Vintage Breakfast Squares: The sweet frosted bars that General Mills used to make

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Vintage Breakfast Squares - General Mills 1974

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Back in the ’70s, General Mills Breakfast Squares weren’t big sellers, despite gaining some ardent followers — including a lot of kids.

As those kids grew up, though, the bars gained semi-legendary status, taking their place in the gone-but-not-forgotten files with other snack foods like Space Food Sticks and Figurine Diet Bars.

Early on, the square bars came in Chocolate, Cherry, Butter Pecan, Orange and Cinnamon flavors. Later, the product recipe was retooled, and the fruit flavors were dropped and replaced with Chocolate Malt (which became a fan favorite). 

Although they launched with great fanfare in 1971, and General Mills tried for years to make the Breakfast Squares work, the product just never gained enough traction. The company stopped advertising them during the late seventies, leaving us with just memories.

Vintage General Mills Breakfast Squares box: Chocolate flavor (1972)

Vintage Breakfast Squares box from the 1970s

Nutritional information

Each 2-bar serving had 385 calories. (There were four 2-bar packs in each box, for a total of 8 bars/4 servings.)

Ingredients: Sugar, shortening, milk protein, water, peanut butter, cocoa, flour (bleached), soy protein, dried egg, brown sugar syrup, glycerine, salt, mono and diglycerides, artificial flavors, leavening, oat flour, calcium carbonate, dicalcium phosphate, soy lecithin, sodium ascorbate, vitamin E acetate, gum acacia, niacinamide, iron, vitamin A palmitate, pyridoxine (vitamin b5), riboflavin, thiamin, potassium iodide, vitamin D, vitamin B12, sodium propionate, BHA, BHT, citric acid and propylene glycol added to preserve freshness.


A new food invention from General Mills (1971)

A message from James P McFarland, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer.

James P. McFarland, Board Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of General Mills. General Mills, one of the nation’s largest food manufacturers, makes Bits G Cereals, Gold Medal Flour, Betty Crocker Mixes and other familiar brands.

Today you can buy a new kind of breakfast designed expressly to meet the needs of our fast moving world. The product is Breakfast Squares. A complete breakfast. A light, ready-to-eat meal in two frosted bars. So convenient you can eat it on the run.

This food invention is of such nutritional significance that I want to tell you a few things about it. In 1962, we set out to invent a new, modern approach to breakfast.

Our goal was to beat existing breakfasts at combining convenience, nutrition and taste.

Now, after nine years of work on this project and an investment of more than one million dollars, we have met and surpassed this goal.

A new food invention from General Mills - November 9 1971

Two Breakfast Squares by themselves give you as much protein, basic vitamins and minerals and total food energy as a bacon, egg and toast breakfast. The key to this product’s outstanding level of nutrition is a special protein composition developed at our James Ford Bell Technical Center.

This high-quality protein contains all of the essential amino acids — the building blocks of the body. Breakfast Squares is the result. Great nutrition in a new and highly convenient form. A form both appetizing and delicious.

Breakfast Squares are available at your supermarket. I am confident you’ll like them.

Vintage Breakfast Squares commercial

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Complete meal in two frosted bars (1972)

Put the bite on us. We’ll give you 10c to try the new taste of Breakfast Squares.

When we introduced Breakfast Squares, they tasted as good as we knew how to make them.

Some people didn’t think that was good enough. Heck of an idea though. A complete, light meal in two frosted bars, ready to eat.

Now, a year later, good news: Breakfast Squares have the same high level of nutrition as before. But the taste? Make your own delicious discovery.

The choice: Moist, chewy Chocolate. Tart-sweet Cherry. Sunny Orange. Perky Cinnamon. Mellow, nibbly Butter Pecan. Put the bite on us for 10 cents — good on your next purchase of Breakfast Squares — and try them.

Two bars (one serving) give you as much protein, basic vitamins and minerals, and total food energy as this bacon, egg and toast breakfast.

New taste of Breakfast Squares - 1972


Vintage Breakfast Squares for Breakfast to go! (1974)

Introducing Breakfast Squares. For the morning rush. In two tasty bars — as much food energy, basic vitamins and basic minerals as the bacon, egg, toast and fruit breakfast shown below. Even as much protein!

Vintage 1974 Breakfast Squares frosted bars - Chocolate


Vintage Breakfast Squares: Two for the road (1973)

Breakfast Squares … a complete light meal in two frosted bars. Caught up in the morning rush? Hit the road with Breakfast Squares in your purse or pocket.

Each serving is foil-pouched for freshness and easy carrying. Eat them on the way to school, on the way to work, or on the job with a cup of coffee.

Two Breakfast Squares are a complete light meal with as much basic vitamins, basic minerals and total food energy as this bacon and egg breakfast. Even as much protein.

Powerful little goodies — Breakfast Squares.

5 delicious flavors: Chocolate, Cherry, Butter Pecan, Orange and Cinnamon.

