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Even Olympic Athletes Can't Seem To Save Wheaties

Lindsey Vonn featured on a box of Wheaties
Source: Wheaties
Lindsey Vonn featured on a box of Wheaties

A couple of years ago, the folks at General Mills sensed trouble for its Wheaties, one of the oldest cereal franchises in the world.

Athletes who used to say they would eat their Wheaties, no longer did.

And so too followed a general public.

Sales first flattened and then fell.

With that in mind, General Mills created Wheaties Fuel, a cereal that tastes a whole lot like Cinnamon Toast Crunch and has the calories too (250 for a 3/4 cup with skim milk!). But it also boasts 100 percent of your daily supply of almost every vitamin you could take.

It’s too early to tell how that experiment will work, but one thing is for sure, regular Wheaties continues to plummet.

Data provided to CNBC by IRI shows that the ready-to-eat cereal category grew in dollar sales by .47 percent in the last year, but sales of Wheaties – which saw a double-digit decline last year – have been down 7.14 percent in the last 52 weeks with almost 11 percent fewer boxes being sold.

Shaun White featured on a box of Wheaties
Source: Wheaties
Shaun White featured on a box of Wheaties

Today marked one of the bigger launches of the year for Wheaties as they rolled out three limited edition boxes of Olympians Lindsey Vonn, Shaun White and Seth Wescott.

And while it’s an honor for those athletes to say they were on a box of Wheaties, it seems like the age old sports marketing practice that once vaulted Wheaties to the top isn’t going to work.

Maybe a few collectors will buy a fair amount of boxes, but the kids today would rather have the box with Toucan Sam on it.

Perhaps with Fuel, the folks at General Mills have figured out that it’s what’s in the box today and not who is on it that counts.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com

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