-In 1928 James Ford Bell orchestrated a giant merger of the nation’s largest regional milling companies; the company came to be known as General Mills and it was the largest flour Milling Company in the world. Throughout the years, General Mills has grown into much more than just a milling company. -In the mid 60’s, they closed over half their mills and began marketing to consumers. Over the years they developed or purchased a diverse line of products that included kitchen appliances and cookbooks as well as the typical consumer products that we associate with General Mills today.
Few people know, however, that the company that brings us such great cereals, snacks, ice creams, and granola bars was once the largest toy company in the world. -In 1965 General Mills Purchased Rainbow Crafts (the makers of Play-Doh). A few years later they purchased Parker Brothers, then Kennard, and within only a few years they were the largest toy producer in the world. -They made games, Frisbees, and Star Wars action figures along with their many other diverse lines of toy products.
In addition to toys, General Mills also sought to expand into the restaurant market. – They bought Red Lobster and LeAnne Chin’s and developed the Olive Garden. -They successfully expanded into new markets but must have become too diversified because in the late 1980’s they began spinning off companies and began to focus exclusively on consumer oriented food products; in 2001 they made headlines across the world as they merged with Pillsbury and today they are once again among the largest consumer food producers in the world.