Two for the road - 1973 ad for vintage Breakfast Squares

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The new taste of Breakfast Squares. (1974)

Moister texture. More flavor. Same great idea.

You till get a complete light meal in two of these frosted bars. But what a difference in taste! More like brownies. Fuidgier. Bakery-good. And that’s the way they stay — sealed fresh in their foil pouch.

Vintage Breakfast Squares - General Mills 1974


TV commercial for these sweet treats


Don’t let a busy world beat you out of a good breakfast. Take it along. (1974)

Breakfast Squares are a complete light meal in two frosted bars. Ready to eat. Ready to go!

Each two-bar serving is foil pouched for freshness and for taking along. Eat them at home for breakfast, or at work or school. Just stick a pouch, one serving, in your pocket or bag.

If you can’t face food first thing in the morning, save it for the coffee break. Some people keep a whole box at work for whenever they’re hungry.

Just don’t compare Breakfast Squares with a doughnut or sweet roll breakfast. These are powerful little goodies.

One two-bar serving of Breakfast Squares meets the standards nutritionists recommend for breakfast by supplying 25% of the US Recommended Daily Allowances now set by the U.S. Government for protein, ten vitamins and five minerals. High nutrition that gets you off to a running start.

Eat one, save one if you like. The important thing is, with Breakfast Squares, there’s no need to go hungry.

Two for the road - 1974 ad for vintage Breakfast Squares

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General Mills invents Breakfast Squares (1973)

A complete breakfast in two frosted bars

Tasty topping — creamy filling — foil pouch keeps them fresh.

Comes in Chocolate, Cinnamon, Butter Pecan, Chocolate Malt and Variety Pack

General Mills invents Breakfast Squares - 1973


Vintage Breakfast Squares: These are powerful little goodies.

Packaging for the Variety Pack (Vanilla, Cinnamon, Chocolate), Butter Pecan, Chocolate

Retro packages of General Mills Breakfast Squares

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Comments on this story

9 Responses

  1. The closest thing to these today is the ration bars packed into inflatable lifeboats. Except that to extend shelf life and keep them hypoallergenic, the ration bars don’t have peanuts or cocoa in them. Just lots of flour, shortening and sugar moistened with pinch of glycerin. Oh, and they’re lemon flavored now. And 3600 calories. Not for snacking.

  2. Now what the heck got me to thinking about breakfast squares today? Perhaps the terrible breakfast items that they have in the stores today with a lot less calories, hard like rocks, and many are even more tasteless than the breakfast squares were.

    I worked in a distribution warehouse on third shift sending out railroad cars full of these things along with tons of Cheerios. We were all young and hungry and would find ourselves eating broken boxes of these things to keep ourselves going all night in the cold northeastern winters. I remember them being dry, but tasty; you had to keep your thermos of coffee or tea handy to wash them down. Damn, I miss them.

  3. I loved these as a kid. I can’t find anything that tastes as good as I remember the taste of these breakfast bars. Sure wish they were still available!

  4. I loved the cinnamon and chocolate as a child in the seventies. I wish they were still available!

  5. I literally ate them every day. Chocolate only. I still remember when my mom said she couldn’t find them anymore. I kept asking for almost a year, then gave up. So say they are gone.

  6. FYI these have an identical flavor profile to both the chocolate Carnation Breakfast Square and Bar: https://zenplus.jp/balance-power-big-moist-cocoa-2-bags-4-x-8-boxes/p/ivhshop:b7188ba4-1f43-47d5-a472-df3fe92cf0c1

    Japanese nutrition bars in general have that similar pleasant vitamin aftertaste, but when I tried the Balance Power brand Cocoa Bars in particular it was a wild nostalgic throwback in my mouth. Many Japanese markets in the States carry them, but they’re also easy to find online. I haven’t yet tried the other flavors so I can’t verify if they’re consistent with comparable Carnation products (when I was a kid I was only interested in the chocolate type anyway).

    They’re also really good dunked in coffee!

  7. Breakfast Squares were a real treat to 5-year-old me in the mid 1970s! I would always try to get my mom to buy them when we were in the supermarket. I remember they were typically right next to the Alba ’77.

    I was reminded of them today because the bars I just bought from Aldi (Elevation Snack Advance – Caramel Double Chocolate Crunch, which is a misleading name because I detected no caramel or crunchiness) had the same chocolate flavor and “pleasant vitamin aftertaste” JH mentions in the above comment.

    As much as I loved them as a kid, I’m pretty sure I’d be somewhat disappointed if I were to somehow find a real Breakfast Square again. Nostalgia is a hell of a drug.

  8. I sure wish I could go to the store and buy Breakfast Squares once again. I ate them every day they helped me lose about 50 lbs. they were the best thing I have ever ate. Sure wish they would come to the store again.

    1. Me too, I wish they’d bring them back made the exact same way they were back then. There hasn’t been anything quite as good as they were back then since, but you know the makers would have to screw up the recipe somehow, and they wouldn’t taste the same.

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