When Honey Nut Cheerios launched in 1979, the world was abuzz with praise for the delicious nuts and honey-flavored cereal. Created during a recession, Honey Nut Cheerios won over consumers with family-focused advertising and affordable pricing while still tasting just as sweet as any other sugar-laden cereal on the market. From day one, Honey Nut Cheerios also had an enthusiastic, plucky mascot: a bee.
We know him as BuzzBee now, but for the first twenty years of his shelf life this icon was nameless. Check out this 1986 commercial spot where a diver refuses to come up to the surface until he realizes that Honey Nut Cheerios are on the breakfast menu. After munching through the bowl of cereal, the diver’s dad muses aloud, “Bee, this is some taste!” as BuzzBee stumbles off of the box and into the water. Makes you wonder if he lost his balance because he realized he was seven years into being a brand mascot and still missing a name, doesn’t it?
While few cereal mascots are created without names, it’s worth making a beeline for the story behind how BuzzBee got his name.
In September 1999, General Mills launched the “Name the Honey Nut Cheerios Bee Contest” for children ages 5-12 to participate in throughout the United States. The challenge was simple: submit a name fitting for the icon’s personality along with a short essay on why that name was chosen. The winner received credit for his name, and awarded a trip for four to Minneapolis with a $1,000 shopping spree at the Mall of America.
In April 2000, 11-year-old Kristine Tong of Coolidge, TX, won the contest with “BuzzBee” as her name choice. “He is a bee with a lot of talent and when he flies, he makes a buzzing noise. This name suits him.” she wrote in her winning 50-word essay. Her big win was celebrated with a surprise ceremony at her school, where representatives from General Mills unveiled the special-edition Honey Nut Cheerios box featuring a picture of BuzzBee and Kristine together!
A new name means a new look — BuzzBee’s style revamp in 2000 included a rounder face, new sneakers and antennas, and a fresh shirt, making him the bees’ knees of the cereal aisle. He also nabbed his own balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, ending a whirlwind year full of buzz on a high note.
Image credit: General Mills