It earned medals. Lots of medals.

Gold Medal advertisement At its core, General Mills was a flour milling company. Many brands dotted our history, but Gold Medal flour remains the most well known.

In 1880, Washburn Crosby entered several grades of flour in the first International Millers' Exhibition in Cincinnati, Ohio. Those flours won the gold, silver and bronze medals, and the company subsequently changed the name of its highest-quality flour to Gold Medal.

Gold Medal was eventually shipped worldwide. Not as easy as it sounds more than 100 years ago.

Shipping flour in sacks proved to be difficult. For one, sacks were loaded and unloaded repeatedly, often with hooks. What's more, the holds of ships could be damp.

An 1878 letter from Percy Young, a London commission merchant for Washburn Crosby, revealed "flour shipped in barrels received in better quality than a later delivery of flour in sacks."

Packaging, it seems, has always mattered. So have customers.

But the world was bigger back then, when communication was slow. Our customers could be like family.

"Our foreign customers ... are not merely buyers, but correspondents and friends of long standing …" said R. F. Bausman, who was in charge of our European, Mediterranean and North African markets in 1923.

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