Toying around

Star Wars action figures The (Toy) Force: Once strong at General Mills.

What do Play-Doh, Nerf balls and Cheerios have in common?

They sure don't all taste good with milk.

All three have had the same parent company: General Mills.

Who knew that General Mills made some of the more wonderful and memorable toys just a short time ago in a galaxy not so far away. Yup. General Mills and Star Wars joined forces in something special that has straddled two millenniums.

General Mills and the movie franchise have worked together since the first Star Wars movie was released in 1977.

The General Mills climb to the top of U.S. toy production began in a short span. General Mills went on a buying spree from 1961 to 1969, purchasing 37 companies – mostly nonfood companies.

Its formidable toy business began 1965 with the acquisition of Rainbow Crafts, makers of Play-Doh modeling compound. It bought Kenner Products in 1967, and Parker Brothers, makers of the board game Monopoly, in 1968.

The toy division was divested in the mid-1980s.