The iconic orange box of Wheaties, long marketed as the "Breakfast of Champions," has had a storied history of featuring star athletes on its box front. It has in many ways been a rite of passage, a sign of having truly made it as a champion athlete... and a part of pop culture.
Track star Edwin Moses, swimmer Janet Evans and diver Greg Louganis are the newest additions to Wheaties boxes. General Mills, the cereal maker, unveiled the new boxes, calling it their legends series, April 5, 2016.
Here are some interesting facts you may not know.
Four-time Olympic gold medalist Louganis, 56, was the recipient of a change.org petition started by Julie Sondgerath that garnered over 40,000 signatures, asking that the diving superstar be belatedly recognized with a coveted spot on the cereal box. Sondgerath was inspired by a 2015 HBO documentary, "Back on Board: Greg Louganis."
The New York Times reported that Louganis has said that homophobia was a likely reason that recognition came so late -- he won his medals in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics. Louganis tested HIV positive before the 1988 Olympics, but kept the news hidden. Though there were rumors at the time, he did not come out until much later. The first time he spoke publicly about being gay and HIV positive was in a 1995 appearance on "Oprah."
"It's so iconic, everybody looks at the Wheaties box and it's such an honor," Louganis told General Mills. "I can't wait to see Janet's and Edwin's boxes too. I'm excited for them as much as myself. What great company to be in. Edwin's always been a hero to me. It's such an honor to be in this group."
Louganis is now an LBGT rights advocate.
Hurdler Edwin Moses is a two-time Olympic gold medalist, competing in the 1976 and 1984 games. He set a world record for the 400m hurdles in 1976 and holds the world record for a decade-long streak of 122 victories.
In an audio clip on the General Mills blog, Moses said, "Several icons in track and field, and people that I know, have been on the box -- starting with Bruce Jenner in 1976 -- so it's quite an honor to be included among that subset of athletes." He added, "It'll be a shock to actually go into a store and see it there."
Janet Evans is a four-time Olympic gold medalist who broke seven world records. She competed in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics and is considered the greatest female distance swimmer.
"I think many people hope and expect to see their favorite athlete on a Wheaties box," Evans said in a General Mills press release, "It's a wonderful reward for all our hard work."
Wheaties began to be a household name in the 1930s. What contributed to that success was its inroads with the world of baseball. New Yankee great Lou Gehrig was one of the players who provided testimonials for the cereal. According to General Mills, 46 of 51 players selected for the 1939 Major League All-Star Game endorsed Wheaties.
Though 1934 was when Gehrig made an appearance on the cereal box -- the first time for an athlete -- he and others were only seen on the back or side panels.
It is important to note that Pilot Elinor Smith was the first woman to be on the box in 1934, the same year as Lou Gehrig, but also not on the front of the box, but the back panel.
Beating out Amelia Earhart in 1930 in a poll for "Best Woman Pilot in America," Smith earned the Wheaties box by setting a solo endurance record, a world's atitude record and woman's world speed record.
Nicknamed "The Flying Flappers, Smith also amazingly flew her plane underneath New York City's Manhattan Bridge and three others along the East River in 1928.
Future President of the U.S. Ronald Reagan had a helping hand from Wheaties for his start in Hollywood.
Reagan was the chief sports announcer for radio station WHO in Des Moines, Iowa doing play-by-play in 1937 when he was voted the most popular Wheaties announcer in a national poll. It won him an all-expense paid trip to the Chicago Cubs spring training camp in California.
On the backside of that trip, the young Reagan used the opportunity to wrangle a Warner Brothers screen test. The rest, as they say, is history.
The first champion to grace the front of a Wheaties box was two-time gold medalist pole vaulter and decathlete Bob Richards in 1958. He participated in the Olympics in 1948, 1952 and 1956.
He appeared on cereal boxes from 1958 until 1970.
Up next, was decathlete Bruce Jenner, now known as Caitlyn Jenner, after winning a gold medal in the decathlon at the 1976 Olympics to become the "world's greatest athlete."
Jenner's performance in the Olympics made him a national hero.
Olympic decathlon champion Bruce Jenner promotes the Wheaties "Breakfast of Champions" program, during a press conference following his signing a spokesperson agreement with General Mills and Wheaties in April 1977.
Mary Lou Retton
It took 26 years before a female athlete got on the front of her own box of Wheaties. In 1984, pint-sized, spunky gymnast Mary Lou Retton won American hearts and an appearance on the orange box, along with scoring an individual all-around gymnastics Olympic gold medal in Los Angeles.
