If you grew up in Michigan prior to the mid-80s, there is a good chance you went on a trip to Battle Creek to tour the Kellogg's cereal factory. It was always a great little day trip for families back then.

Sunday, April 11th is the anniversary of when Kellogg stopped giving tours of its breakfast-food plant. The tours came to an end in 1986. The almost 80-year tradition came to an end because Kellogg said company secrets were at risk due to spies from other cereal companies.

Kellogg offered public tours of its factory starting in 1912, and over 6 million visitors toured the facility in the 74 years the tours were offered.

If I remember correctly, the tour ran about 60 minutes. When you started the tour, you were given a little paper hat to wear inside the factory for sanitary reasons. There was a unique smell in the factory, it was almost a sickeningly sweet smell at first, but you quickly got used to it, and by the end of the tour you didn't even notice the smell anymore.

As you walked through the factory, you saw many of Kellogg's cereal brands being produced. As a child, I was mesmerized seeing the boxes being filled with cereal and moving along the production line to be packed up to be shipped to our local grocery stores.

The best part of the tour came at the end -- when visitors were given a couple of postcards and a variety pack of several individual servings of a variety of Kellogg’s cereals. I also heard that back in the 1960s, the tour concluded with bowls of ice cream topped with Fruit Loops or Cocoa Crispies. (sorry I missed that!)

After the company stopped giving their tours, a substitute came later in 1998 when a museum/exhibit called "Cereal City" opened at the factory. Cereal City had a simulated cereal production line, but it just wasn’t the same as seeing the real thing. That too came to an end when Cereal City closed in 2007.

Special thanks to Heidi Allen for providing the picture at the top of this post. She is in the picture with her brother Andy Stokes (on the left). I don't think pictures were allowed on the tour, but afterward many families took pictures at the Tony the Tiger and Tony Jr. statue outside the plant.

Here is more information and pictures about Kellogg's Cereal Factory Tours.

Here is more on the history of Kellogg's.