When Were Jingles First Used in Advertising?

During the 1920s, if you turned on the radio during the winter holidays, you were probably hoping to hear a Christmas tune. You certainly wouldn't have expected to hear an advertising jingle – they didn't exist yet.

Sung by a barbershop quartet, the first advertising jingle was broadcast in 1926 in a Wheaties radio commercial.
Sung by a barbershop quartet, the first advertising jingle was broadcast in 1926 in a Wheaties radio commercial.

But Wheaties changed that on Christmas Eve 1926, when four male crooners called the Wheaties Quartet belted out these memorable lines: "Have you tried Wheaties? They’re whole with all the bran. Won’t you try Wheaties? For wheat is the best food of man." (For the record, it would be another seven years before Wheaties adopted its iconic "breakfast of champions" slogan.)

For a time, only the lucky folks in the Minneapolis area got to hear history's first broadcast jingle – the Minnesota city apparently loved the cereal – but after a while, General Mills gave the commercial a national audience, and sales soared. For their work, each member of the quartet earned $6 per week – equivalent to the price of about 60 boxes of cereal at the time.

What else about Wheaties?

  • In 1958, pole-vaulter Bob Richards became the first athlete to appear on the front of a Wheaties box; baseball legend Lou Gehrig had appeared on the back of a box in 1934.

  • Wheaties was invented by accident when a dietitian noticed that the bran gruel he spilled on a hot stove had hardened into crunchy flakes.

  • Wheaties has been offered in varieties such as "Crispy," "Honey-Frosted," and "Energy Crunch," but none has lasted like the original "breakfast of champions."

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    • Sung by a barbershop quartet, the first advertising jingle was broadcast in 1926 in a Wheaties radio commercial.
      Sung by a barbershop quartet, the first advertising jingle was broadcast in 1926 in a Wheaties radio commercial.