It is important to note that Pilot Elinor Smith was the first woman to be on the box in 1934, the same year as Lou Gehrig, it was not on the box front.
Tennis champion Chris Evert, who went by Evert Lloyd at the time, was just the second female athlete to break the orange barrier in 1987.
Evert did so with a long list of career achievements that included 18 Grand Slam singles titles.
Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton, known around the NFL as "Sweetness," was the first football player to be seen on a Wheaties box in 1986. He earned that honor by helping his team win the Super Bowl in 1985 and rushing years for 1,551 years that season.
He made it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993 and if often described as one of the greatest running backs in NFL history.
It took boxing legend Muhammad Ali until 1999 to get the coveted orange framework -- more than three decades since his boxing prime. That's quite a wait for an athlete who won the world heavyweight championship title three times, in 1964, 1974 and 1975.
Ali's wife, Lonnie, pointed out to the New York Times that "at the height of his career in the 1960s he might have been a little too controversial," referring to him changing his name from Cassius Clay and joining the Nation of Islam. There was also the issue of Ali refusing to be drafted into the U.S. Army to fight in Vietnam because of his religious beliefs. A Wheaties spokesman offered the New York Times an alternate theory, which was that the company may not have felt a boxer would be a popular choice way back when.
Ali's box was unveiled at New York City's Madison Square Garden, becoming the first boxer to be featured on a Wheaties box. The honor coincided with the 75th anniversary of the cereal.
Basketball superstar Michael Jordan has had a super number of cereal box appearances as part of incredible list of accomplishments. He has been seen on the orange box a grand total of 18 times -- more than anyone else can boast.
That accomplishment probably ranks somewhat below his six championship rings, five season MVP awards and six Finals MVP selections, but it is till pretty cool.
Home run king and first African-American in Major League Baseball Hank Aaron made it onto a Wheaties box in 2002, commemorating Aaron's career home run total.
It took Aaron less time to get into the Baseball Hall of Fame, which he did in 1982.
In 2003, a non-athlete, Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, was featured on the front of a Wheaties cereal box, joining the elite legions of sports heroes.
For good reason. Paterno was honored as the all-time leader in career wins by a major college football coach, earning himself a special edition box distributed in Pennsylvania and surrounding states.
The Minnesota Twins was the first team to earn a spot on a Wheaties box in 1987.
The familiar orange box honored the team for its World Series win, its first since moving from Washington, D.C, in 1961 and only the second championship for the franchise. The team formerly known as the Washington Senators had last won a World Series in 1924.
Small footnote: General Mills is based in Minnesota so there may have been an ulterior motive in this particular selection.
Green Bay Packers
Every so often special editions have been issued regionally for sports fans.
The Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers featured in one of those. The 24-ounce package was sold in Wisconsin and parts of Minnesota.
Cereal maker General Mills marked Wheaties 75th anniversary with a cereal box that reads like the Who's Who of sports in February 1999 with 75 athletes making an appearance.
General Mills gave the public the chance to vote for their favorite top 10 athletes for the company to reissue the original boxes of the winners of the poll.
The winners were Michael Jordan, Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Mary Lou Retton, Tiger Woods, Cal Ripken, Jr., Walter Payton, Johnn Elway, Jackie Robinson, and the 1980 U.S. Men's Olympic Hockey Team.
Late race car driver Dale Earnhardt appeared on a commemorative Wheaties box in honor of his induction into NASCAR's new Hall of Fame in 2010. The design which showed Earnhardt with his famous No. 3 Chevrolet was the first time a race car driver made it onto to the box.
Earnhardt's children Taylor Earnhardt, right, and Kerry Earnhardt, second from right, are seen with a mock up of the Dale Earnhardt Wheaties cereal box with Richard Childress, second from left, and Clint Bowyer, left, during a news conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, May 21, 2010.
Nine-year-old Sam Gordon was given a "custom-made" Wheaties box after becoming a YouTube/Internet sensation in 2012. Utah-native, Gordon, who scored 25 touchdowns and 10 extra points in 11 games, had her dazzling speed and overall athletic prowess against boys immortalized with a video her dad (who else?) uploaded to YouTube.
The Ellen Show called. And so did the media, including the NFL Network. Wheaties jumped on the bandwagon, recognizing Gordon for her determination and fearlessness.
The Breakfast of Champions has had a little competition in recent years from Kellog's Corn Flakes.
London 2012 Olympic Gymnastics all-around gold medalist Gabby Douglas received her very own special edition box of Kellogg's Corn Flakes.