Originally created 01/18/00

Cereal promotes new coins



Heads and tails are bobbing Cheerio-style in cereal bowls around the country. They're breakfast prizes you can bank on.

The U.S. Mint is circulating the 2000 penny and new Golden Dollar -- featuring the American Indian heroine Sacagawea -- in all six brands of General Mills' Cheerios.

The campaign is part of the dollar's introduction to consumers, who'll be using it more and more as production of the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin is discontinued.

It's the first time new currency is being promoted like a commercial product, said Mint spokesman Michael White.

"People don't imagine the government as being this progressive," Mr. White said. "It sort of breaks the mold."

Ten million specially wrapped pennies will be packaged in cereal boxes throughout the United States. New dollars will be included in every 2,000th box. Certificates redeemable for 100 dollar coins will be in every 4,400th box. Picture cards of the new coin will be distributed.

Cereal boxes as an advertising medium? It's not a typical medium for the U.S. Mint, but Mr. White estimated 150 million impressions of the gold dollar will be disseminated through the cereal boxes, which General Mills expects will begin appearing in grocery stores any day.

"(The Mint) really saw it as a whole new venue to unveil the coin and promote it," said company spokeswoman Liv Lane. "People read their breakfast cereal boxes every morning and kids look for the prizes."

It's a customer-friendly campaign for a coin made to be customer friendly.

Golden in color, with smooth edges like the nickel and a wider border, the new dollar is discernible by sight and by touch. The diameter, weight and electro-magnetic composition is the same as the Susan B. Anthony coin -- the right size and compliance to prevent vending and mass transit coin machines from having to be retooled.

And Glenna Goodacre's rendering of Sacagawea -- a navigator and interpreter who assisted U.S. explorers Lewis and Clark on their historic expedition to the Pacific Ocean and back from 1804-1806 -- is popular based on public response, including more than 130,000 e-mails.

"When the Susan B. was introduced (in 1979), it was sort of just put out there, and everybody was expected to use it," Mr. White said. "But the design wasn't very popular, and the public just never warmed to it. We know a lot more now."

The Mint predicts production will double current annual demand for the Susan B. Anthony, reaching 100 million to 300 million per year.