Monday, August 31, 2009

A peek inside General Mills

I spent a little over 24 hours in Minneapolis last week. It has to be the shortest trip I’ve ever been on, and at the same time, the most jam-packed.

I’ll just warn you, turn away now if you don’t like looking at other people’s trip photos. But, stick around if you want a little peek behind the scenes of a baking giant. I’ll keep the commentary short.

General Mills hosted about 50 bloggers to come to their international headquarters in Minnesota for their first ever Eat & Greet.

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They’ve been around forever, but I guess they’re kinda new to social media and were putting their foot in the door with this event. I’m not completely sure how they picked who they picked to attend, but I’m glad their PR company invited me. And actually when they said we would be visiting the Betty Crocker test kitchens, well… I was sold.

They flew us in on Wednesday in time to attend a reception dinner at the Mill City Museum that evening.

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The museum, which actually used to be an old mill, was downtown and right on the Mississippi River.

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Across the way you can see a hint of the Pillsbury Mill Building.

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Inside was set up for dinner and socializing.

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I didn’t know anyone. No one. So I was happy to meet another food blogger. This is Jenny from Picky Palate and so super sweet.

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Before dinner we were able to tour the Museum. Lots of cool General Mills and Betty Crocker memorabilia. Anyone have one of these Easy-Bake Ovens from 1972 or a Betty Crocker mixer?

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There was an interactive journey chronicling flour milling and its impact on Minneapolis through an eight-story Flour Tower Elevator Tour which was pretty cool. Don’t have pictures of that. I know… you’re disappointed.

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Here we are making each other pose with pancakes.

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Photo ops, taste-testing, flour feeling and then home to the hotel.

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The next morning. Early. We packed our stuff and headed off to General Mills. I have to say everything COMPLETELY exceeded my expectations.

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We were greeted by the Doughboy right when we walked in the door.

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The entire building or buildings I should say were beautiful. They had graphic details like this everywhere. Who else wants a word wall? Me. I do. I do.

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They had memorabilia exhibits, including Betty, the Green Giant, Wheaties and on and on.

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These old advertisements make me smile.

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As soon as everyone was in the building, we had a quick bite for breakfast.

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This is Anna from Cookie Madness, Megan from Megan’s Munchies, Jenny from Picky Palate and Nicole from Baking Bites.

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Yes. Yes. Yes. Betty Crocker Kitchens, here we come.

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This is a view of just part of the kitchens from an observation floor above. There are 19. Nineteen. Nine. Teen. Kitchens.

And excuse me, but look at that view.

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The Trix Bunny and Lucky Charms guy took pictures with everyone. Hi Amy!

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Doing double duty here. Filming Jenny with her new Flip camera (everybody got one) and trying to take still pics at the same time. And, she’s trying to grab as many box top coupons while keeping her dress from flying up. Guess we were both doing double duty.

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Then, this next part was like getting free samples in the grocery store… but on steroids. New cereals and …

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gluten free cereals to sample…

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Nut Clusters, Yoplait Smoothies, Parfait Delights, Fiber One Muffins.

Why did they even serve us breakfast. I was stuffed.

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These two were always nearby hamming it up.

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Bruschetta…

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Oh … if you watch the Food Network you should know who this is. Ask Aida was there to answer questions. This is the best photo I have where she’s also smiling. Sorry for the blurriness.

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More sampling and photo taking with Mel, A Dramatic Mommy.

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A little blogging in between. Not me. I didn’t even bring a computer.

Pesky Rabbit

Here’s that pesky rabbit again. He thinks he’s being funny with the bunny ears. Okay, so it was pretty cute.

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Did I mention, we were also allowed behind the scenes of the brand new photography studios?

This was my favorite part. I could have spent the whole day… week… month here.

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As you enter, you’re greeted by a gallery of images. Photographers are given free license to create artwork using general mills products. These were just a few I was able to snap a pic of.

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Next was the prop room. How they can choose just the right white plate, I don’t know.

