I started my blog back in July of 2008 and began participating in product review tours and giveaways in January of 2009. The 2009 General Mills Eat & Greet was my very first “out-of-state” blogging event and boy was I excited to receive the invite! Before the trip, when I thought of General Mills, I thought of Cheerios, Chex, and Wheaties – you know, the cereals we grew up with as kids. I didn’t know they were also Betty Crocker, Yoplait, Pillsbury, Fiber One, Total, Progresso, Nature Valley, Cascadian Farm Organic, and Muir Glen Organic. I couldn’t wait to see what General Mills had in store for us!
I was so anxious to see my blogging friends and tour the General Mills Headquarters. Plus I had never been to Minnesota before, so I was very excited to add this to the list of states I’ve visited. My only regret is that it wasn’t a little longer!
My hubby took 2 days off work to watch our kids so I could attend the event solo, leaving behind my nursing 1 year old (with breast pump in tow). The taxi driver picked me up at 6:45 a.m. and we headed to the airport. I was a little nervous to leave my family behind, but was excited for the adventure ahead of me. My flight was smooth and enjoyable – I was able to work on my word searches and read without any interruptions or chasing kids down the aisle.
I arrived in Minneapolis at about 2:00 p.m. and met up at the airport with 2 other bloggers and were driven in a nice town car to the Sheraton West Hotel. Boy, was the hotel nice inside! I checked in and headed over to registration. There I met up with my blogging friend Caryn, meeting in person for the very first time! I registered and was given a bag of goodies.
After everyone checked in, snacked a little, and freshened up, we headed over to the Mill City Museum, which at one time was a functioning flour mill. I loved walking through the Museum and seeing all of the historical labels and products….and boy was I getting hungry! My favorite part of the Museum was the Flour Tower, an interactive tour of the history of the mill.
Here is a short clip of our guide blowing up some flour (and she has lots of fun doing it too)!
After the tour, we headed down for some dinner….and we were ready to eat. There was steak, chicken, green beans, salad, and some really yummy chocolate dessert items. It was neat because throughout the dinner, each of the blogger attendees’ headers from their blogs flashed on the screen in the front of the room. It was nice to have that moment of fame.
The next morning, at about 7:00 a.m. (that’s 5:00 a.m. my time), we checked out and headed out to General Mills Headquarters for some breakfast and the tour. I think many of the bloggers were expecting cereal and pancakes, but to our surprise, there were mini muffins and quiche – very different than what we expected, but I was happy to have the chocolate mini muffins for breakfast. It was probably a good thing I didn’t eat too much for breakfast because we had plenty to eat in the hours to come!!
.At the entrance, we were greeted by the Pillsbury Dough Boy. I honestly thought it was a permanent fixture and jokingly said, “Watch your hands Dough Boy (laughing out loud)!” I then freaked out when I saw the Dough Boy walking away. Oh man, there was a real person in there. Oops (blushing)!
In the hallways of the building were displays dedicated to Betty Crocker, Cheerios, Wheaties, Green Giant, and more! P.S. I didn’t know they’ve had 8 different faces on the Betty Crocker box over the years!
After breakfast, we met in the Auditorium and had the opportunity to hear from some of the key General Mills people.
Then we proceeded to the Betty Crocker Kitchens. I was so excited to see what they had in store for us!! As we walked up to the glass windows looking into the Betty Crocker Kitchens, we were greeted with hand waves by 2 of General Mills famous mascots – hint: Trix and Lucky Charms.
There were so many displays with different foods, I felt like I was in heaven! I had the opportunity to sample Honey Nut Chex. Wow! I wished I could have taken some with me to the airport. It was so good! Plus, many of their cereals are now Gluten Free!
I also had the opportunity to visit with the representatives for Box Tops. I will definitely be checking all of my packages this year and cutting out Box Tops to help my school earn money for educational materials. What a great concept! Did you know that last year, General Mills donated $50 million to schools nationwide. That is admirable!
After talking to the Box Tops representatives, I headed over to the Organic products, including Cascadian Farm Organic and Muir Glen Organic. There we had the opportunity to sample some delicious Bruschetta. I had a few of these and would have kept eating if there wasn’t so much more to see. I will definitely be making these recipes this holiday season! I’ll share these with you all later on!
After the Bruschetta, I had to clean my pallette with some cookies – of course! Pillsbury has a new cookie they have introduced that comes in a white package and is called Pillsbury Simply. They have both Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip. They’ll also be coming out with some new flavors in the near future, but wouldn’t reveal it to us. I hope it’s something with chocolate! Hint hint Pillsbury!
I also really loved the Yoplait Delights Parfait. I was just talking to another blogger earlier about how I wished there was Chocolate Yogurt. Lo and behold, our thoughts were answered. We tried the Chocolate and Raspberry Yoplait Delights Parfait. I also really enjoyed the Lemon Torte Yoplait Delights Parfait. Plus, they gave us a coupon good for one 4 pack when we returned home. And yes, I’ve already used it. I just had to show my husband how good they were!
After filling ourselves up with yummy food, we had to work off some of those calories with a tour of the Photography Studios. They showed us how they adjusted the light and placed the food to get it photographed just right for packages and cookbooks. They have tons of dishes that they use for the photos.
I loved the tool kit they have it. Who would have thought there would be a toolbox for tools used to prepare food for photo sessions? It was neat to see that the same people both prepared and photographed the food. However, I was disappointed to learn that they have to throw the food away after photographing it. I can’t imagine throwing away yummy Walnut Brownies. What a bummer!
I also had the opportunity to meet “Hungry Girl” at the event. She is famous among food bloggers in the Blogosphere. I’ve seen her taste testing yogurts and other foods, plus I learned she even has a cookbook!
Overall, this was an awesome experience! I would definitely love to attend blogging events in the future and learn more about other companies and their products. A special thanks to General Mills for hosting this awesome event and our accommodations. I also want to send a special shout out to Allison, Jessica, and Laurie! You girls are awesome and you made this an experience I’ll never forget! Also to my blogging friends – Caryn, Victoria, Sheena, and Tonya (and Amanda we missed you, but I hope to meet you in the near future). Thanks again!