The ties between Wheaties and baseball were strong during the 1930s and 40s. Quaker had Babe Ruth but the “Breakfast of Champions” signed a roster full of great players to endorsement deals. In 1940, Johnny Mize of the St. Louis Cardinals was their promotional pick. A rare original image from the promotional photo session that kicked off the deal is the RMY Auctions Photo of the Day.
Mize is dressed in his Cardinals uniform, bat in hand, and surrounded by boxes of the famous breakfast cereal. The 8×10 Culver Pictures photo was sent to newspapers around the country. This example carries a caption from its original publication by one outlet, one that labeled him the “Wheatie King.”
Ads featuring Mize munching on Wheaties appeared in newspapers and magazines coast-to-coast in the months that followed. Along with other athletes, he was featured on the backs of boxes during part of 1940.
It’s no secret why Mize was in the Wheaties wheelhouse. He was coming off a season in which he led the league in batting (.349) and homers (28) for the Cards. At 27, Mize was in his prime and it was clear he was eating his Wheaties. He followed that stellar 1939 season by belting 43 homers in 1940, establishing a Cardinals team record that stood for nearly 60 more years.
The photo is one of several hundred up for auction through Saturday at RMYAuctions.com.