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Here’s sweet Megan with Hungry Girl. You know, the NYT Best Selling author of 200 Recipes Under 200 Calories. Okay, please say you don’t know who she is. I didn’t. But it’s probably because I eat at McDonald’s.

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And finally, lights, camera, action.

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Their proofing system is pretty amazing. They can look at photos on the fly. That’s a still camera on the right, not a video camera by the way. It takes a 98 meg file. That’s ginormous!

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This is the food stylist’s tool kit. Love it!

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Food bloggers getting tips from a food photographer. They even handed us their business cards. Big mistake.

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The photographers take all the photos for all the recipes, magazines, cookbooks and packaging.

And hearing the stories of how they’ll choose just the right brownie for a single shot, it’s no easy task.

Their work is beautiful though and here’s their website portfolio to prove it.

After the photo tour, we started wrapping things up. Lunch, the company gift store, and then a shuttle to the airport by 2:00 p.m.

General Mills was incredible. The people, the campus, the culture. If you live in Minneapolis, run and apply for a job. Now.

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In addition to their programs and products, they have an on-site restaurant, cafeteria and Caribou Coffee for employees.

They have a grocery store, childcare services, banking services, doctor’s office, dry cleaners, hair salon, photo lab, fitness center and gas station, all on the premises.

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Seriously, it’s like being in a mall.

And any minute, I expected to turn the corner and find a Lucky Charms Leprechaun Land amusement park complete with rainbow roller coaster.

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But alas, there was only this outdoor seating and some pretty amazing views.

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Here’s the store that carries all the General Mills products. I even spotted some Teriyaki-flavored Chex Mix. Cool.

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In addition to the corporate store and convenience store, they also have the cutest gift shop.

You can find all kinds of gifts from baby toys…

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… to even squirrel underpants. Gotta love this place.

1
Heather said...

That looks like it was so much fun! Thanks for sharing an adventure. It is fun to see what goes on all around us that we (or me, at least) are so clueless about.

August 31, 2009 04:50 AM
2
Kaitlyn said...

What a great experience. Looks like you had a fantastic time. GM looks like a great company to be a part of…

Thanks for sharing!

August 31, 2009 05:04 AM
3
Lindsey said...

Looks amazing! What a neat place!
Thanks so much for sharing your trip, it looks like a great adventure.

{ Lindsey }
http://greatfullday.blogspot.com

August 31, 2009 05:04 AM
4
littlegreen said...

this looks like pretty much the coolest tour I have ever heard of in my life!!! What an awesome time, I would have loved this. By the way, love your blog, thanks for all the "sweet" inspiration! I know, I'm a dork! :)

August 31, 2009 05:04 AM
5
Sydney said...

thats so cool. Lol squirrel underpants??

August 31, 2009 05:07 AM
6
Kaitlin said...

I am so happy to see those gluten free cereals, as I have changed sooo many recipes to provide goodies for my best friend suffering from Celiac disease. Always puts a smile on my face when new things come out that I can swap for cookie crumbs and such.

Looks like General Mills did a fabulous job at hosting their first eat and greet, and looks like you met some awesome blogging Betties while you were there!

P.S. Your blog is enlightening and perfect for a young and simple but snazzy baker like myself. Thanks a bundle :)

August 31, 2009 05:07 AM
7
The Boob Nazi said...

Oh my gosh. That was amazing. I wish I were a big blogger and could be invited. Do they do tours for regular people too? Looks like I might have a reason to go to Minnesota.

August 31, 2009 05:08 AM
8
booklineandsinker said...

ohhhhhh…looks like a grand time! their photos are unbelievable–i want to dash downstairs and bake something just so i can take some pictures (and i'm a BOOK blogger…nothing to do with food!!)! thanks for the behind-the-scenes of your special trip!

August 31, 2009 05:24 AM
9
Brittanie said...

Oh I wanna go there! I'm so happy you shared your pictures. It's nice to see the behind the scenes magic!

August 31, 2009 05:36 AM
10
Vanessa said...

Looks like such fun!!!! Thanks so much for sharing all those pics :D

August 31, 2009 05:38 AM
11
Saucy said...

