The Old School Candy Lucky Charms Cereal Evolved From

As the jingle goes, "They're magically delicious," but Lucky Charms weren't always the toasted oat cereal with fun-shaped marshmallows we know today. According to the General Mills website, the iconic Lucky Charms was first sold about fifty years ago. In addition to the original variety of Lucky Charms, there are other versions of the cereal, including a version that has Honey Clover marshmallows, and chocolate or fruity oat cereal. When Lucky Charms debuted on store shelves in 1964, the marshmallows in the box were in the shapes of bells, fish, arrowheads, green clovers, pink hearts, orange stars, and yellow moons. 

The same year, Lucky the Leprechaun was introduced to help promote the cereal, and he appeared in print and on TV as well as comic books and the Sunday comic strip ads, according to The Takeout. And for a time in 1975, the brand briefly tested Waldo the Wizard as a replacement for Lucky, but the jovial leprechaun was soon returned as the cereal's mascot. An early change to Lucky Charms that did stick was the addition of sugar to the oat cereal pieces in 1967, per Retroist, after sales were lackluster. That did the trick, and the cereal joined many others in becoming a breakfast staple.

A sweet addition

Called "marbits," the marshmallow bits added to Lucky Charms were an idea from John Holahan. He invented the cereal when he added cut-up pieces of the famously unpopular circus peanuts candy to a bowl of Cheerios, another General Mills offering. Circus peanuts are made by several manufacturers, including the Spangler Candy Company, which says they make the classic candy in several flavors: vanilla, lemon, cherry, and banana. The original circus peanut candy was created in the 1800s, and during World War II, the marshmallow candy was sold as a sugar replacement when sugar was rationed, according to the site. 

When Lucky Charms was first sold in 1964, more refined marshmallow shapes were introduced, of which only the pink heart shape remains today, according to General Mills. Today the marshmallow charm lineup also includes rainbows, horseshoes, unicorns, clovers, stars, pink balloons, and blue moons. And Lucky Charms can be enjoyed in ways other than just a breakfast cereal. The cereal's site has recipes for a layered rainbow cakefrosted cookie bars, and the company even partnered with Pillsbury to make these Lucky Charms cookies. No matter how you enjoy your Lucky Charms or which marshmallow is your favorite, you can thank Holahan for deciding to cut up marshmallow candy to his bowl of Cheerios.