Just two years ago, General Mills promised it would phase out "artificial flavors and colors" from its cereals—including its sugar-laden but uber-popular Lucky Charms. And yet, the company's latest announcement—which you can read on its website—seems to directly contradict that promise. General Mills is giving away a whopping 10,000 boxes of special Lucky Charms, packed only with the brands infamous (and artificial) colored marshmallows.
In fact, the marshmallows-only cereal contains 110 calories and 22 grams of sugar per serving, which is even more sugar than you'll find in your average candy bar or cookie. (Interesting and scary fact: the average American eats an alarming 100 grams of sugar a day already.)
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Perhaps the most interesting twist to this story though, is that General Mills has tried to make healthier Lucky Charms. It has tried for years. But sometimes, the company says, there's just no substitute for fake flavors. In fact, finding natural additives to replace the cereal's less desirable ingredients is "still our biggest challenge," spokesman Mike Siemienas has said. "We'll let you know when we've found a solution."
Until then, it seems, General Mills' plans to make Lucky Charms healthier will take a back seat to sales, which have been lagging across the cereal industry, including at General Mills. Most companies are experiencing a nine percent loss, according to the Washington Post. By contrast, General Mills' sales slipped by five percent in the most recent quarter.
"Fans of Lucky Charms are obsessed with our marshmallows," senior marketing manager Priscilla Zee says in the announcement. Last year, the company gave away just 10 of the marshmallows-only boxes of cereal, and "we were overwhelmed with calls, e-mails, and tweets ... asking for a box of our Lucky Charms marshmallows." This year's 10,000 boxes will give fans "even more opportunities to win," she says. Of course, it also gives the company more opportunity to cash in on special sales.
To try the limited-edition cereal for free, you'll need to purchase specially-marked boxes of Lucky Charms—which will hit retail shelves across the country "soon," General Mills' website says—and head to MarshmallowOnly.com, where you will enter a 14-digit code found on the back of the cereal box. If you're one of 10,000 (lucky) winners, General Mills will send you its special Lucky Charms Marshmallows on the house.