Bakerella, I will make an exception and absolutely devour your vacation snapshots if it means seeing General Mills up close like this!

The history! The Americana! The dough boy. Sweeet.

August 31, 2009 05:40 AM
12
BarefootTams said...

Wow! What an amazing experience!! Thanks for sharing!

August 31, 2009 05:46 AM
13
Catlin Humes said...

I really enjoyed reading about your experience, it seems that you had a great time!

August 31, 2009 05:47 AM
14
Sarah said...

Oh wow! That was awesome. I'd love to go there, especially if it means I could get my hands on some of that Frankenberry cereal.

August 31, 2009 06:06 AM
15
kanmuri said...

Wow!!! I really want to go now. Looks like you were in heaven lol

August 31, 2009 06:20 AM
16
Monica H said...

Your trip to GM looks incredible. What a jam packed day. I want to officially move and work there. It sounds so ideallic.

August 31, 2009 06:25 AM
17
kara strate said...

FUN!!!!

August 31, 2009 06:26 AM
18
Scott+Tiffany said...

Looks like so much fun. i just love your blog. I'm excited to make cute cowgirl cookie jars for upcoming birthdays. and i love that you found jenny from picky-palate. she is my other fav. blog :-)

August 31, 2009 06:29 AM
19
Dawn said...

I must say this is a great blog post, I want to work at GM now. At first I thought it said general motors, and I kept thinking why in the world would bakerella go there. DUH! General milllllsss…duh!

What a fun happy place, love all the vintage stuff. My first cook book was betty! love that book!

Happy bloggin!

August 31, 2009 06:37 AM
20
Kristy said...

Thanks for sharing!! Really cool pictures and descriptions!! How lucky (talented) are you?!

August 31, 2009 06:44 AM
21
Chelsie said...

I am so Jealous! You are super lucky to have been able to go to the general mills place and have the vip tour.

August 31, 2009 06:47 AM
22
Alice said...

Wow – what a great post. Just had a read through and want to come back later when I've got an hour to chase those links!

August 31, 2009 07:00 AM
23
Brit Swiderski said...

Looks like you had a ton of fun! I live in Minneapolis, and the Mill City Museum is on of my favorite places of the city. Everything about it is just so amazing, and I can't even explain why. Thanks for sharing your travels with us!

August 31, 2009 07:02 AM
24
BrassWillow said...

What a great trip!!

Thanks for sharing the inside scoop.

August 31, 2009 07:15 AM
25
Burnt Mill Candles and Soap said...

that looks like it would have been fun. I would have been in love in the photo area and using all the props(dishes) they have.

August 31, 2009 07:20 AM
26
*~Sarah Lynn~* said...

What a fantastic trip! Wish I DID work there!

August 31, 2009 07:21 AM
27
Pola said...

Easy-Bake Ovens … in Italy it was sold under the name of "Il dolce forno" (the sweet oven). I did my first baking with it. It had a major downside: you couldn't bake rising sweets or you had to destroy them to take them off the oven. I still have it somewhere.
Btw I'm a '83 class, so here it was sold in the 80's as well.
Everything cooked unders a lightbulb's light. Ahahah!

August 31, 2009 07:29 AM
28
morgana said...

Wow!!! What a great andventure!!! It seems you had a great time.

Thanks for sharing. Some times I think I was born in the wrong country. :-(((

Cheers from Spain.

August 31, 2009 07:32 AM
29
Tanya said...

What a huge place !Thanks for sharing .

August 31, 2009 07:55 AM
30
Nicky Farmer said...

I love it! I originally come from a PR background, so to see the two (baking & PR) come together so nicely is right up my alley!!! What a progressive sounding company and such a beautiful environment!
Nicky
http://sabakersdozen.blogspot.com

August 31, 2009 07:57 AM
31
Anna Bartlett said...

Thanks so much! What an amazing trip!

August 31, 2009 08:32 AM
32
TopCat76 said...

wow, looks like you had a fabulous time! You write a great travel blog you know, really enjoyed every word and every photo!

August 31, 2009 08:59 AM
33
samantha ezra. said...

eat and greet! ahha what a fab idea. sounds like you have tonnes of fun!

