Yankees great Lou Gehrig was the first baseball player to appear on a Wheaties box, in 1934.
Adding Gehrig to the back of their cereal box helped Wheaties back up their claim to be “The Breakfast of Champions.”
Gehrig was a perfect choice as a “champion” spokesman since his Yankees had won four World Series since he debuted in 1923. Gehrig himself won the American League Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award in 1927, beating out teammate Babe Ruth, who hit a then-record 60 home runs.
Gehrig would go on to win another MVP in 1936 as the Yankees won the first of another four championships in a row. It all added up to make Gehrig one of the most famous athletes in the world.
In fact, Gehrig was the first athlete from any sport to appear on a Wheaties box, just nudging out fellow baseball player Jimmie Foxx, who also appeared on a box in 1934.
The diamond stars were followed by tennis standout Ellsworth Vines and aviators Elinor Smith and Martin & Osa Johnson. Smith was the first woman depicted on a Wheaties box.
Gehrig made encore appearances on Wheaties boxes in both 1992 and 1999.
On that 1999 box, Wheaties included a reprint of the Iron Horse’s 1934 box.