The Wheaties brand is General Mills' oldest ready-to-eat cereal, introduced in 1924 by General Mills predecessor Washburn Crosby, and it benefited from years of significant advertising and associations with sports stars. In 1939 the cereal sponsored the first televised baseball game "to the estimated 500 owners of television sets in New York City," according a General Mills website.
But in the days before Super Bowl XXX, the Chicago Tribune reported that General Mills had developed "second thoughts" about airing this Wheaties ad in the big game, despite some fitting stars in NFL players Steve Young and Deion Sanders.
Super Bowl commercials averaged $1.1 million for 30 seconds that year, though the Tribune couldn't say whether it was the cost or something else troubling General Mills. The marketer had never bought an ad in the Super Bowl before. Nor were its rivals frequent Super Bowl marketers themselves, then or later, with Kellogg’s "Taste Corn Flakes" in 1992 an exception rather than the rule.
The General Mills ad ran in the game after all, plugging two new line extensions, Honey Frosted Wheaties and Crispy Wheaties 'n Raisin.
Kellogg’s would be back on the big-game ad roster in 2009 with “The Right Field” for Frosted Flakes. General Mills didn’t return until its instant classic “Gracie” for Cheerios in 2014, by which point Super Bowl ads had nearly quadrupled in price to an average of $4.2 million.
Honey Frosted Wheaties and Crispy Wheaties 'n Raisin were discontinued in 2001.
Sanders appeared in a second Super Bowl commercial in 1996, squaring off against Wile E. Coyote for Pepsi.