August 31, 2009 09:29 AM
34
Chez said...

Ahhhh! What a great experience. General Mills rocks!

August 31, 2009 10:27 AM
35
-Julie said...

That looks like so much fun!

August 31, 2009 10:49 AM
36
Jo Whitehurst said...

AWESOME!! Thanks for taking us with you on the tour!

August 31, 2009 10:56 AM
37
Patty said...

I'm jealous! Looks like you had a fantastic time! Being from MN (not currently living there), when I was in 8th grade we toured GM for an end of the year school trip. I'm sure there have been many changes since then. I'd love to tour it again.

August 31, 2009 10:59 AM
38
Jackie said...

That looks like the most fun! Do they do public tours?

August 31, 2009 11:19 AM
39
likeschocolate said...

What a fun experience! I find it hard to believe that some of the women actually eat what they make. Since I started blogging I gained 12 pounds and I don't blog about food everyday.

August 31, 2009 11:24 AM
40
Karen Cupcake said...

oh That was SO COOL!!! IM SO Jealous!! I want to go!!!!!!
I would love to see all the different food we dont see every day too… like teriyaki chex mix!!! Yum!

August 31, 2009 11:25 AM
41
Melinda said...

That looked awesome! I would love to go see the museum parts of General Mills. Old advertisements make me smile too.

August 31, 2009 12:01 PM
42
Lauren said...

I am so so jealous! It looks like you had a blast!

August 31, 2009 12:06 PM
43
It's A Wonderful said...

What fun! Congratulations for being chosen to attend such a great event…did you bring the Bunny home with you?

August 31, 2009 12:07 PM
44
Christine Edwards said...

I loved reading about your whirlwind tour of General Mills. What an experience!

August 31, 2009 12:17 PM
45
Marian said...

That was such an interesting read. Thanks for sharing!

I'm amazed to see the General Mills facilities – I had no idea they were so extensive! I'd definitely apply for a job if I lived near there!

Glad to see that they're coming out with gluten-free cereals and how can I get a hold of those squirrel underpants? lol

August 31, 2009 12:18 PM
46
Pamela said...

It looks like such a wonderful trip. I think it's so cool that you got to see so much behind the scenes stuff!! Thanks for sharing the fun with us.

August 31, 2009 12:23 PM
47
paddlemama said...

I'm moving to Minneapolis right now. I want to work at General Mills. I'll empty the trash, clean the toilets, whatever!

BTW, do you have a list of all the bloggers who were invited to attend? It'd be cool to check out all of their blogs.

August 31, 2009 12:28 PM
48
TwinMomma said...

I loved looking at your pictures from your trip!!! It looks like an amazing place to be invited to! =) What a lucky blogger you are….;)

August 31, 2009 12:31 PM
49
Leslie Smith said...

oh my god you met HungryGirl!? I'm so jealous! well, I guess I'm ALWAYS jealous because you go to the coolest places (Pioneer Woman's ranch) and make the most delectable recipes! Keep on baking, Bakarella!!! I always love reading your new blogs :)

August 31, 2009 12:32 PM
50
minnesotamom said...

One more hip-hip-hooray for Minnesota!

August 31, 2009 12:35 PM
51
Christine said...

What a fun trip! Thanks for sharing it with us. I would LOVE to go there.

August 31, 2009 12:36 PM
52
Bridget said...

Oh, thanks for sharing that trip! TOTALLY JEALOUS!!!

August 31, 2009 12:43 PM
53
Claire said...

You are one lucky girl! I love the photo studio & food styling session the best =)

August 31, 2009 12:44 PM
54
nitareeny said...

Wow! Looks like a GREAT place and experience! Thank you for sharing it with us! I love places and tours like that!

August 31, 2009 12:56 PM
55
Goldylocks said...

WoW! What a great time. I would have LOVED to be there.

August 31, 2009 12:57 PM
56
BAKING is my ZeN...sweet nibbles for the soul said...

Excellent post. Love the photos!

August 31, 2009 12:57 PM
57
Anonymous said...

