenue: $14.88 Billion (US)