|This article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2009)|
|Product type||Cereal with marshmallows|
|Tagline||"They're magically delicious."|
Lucky Charms is a cereal brand produced by the General Mills food company of Golden Valley, Minnesota, United States. It first appeared in stores in 1964. The cereal consists of two main components: toasted oat pieces and multi-colored marshmallow shapes, the latter making up over 25 percent of the cereal's volume. The label features a leprechaun mascot, Lucky, animated in commercials.
Lucky Charms were created in 1962 by John Holahan. General Mills management challenged a team of product developers to use the available manufacturing capacity from either of General Mills' two principal cereal products — Wheaties or Cheerios — and do something unique. Holahan came up with the idea after a visit to the grocery store in which he decided to mix Cheerios with bits of Brach's Circus Peanuts.
An advertising company employed by General Mills and Company suggested marketing the new cereal around the idea of charm bracelets. Thus, the charms of Lucky Charms were born. Lucky Charms is the first cereal to include marshmallows in the recipe. The mascot of Lucky Charms is Lucky the Leprechaun, also known as Sir Charms, and originally called L.C. Leprechaun. Created in 1963, the cartoon character's voice was supplied by Arthur Anderson until 1992. In 1975, Lucky the Leprechaun was briefly replaced by Waldo the Wizard.
The oat cereal was not originally sugar coated. After initial sales failed to meet expectations, the oats were sugar coated, and the cereal's success grew. Piggy banks and plastic watches were introduced as cereal box send-away prizes as a marketing tactic to increase sales. The recipe for the cereal remained unchanged until the introduction of a new flavor: Chocolate Lucky Charms, in 2005. Later in 2012, General Mills introduced "Lucky Charms Marshmallow Treats."
Following the product launch, the General Mills marketing department found that sales performed dramatically better if the composition of the marbits changed periodically. Various features of the marbits were modified to maximize their appeal to young consumers. Over the years, over 40 limited edition features such as Winter Lucky Charms, Olympic-themed Lucky Charms, Lucky Charms featuring marshmallow landmarks from around the world, were created to meet consumer demands. In focus groups and market research, more brightly colored charms resulted in better sales than did dull or pastel colors. Holahan called Lucky Charms a "lesson in creative marketing." Currently, General Mills conducts "concept-ideation" studies on Lucky Charms.
In October 2012, Lucky Charms posted its best fiscal volume ever. The company attributes this success to their change in the marketing target. The cereal moves from appealing to children, towards marketing to adults as well. Consumers are able to reminisce with a jingle that hadn't been used in more than a decade: "hearts, stars and clovers" - Lucky's Litany, in a national campaign. The company suggests that the jingle contributed to a rise in sales. An estimated 45 percent of Lucky Charm consumers are adults. In reaction to the campaign to target "nostalgia," commercials were created for the promotion.. A commercial called "Transportasty" shows a woman rediscovering Lucky Charms at her office. She is then transported to presumably Lucky's magical forest, where Lucky says, "You're always after me Lucky Charms." She responds to his famous line by saying, "I forgot how good these taste." The commercial met with positive feedback. Along with the commercial, a Facebook page was created to encourage loyal consumers to discuss and reminisce changes with Lucky Charms over the years. However, with this marketing campaign, the company is not moving away from kids. A commercial of kids sneaking into Lucky's magical vault of charms was broadcast. Later on, two more commercials for adults were made, another instant of a woman enjoy Lucky Charms and being transported to Lucky's forest, where Lucky appears saying his famous quote, as the woman remarks "They're magically delicious!" Then for the 50th anniversary of Lucky Charms, an animated commercial featuring a song about Lucky Charms was aired.
The first boxes of Lucky Charms cereal contained marshmallows in the shapes of pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, and green clovers. The lineup has changed occasionally, beginning with the introduction of blue diamonds in 1975. Purple horseshoes joined the roster in 1983, followed by red balloons in 1989, green trees 1991, rainbows in 1992, pots of gold in 1994, blue moons 1995, leprechaun hats in 1997 (temporarily replaced the green clovers), orange shooting stars and around the world charms in 1998 (added blue, green, yellow, purple, and red in 2011), a crystal ball in 2001, and an hourglass in 2008. In 2013, 6 new rainbow swirl moons and 2 new rainbow charms were introduced. From the original four marshmallows, the permanent roster as of 2013 includes eight marshmallows.
Older marshmallows were phased out periodically. The first shapes to disappear were the yellow moons and blue diamonds, replaced by yellow/orange pots of gold and blue moons respectively in 1994. In 2006, the assortment included purple horseshoes; red balloons; blue crescent-moons; orange and white shooting stars; yellow and orange pots of gold; pink, yellow, and blue rainbows; two-tone green leprechaun hats; pink hearts (the one shape to survive since the beginning); with the most recent addition being the return of the clovers in 2004. The size and brightness of the marshmallows changed in 2004.