It's "peek," not "peak"

August 31, 2009 12:58 PM
58
MamaBear91 said...

What a blessing to get to tour GM! Thanks for sharing! I now have a reason to visit Minneapolis.

August 31, 2009 12:59 PM
59
Abby said...

That is so freaking cool!!! I am so jealous! So glad you got to go and thanks for sharing your pics with us!! (I'm still jealous though…)

August 31, 2009 01:04 PM
60
Karin said...

I am pretty jealous. My husband works there and you have seen more than he ever will. Consider yourself very fortunate to have been able to see what you saw. Ever since they redesigned the test kitchens and campus in general it has been off-limits for tours.

August 31, 2009 01:05 PM
61
Cindy said...

Thanks for sharing! You chose great photos, and, as usual, your commentary was great!

August 31, 2009 01:06 PM
62
Katrina said...

What a fun experience, great recaps and awesome photos! Wish they would have picked me! ;)

August 31, 2009 01:11 PM
63
kitchengirl_2007 said...

wow you are pretty and can bake!! Life isn't fair… :)
Love your website and your pictures. Thanks for motivating to bake and try new things!
All the best!

August 31, 2009 01:13 PM
64
Zoila Elaine Borges Alicea said...

Thank for share this beautifuls pictures, General Mills look amazing….

August 31, 2009 01:24 PM
65
Anonymous said...

That was nice to get get a peek of what you saw behind the scenes. Thank you for sharing….

August 31, 2009 01:24 PM
66
Gayle Rogers said...

What a place to work!

August 31, 2009 01:26 PM
67
Pam said...

What fun pictures…thank you for sharing your trip with us!

August 31, 2009 01:26 PM
68
Julie said...

What a fun trip! I feel like I was there with you by looking at the photos and reading all about it.
Thanks for sharing your trip with all of us!

August 31, 2009 01:29 PM
69
Judy said...

Look at how much fun you had. I wanna go there.

And yes I still YOU READ that right… I STILL HAVE MY 1972 Easy Bake Oven. My dd has even used it. Still works. Oh the wonderful memories I have from cooking with my Easy Bake Oven! And yes mine is the same color as the photo!

August 31, 2009 01:30 PM
70
TidyMom said...

Oh what FUN that looks like!! Thanks for taking us along!
Kudos to General Mills for hosting such a fun event!!

~TidyMom

August 31, 2009 01:38 PM
71
Happiness Is... said...

Great pictures! Looks like an amazing company!

August 31, 2009 01:39 PM
72
bttrflybabydoll said...

That looked like a lot of fun! Thank you for showing it to us.

For the record, I work at McDonald's….I had no idea who she was either! LOL

August 31, 2009 01:39 PM
73
Joycee said...

Great pictures, just like we were along for the adventure!

August 31, 2009 01:40 PM
74
DollFace Delights said...

How fun!

August 31, 2009 01:43 PM
75
Dee said...

Great visit!

I don't know why, but I have an incredible craving to buy some of those squirrel underpants!

Dee :::off to figure out HOW I'm going to get my squirrels dressed!:::

August 31, 2009 01:46 PM
76
Kelley said...

Awesome, it makes me want to go there – and kind of makes me want to work there!

August 31, 2009 01:52 PM
77
nurseknitsalot said...

My best friend has worked for General Mills for the last 27 years…a wonderful company to work for with outstanding benefits.

August 31, 2009 01:56 PM
78
Suburban Princess said...

I love your pics! Thank you for sharing your experience! I bet you had a great time!

August 31, 2009 01:58 PM
79
Karyn said...

Wow, that looks like such an awesome place to visit! Who would have thought??? I would love to be able to take a peek into the props room!!! Thanks for sharing your photos!

P.S. LOVE the squirel underwear!

August 31, 2009 02:00 PM
80
DragonDesigns said...

Absolutely, undeniably, beyond jealous! I have seen several shows on "food artists", but this would have been the icing on the cupcake (hehehe)

Love your blogsite!

August 31, 2009 02:05 PM
81
Carrie ~ Cricketwood Prims said...

