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.
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.
The museum, which actually used to be an old mill, was downtown and right on the Mississippi River.
Across the way you can see a hint of the Pillsbury Mill Building.
Inside was set up for dinner and socializing.
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.
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?
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.
Here we are making each other pose with pancakes.
Photo ops, taste-testing, flour feeling and then home to the hotel.
The next morning. Early. We packed our stuff and headed off to General Mills. I have to say everything COMPLETELY exceeded my expectations.
We were greeted by the Doughboy right when we walked in the door.
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.
They had memorabilia exhibits, including Betty, the Green Giant, Wheaties and on and on.
These old advertisements make me smile.
As soon as everyone was in the building, we had a quick bite for breakfast.
Yes. Yes. Yes. Betty Crocker Kitchens, here we come.
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.
The Trix Bunny and Lucky Charms guy took pictures with everyone. Hi Amy!
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.
Then, this next part was like getting free samples in the grocery store… but on steroids. New cereals and …
gluten free cereals to sample…
Nut Clusters, Yoplait Smoothies, Parfait Delights, Fiber One Muffins.
Why did they even serve us breakfast. I was stuffed.
These two were always nearby hamming it up.
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.
More sampling and photo taking with Mel, A Dramatic Mommy.
A little blogging in between. Not me. I didn’t even bring a computer.
Here’s that pesky rabbit again. He thinks he’s being funny with the bunny ears. Okay, so it was pretty cute.
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.
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.
Next was the prop room. How they can choose just the right white plate, I don’t know.
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.
And finally, lights, camera, action.
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!
This is the food stylist’s tool kit. Love it!
Food bloggers getting tips from a food photographer. They even handed us their business cards. Big mistake.
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.
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.
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.
But alas, there was only this outdoor seating and some pretty amazing views.
Here’s the store that carries all the General Mills products. I even spotted some Teriyaki-flavored Chex Mix. Cool.
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…
… to even squirrel underpants. Gotta love this place.