I flew to Minneapolis to join a group of some of my best blogging buddies for a trip to General Mills headquarters. I’ve been communicating back and forth with Erin from the company’s public relations and marketing team for more than a year now and she honestly feels like a friend, so it was so great to be able to meet her in person as well!
General Mills asked our group to their headquarters to learn more about the company, but also (and, in my opinion, most importantly) to provide feedback about changes we’d love to see from them moving forward. (More on this below!)
Our trip began with a trip to the Mill City Museum, the museum that now exists within the ruins of what was once the world’s largest flour mill. We were ushered upstairs into a meeting room where lots of yummy snacks and personalized Cheerios boxes awaited us!
I loved the mix of sweet and savory snacks. None of us could stop eating the chocolate caramel Chex mix and I couldn’t resist filling my snack plate with some of the salty olives and nuts as well.
We spent the next few hours at the Mill City Museum learning about the way Cheerios are made and all that goes into the grain selection process before it was time for a museum tour.
The top floor of the museum overlooks the Mississippi River and offers great views, so we made sure to snap a group photo!
Dinner at Travail
A little after 5 p.m., we headed back to our hotel for a quick one-hour break before dinner. A few of us decided to take advantage of the AWESOME skyway that meanders around Minneapolis and allows you to walk from place to place without stepping outside into the bitter cold. Genius! Gina, Amanda, Monica, Janae and I walked to Gap and Target to pick up a few things before heading back to our respective rooms at our hotel for a hot second before we had to meet back in the lobby for dinner.
The restaurant is quirky and trendy, yet comfortable, playful and oh soooo delicious!
Names of people who donated to the restaurant’s Kickstarter campaign adorn the walls and there was plenty to look at as we all took advantage of some of the specialty drinks available to us at the bar.
Give me all the grapefruit, pleeeease.
Once we all had a chance to order drinks, passed appetizers found their way over to our group, including a fried chicken bite topped with the restaurant owner’s grandmother’s special white gravy recipe.
Before long, it was time to take our seats and our group enjoyed a tasting menu that blew all of us away!
There wasn’t one course I didn’t love, but the mini lobster roll stole this seafood lover’s heart. Unreal!
Dessert was a little more interactive, as we were all able to help create homemade Dippin’ Dots inspired by Lucky Charms, Cocoa Puffs and Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
The flavors were spot on and though we clearly need to work on perfecting the circular shape of our Dippin’ Dots, the dessert was still a big hit with our group!
My second day in Minneapolis began bright and early. Our group met in the hotel lobby at 7:30 a.m. and I opted out of a hotel workout in favor of ordering room service. Great decision!
I had no trouble finishing the veggie and cheese frittata I ordered and polished off an English muffin with a bit of butter and strawberry jelly before meeting my blogging buddies downstairs and heading out to General Mills’ headquarters.
Upon our arrival, we were immediately greeted by the (permanently) friendly faces of Lucky from the Lucky Charms box and the bee from the Honey Nut Cheerios box!
I didn’t mean to show up dressed like Lucky, but green blazers are where’s it’s at, baby!
Our day at the headquarters began with a tour where we were able to see the employee gym that everyone has access to for free (even after they retire!), the on-site health clinic, infant care center, plethora of nursing rooms for new moms (so wonderful) and more.
Then it was time for a late morning breakfast break. (Breakfast number two? Don’t mind if I do!) After a quick bite, we were off to the Betty Crocker kitchen where we were each told to create a new breakfast recipe in the kitchen using cereal and any of the ingredients on hand. The kitchen was huge and gorgeous and the ingredients available to us were plentiful and very fresh. It was a dream!
I initially planned to make a yogurt pie with a Honey Nut Chex granola crust (made with dates, seeds, nuts and maple syrup), but ran out of time to create the thick, creamy Greek yogurt filling I wanted to and ended up slicing fresh berries and using them as my pie filling.
Once we were all done creating our respective recipes, it was time for some taste testing. I loved trying everyone’s recipes but I think most of us agreed the silver dollar pancakes Monica made took top prize!
Lunch followed our recipe development activity and even though I’m pretty sure most of us did our fair share of snacking as we played around in the Betty Crocker kitchen, we still filled our plates with lots of food. General Mills did such a great job providing a healthy lunch for us that included baby kale salad, delicious sandwiches, fresh fruit, chia pudding, roasted veggies, the most fabulous mushroom risotto, quinoa salad and more.
While we ate, it was time for an in-depth discussion. Without a doubt, my favorite part of our time at the General Mills headquarters was the 90 minutes or so we spent with company leadership where we were able to share our concerns surrounding food issues relating to GMOs, artificial preservatives, food coloring and more. Though I signed an NDA preventing me from sharing too much more, I hope to see some of the big changes they have in mind for the future come to fruition in the near future. It was a passionate conversation, that’s for sure!
During our time at the headquarters we also listened in on a presentation about the typical American diet that I found particularly interesting. Here are a few snapshots of the facts that caught my eye:
I think it’s interesting that Americans tend to focus more on the nutrition of their meals much more so than their afternoon/evening snacks. Snacking seems to be a time for reward/indulgence rather than another opportunity to get nutritious foods into our bodies. For me personally, I definitely find that I’m much more likely to grab something fast and less healthy during snack time than during breakfast, lunch or dinner, so I think this particular diagram fits me rather well.
Our final activity of the day took us to the General Mills photo studio and prop room where we were able to chat with food stylists and photographers for about an hour or so until we all had to head out to catch our evening flights home.
And there you have it — Less than 48 hours in Minnesota! I had a blast!
Questions of the Afternoon
- Do you identify at all with the above chart regarding meals/snacks? Which meal is it easiest for you to grab something nutritious during the day? Do you gravitate toward more or less healthy foods during certain snack or meal times?