Wow, what an amazing time, loved your post.
Will enjoy browsing your many featured bloggers too.

August 31, 2009 02:12 PM
82
Renda said...

This has inspired my next trip. Do they do tours to the public?
Thanks for the Gluten Free pictures! It's hard to look at all that fun and remember "OH yeah.. I cant touch that stuff."

My brother works at one of the General Mills plants in Missouri.

So Cool !

August 31, 2009 02:14 PM
83
Shazza911 said...

What a fantastic experience!! Love the pictures and learning about what you saw!!

August 31, 2009 02:23 PM
84
denise said...

I live in China right now, but I grew up just a couple miles from the GM headquarters. Your pictures and story made me homesick. I have taken the GM tour of head quarters and the Mill City tour, both are great!
My best friend in Mpls works at head quarters and I am so jealous of her job. This company knows how to treat employees well!!
I am so glad you got to go!! Keep up the good work!

August 31, 2009 02:29 PM
85
Katie said...

Looks like it was a blast! Thanks for sharing it with us!!!

August 31, 2009 02:39 PM
86
VeggieGirl said...

What a phenomenal experience!! You met lots of great people and had a great time – awesome.

And your comment about Hungry Girl made me laugh out loud, haha :-D

August 31, 2009 02:39 PM
87
Amy said...

I want….to live there.

August 31, 2009 02:44 PM
88
Michelle said...

omigawd i envy you so much right now. that would be so freakn awesome

August 31, 2009 02:44 PM
89
Susie said...

That looks like so much fun! I want to go!

August 31, 2009 02:50 PM
90
Katie Bug said...

How fun! I'm so glad they chose you to go.

August 31, 2009 02:52 PM
91
Rachel said...

Whoohoo! You and Jenny are my two favorite foodie blogger's! :D Glad you got to meet! Wow! Their facilities are amazing! Thanks for sharing your adventure with all of us!

Blessings!
~Miss Rachel~

August 31, 2009 02:53 PM
92
Dandy said...

How amazing!!

I can't wait to come back to your post and check out all the links too.

August 31, 2009 03:01 PM
93
WishTrish said...

Loved every word, and enjoyed the tasty pictures in their gallery. Glad you shared!

August 31, 2009 03:10 PM
94
verlindahenning said...

They look like one great company–and how much fun you guys had! Thanks for sharing!

August 31, 2009 03:18 PM
95
lilbunnyfoofoo said...

Wow, that was one jam packed day. Love it, Love it, Love it. Thank you for sharing photos. Indeed, it would be a great company to work for.
gourdsrmylife@yahoo.com

August 31, 2009 03:37 PM
96
Michy said...

That looked amazing! Love the squirrel underpants at the end. lol!

August 31, 2009 03:52 PM
97
Stacey said...

Glad you had fun! I live about 25 minutes North of Minneapolis. Sorry, it was a very cold weekend! We haven't had much of a summer here.

August 31, 2009 04:00 PM
98
Rose said...

Ok, first off, my sister did have an easy bake oven from the seventies, and she just sold it in a garage sale, it was still in working condition even!! Second, I didn't know who the "200 calorie" author was either, so don't feel bad lol. Looks like a super good trip, thanks for sharing the photos!

August 31, 2009 04:02 PM
99
Connie said...

My uncle worked at General Mills and retired from there a few years ago. He was one of the team that created and tested Bisquick. He enjoyed his time there.

Thanks for sharing your photos. It truly does look like a great place to work or visit.

Connie

P.S. Love your blog!

August 31, 2009 04:14 PM
100
Amy Lindstrom said...

So glad I got to meet you!

I talked to someone at MyBlogSpark and asked how they picked who would go. She said that General Mills poured through like 2,000 blogs and picked the ones they felt were the most influential. Totally agree with you. Me….well, it was a fluke that I got there, but I am SO glad I did! I learned to much, which will help with the new blog I have been working on!

Alright, now I am off to make some "Apple" cake pops for Back to School. Thanks for that little gem! :)

August 31, 2009 04:16 PM
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