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Dessert at the breakfast table

Betty Crocker, the grand dame of boxed cakes and desserts, is branching into the breakfast cereal business.

General Mills Inc. announced Friday that a line of Betty Crocker breakfast cereals will join Cheerios, Lucky Charms and other Big G cereals on grocery shelves this fall.

Betty Crocker Cinnamon Streusel and Dutch Apple cereals are low-fat and fortified with vitamins and minerals, but the boxes are designed to appeal to dessert lovers, the company said.

The Cinnamon Streusel box promises "delicious baked taste of cinnamon streusel," and the Dutch Apple box tempts the buyer to try the "delicious baked taste of Dutch apple crisp."

The company plans to add other flavors.

Another General Mills product, Frosted Cheerios, was introduced last fall.

Betty Crocker, the General Mills brand with the greatest name recognition among consumers, accounts for $1.5-billion, or nearly 30 percent, of the company's annual sales.

In addition to dessert mixes, the trademark red spoon logo is found on items such as scalloped potatoes, microwave popcorn and chewy fruit snacks.

Cereal accounts for 60 percent of General Mills' profit, but the company's share of the U.S. cereal market has hovered in the mid-20s behind Kellogg Co., which has about 33 percent of the market.

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