How Cheerios Get Their Signature Flavor

Cheerios are a staple on grocery shelves across the United States, and according to Insider, 12.5 per cent of all cereal sold in the U.S. is Cheerios. That's a lot of boxes flying off the shelves! If you've ever wondered what the secret is to the subtle yet tasty flavor, as Cheerios explains, it's all about the toasting process.

One of the key ingredients in the dough that eventually turns into the beloved cereal is oat flour, which is crafted from oats that have been harvested, sifted, and toasted to bring out their flavor (via Cheerios). Once the dough itself has been formed into the cereal's signature shape, in order to accentuate that oat flavor, the cereal is toasted a second time, according to the brand's website.

That second toasting stage also has another important purpose — to super-size those tiny O's of dough. The small, twice-toasted dough shapes are heated up in a way that causes them to puff up (via Cheerios) and become the size you recognize from the many, many bowls of Cheerios you've likely consumed over the years.

The history of this breakfast staple

If you feel like Cheerios have been on the shelves for as long as you can remember, you just might be right. They were first introduced in 1941, and have since become one of the most popular cereals on the market (via Healthline).

Back when they first hit grocery stores and kitchens across the nation, they were actually called Cheerioats (via Mental Floss). Given the care the brand puts into harvesting and handling the oats that make up the dough, it seems like a fitting name. However, the company Quaker Oats didn't quite agree, and claimed that merely including oats in the name of the product was a trademark infringement on their brand, as Mental Floss reports. General Mills, the makers of Cheerios, changed the name to the one fans know and love today in 1945, and they've remained simply Cheerios ever since.

While purists may only have eyes for the traditional toasted oat treat, there are also several additional flavor varieties available for those who want to branch out and thrill their taste buds. The Cheerios website lists blueberry, maple, honey nut, apple cinnamon, chocolate, fruity, frosted, and chocolate peanut butter as regularly available flavors. There are also a few limited edition options that a few consumers may have found on shelves, including peach, toasted coconut, banana nut, chocolate strawberry, and pumpkin spice.