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10 Facts About America's Most Popular Breakfast Cereals

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Cereal companies may be turning to healthier formulas and trendy ingredients these days, but in terms of overall sales, it’s the sweet, sweet legacy brands that continue to dominate. Here are a few notable facts about America’s most beloved cereal brands.

1. HONEY NUT CHEERIOS

Introduced in 1979, this Cheerios offshoot soared in popularity thanks in part to its cartoon bee mascot. But for more than two decades, he didn’t have a name. In 2000, General Mills launched a national naming contest, eventually landing on the name "BuzzBee" or "Buzz" for short [PDF].

2. FROSTED FLAKES

Frosted Flakes were introduced in 1952, and its popular mascot, Tony the Tiger, was voiced by Thurl Ravenscroft for more than 50 years. A Nebraska native who left for Hollywood as a teenager, Ravenscroft provided voiceovers for many Disneyland rides, including the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. He also sang, uncredited, "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" in the famed cartoon film, How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

3. HONEY BUNCHES OF OATS

Vernon J. Herzing, a manager at Post’s Battle Creek, Michigan cereal production facility, designed this kid and adult favorite using ingredients from the cereals already being manufactured at his facility—including Toasties, Sugar Sparkle Flakes, and Grape-Nuts Flakes. Working at home with his teenage daughter in the late 1980s, he finally hit on the winning combination of flakes, granola, and honey, which he originally called "Battle Creek Cereal."

4. CINNAMON TOAST CRUNCH

CTC, as it’s known by cereal aficionados, debuted in 1984 and gained widespread attention with three cartoon bakers that appeared in its ads, named Wendell, Bob, and Quello. In 1991, the company did away with Bob and Quello, leading to some wild speculation, though in truth, parent company General Mills pulled the two because they weren’t testing well with audiences. Wendell, the fan favorite, remained on CTC boxes until 2009, when the brand replaced him with the Crazy Squares.

5. CHEERIOS

Lester Borchardt, a physicist working for General Mills, spent many months and more than $150,000 trying to get a puffing machine to quickly turn out grain cereal. His bosses told him to pull the plug, but Borchardt pressed on, and finally got the machine to make tasty little "o"s. Cheerioats, as they were first known, hit shelves in 1941. After Quaker Oats claimed trademark infringement, General Mills changed the name to Cheerios.

6. FROOT LOOPS

Introduced in 1963, Froot Loops originally only came in three colors: red, orange, and yellow. The additions of green, purple, and blue didn't happen until the '90s, and sadly these various colors don’t indicate flavor variations: Kellogg recently admitted all Froot Loops are made from the same flavoring concoction, known as "Froot."

7. FROSTED MINI-WHEATS

When they were introduced in 1969, the original mini wheats were much larger than today’s version. In 1988, Kellogg came out with a bite-sized variety that was so popular, it became the de facto Frosted Mini-Wheats. Years later, Kellogg would introduce the original mini wheat size as "Big Bites."

8. LUCKY CHARMS

Charged with developing a one-of-a-kind cereal for General Mills, developer John Holahan came up with a prototype that combined Cheerios with circus peanuts. The circus peanuts became marshmallows—or "marbits"—and the cereal adopted a leprechaun mascot named Lucky, who has been the face of Lucky Charms for more than 50 years—with one exception. For a brief spell in 1975, Waldo the Wizard graced the boxes of Lucky Charms in the New England market.

9. RAISIN BRAN

This household favorite might have a different name but for a key legal ruling. In 1944, Skinner’s Raisin Bran, which came out 20 years earlier, sued Kellogg for trademark infringement. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, however, ruled that a company could not trademark a name that was essentially describing the product’s ingredients.

10. SPECIAL K

An ad from 1972. Jamie via Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

The brand that began in 1955 as a humble rice and wheat cereal has become a dieting empire. Special K’s hot streak started when it introduced the Special K Challenge, a weight loss program Kellogg initially developed as a way for Kellogg to save money over broadcast advertising.

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New AI-Driven Music System Analyzes Tracks for Perfect Playlists
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Whether you're planning a bachelorette party or recovering from a breakup, a well-curated playlist makes all the difference. If you don't have time to pick the perfect songs manually, services that use the AI-driven system Sonic Style may be able to figure out exactly what you have in mind based on your request.

According to Fast Company, Sonic Style is the new music-categorizing service from the media and entertainment data provider Gracenote. There are plenty of music algorithms out there already, but Sonic Style works a little differently. Rather than listing the entire discography of a certain artist under a single genre, the AI analyzes individual tracks. It considers factors like the artist's typical genre and the era the song was recorded in, as well as qualities it can only learn through listening, like tempo and mood. Based on nearly 450 descriptors, it creates a super-accurate "style profile" of the track that makes it easier for listeners to find it when searching for the perfect song to fit an occasion.

Playlists that use data from Sonic Style feel like they were made by a person with a deep knowledge of music rather than a machine. That's thanks to the system's advanced neural network. It also recognizes artists that don't fit neatly into one genre, or that have evolved into a completely different music style over their careers. Any service—including music-streaming platforms and voice-activated assistants—that uses Gracenote's data will be able to take advantage of the new technology.

With AI at your disposal, all you have to do as the listener is decide on a style of music. Here are some ideas to get you started if you want a playlist for productivity.

[h/t Fast Company]

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