Recent changes to the marshmallows include the star shape taking on a "shooting star" design, the orange five-pointed star being complemented by a white "trail." In late 2005, another marshmallow shape was added, the "Hidden Key". It is a solid yellow marshmallow that resembles an arched door (similar to the shape of a tombstone; flat at the bottom, flat sides with a round top). When liquid is added to the cereal, the sugar in the marshmallow dissolves and the shape of a skeleton key appears "as if by magic." The tagline was, "Unlock the door with milk!" This "new" marshmallow type has been used in other hot and cold cereals, but with mixed success (from characters "hidden" inside a bigger marshmallow to letters appearing). In early June 2006, General Mills introduced Magic Mirror marshmallows. In 2008, yellow and orange hourglass marshmallows were introduced ( with a contemporary name for Lucky, the Emerald Elder) with the marketing tagline of, "The Hourglass Charm has the power to Stop Time * Speed Up Time * Reverse Time". As of 2011, swirled marshmallows and rainbow-colored stars have been introduced.
The marshmallows are meant to represent Lucky's magical charms, each with their own special meaning or "power." The following are explanations of the permanent marshmallows:
There have been more than 40 featured limited edition marshmallow shapes over the years, with the introduction of themed Lucky Charms, such as Winter Lucky Charms. Some of these include:
In the earliest commercials, Lucky Charms cereal had no theme jingle; action was accompanied by a light instrumental "Irish" tune. Soon, however, a simple two-line tag was added:
This simple closer, with the kids usually singing the first line and Lucky singing the second, survived into the 1980s.
Then, with the addition of the purple horseshoe marbit, it was extended into a jingle describing the contents of the box. This was later revised with the addition of red balloons to the now-familiar "Hearts, stars and horse-shoes, clovers and blue-moons. Pots of gold and rainbows, and me red balloons!" In 2008, the pot of gold was replaced with the hourglass in the theme song.
The jingle is usually accompanied by mentioning that Lucky Charms contains whole grain ingredients, and is part of a balanced meal. General Mills' market position is centered on cereals that contain "more whole grain than any other single ingredient, which is significant, because 95 percent of Americans aren't eating minimally 48 grams of whole grain per day as recommended by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines."
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Lucky Charms contains:
Oats (Whole grain), Oats (flour), marshmallows (sugar, modified starch/modified corn starch, corn syrup, dextrose, gelatin, calcium carbonate, yellow 5 & yellow 6, blue 1, red 40), artificial flavor, sugar, corn syrup, corn starch, salt, calcium carbonate, food coloring/artificial color, trisodium phosphate, zinc, iron, vitamin C (sodium ascorbic), niacinamide (a B vitamin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B1 (thiamin monontrate), vitamin A (palmitate), folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin D, vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) 
Chocolate Lucky Charms:
Ingredients - Whole Grain Corn, Sugar, Marshmallows (sugar, modified corn starch, corn syrup, dextrose, gelatin, calcium carbonate, yellow 5&6, blue 1, red 40, artificial flavor), corn meal, canola and/or rice bran oil, cocoa processed with alkali, color added, salt, fructose, natural and artificial flavor, trisodium phosphate, BHT.
Vitamins and Minerals - calcium, carbonate, tricalcium phosphate, zinc and iron (mineral nutrients), vitamin C (sodium ascorbate), B vitamin (niacinamide), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B1 (thiamin mononitrate), vitamin A (palmitate), B vitamin (folic acid), vitamin B12, vitamin D.
Lucky Charms Treats:
(Contains MILK AND SOY ingredients)
Ingredients - cereal (whole grain oats, sugar, oat flour, corn syrup, corn starch, salt, trisodium phosphate, color added, natural and artificial flavor, mixed tocopherois), corn syrup, confectionery coating (sugar, palm kernel oil, maltodextrin, yogurt powder (cultured non-fat milk, whey protein concentrate, yogurt cultures), non-fat milk, soy lecithin, natural flavor), marshmallows (sugar, modified corn starch, corn syrup, dextrose, gelatin, calcium carbonate, colored with yellow 5&6, blue 1, red 40, artificial flavor), crisp rice (rice flour, barley malt extract, salt), canola oil, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, sugar. Contains 2% or less of: Glycerin, Maltodextrin, Sorbitol, Water, Gelatin, Salt, Artificial Flavor.
Vitamins and Minerals - calcium carbonate, zinc and iron (mineral nutrients), vitamin C (sodium ascorbate), B vitamin (niacinamide), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B1 (thiamin mononitrate), vitamin A (palmitate), B vitamin (folic acid), vitamin B12, vitamin D3.
An Actor's Odyssey: Orson Welles to Lucky the Leprechaun, by Arthur Anderson. Albany, 2010. BearManor Media. ISBN 1-59393-522-6.