When was the last time you bought a box of Wheaties? If you’re like most Americans, probably not in a long, long time—maybe back when you still played travel soccer and hung posters of Alexi Lalas in your bedroom.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the General Mills-owned cereal brand—known for its iconic boxes featuring the greatest athletes of the day—is struggling to stay relevant on grocery-store shelves. Wheaties is still nabbing top-tier athletes like Sochi gold medalists Mikaela Shiffrin and Sage Kotsenburg to slap their face on the box, but the numbers don’t lie. “Over several decades, its market share has dropped from the high single digits to barely 1%,” according to market-research firm Euromonitor International. As a result, its fallen from “king of the cereal aisle” to the 17th most popular U.S. cereal brand.
It’s not entirely clear why Wheaties has dropped so precipitously in the rankings, but one key factor seems to be that the healthy cereal landscape has changed dramatically, and Wheaties has simply been out-marketed by newcomers like Kashi and Special K. Another problem might be that the 91-year-old brand is simply stagnant. The box was always a bigger draw than the dried wheat flakes inside, and kids these days don’t have the same collector impulses as those of us who grew up in the baseball-card-trading era.
Of course, there’s still a big demand for the boxes among older collectors. The Journal mentions a 1935 Wheaties panel featuring Gehrig that’s on eBay $369.95.
Here’s a breakdown of how many athletes from different sports have graced the Wheaties box in the past:
- Baseball: 161
- Football: 130
- Basketball: 48
- Summer Olympics: 31
- Hockey: 20
- Golf: 19
- Winter Olympics: 15
- Auto racing: 14
- Tennis: 10
- Soccer: 8
- Wrestling, marathon, boxing: Tied at 4
Michael Jordan holds the record for most appearances—he’s been on the box 18 times.
Click through the gallery above to see some of our favorite Wheaties boxes of all time.