General Mills has been serving Americans breakfast for nearly 150 years. On Monday, the cereal giant that has lined grocery store shelves with staple products for decades, announced its plan to remove all artificial colors and flavors from its entire line of cereals by the end of 2015. Trix, Cocoa Puffs, and Reese’s Puffs will be the first of the classic and beloved cereals to be overhauled in General Mills’ cereal lab.

So far, the company has tried hundreds of natural fruit, vegetable, and spice substitutes like tomatoes, purple carrots, and turmeric in place of Red 40, Yellow 6, Blue 1, and other artificial dyes particularly common in kids cereal. The company is the first major U.S. cereal maker to systematically substitute artificial ingredients for natural alternatives. The voluntary removal is a reaction to educated consumer demands.

“Consumers increasingly want the ingredient list for their cereal to look like what they pull out of their pantry,” Jim Murphy, president of General Mills U.S. cereal business, told the Star Tribune. “The look is important. People taste with their eyes sometimes.”

The company is well aware consumers don’t want nutrition labels to list “colors with numbers and ingredients you can’t pronounce,” Murphy said. It also chose the order of cereals it would overhaul carefully. Cereals like Lucky Charms and Count Chocula have marshmallows that it said would be hard to reformulate into natural colors without losing the taste of the original recipe. Swapping artificial ingredients should be “imperceptible” to consumers, Murphy said.

Tampering with consumer favorites is risky because any tweak could result in consumers rejecting the products, and the possibility of losing consumer loyalty. By the end of 2016, General Mills plans on having no artificial ingredients in 90 percent of its cereal brands. According to the company, 60 percent of its cereals don’t use any artificial colors or flavors and won’t need to undergo any changes. General Mills’ only rival down the cereal aisle is Kelloggs — with each company owning about 30 percent of the nation’s cereal market.

Tricking Trix Lovers

"We wanted to make sure they were still fun, vibrant colors that we are providing and the fruity flavor that kids expect," Kate Gallager, General Mills cereal developer, told Good Morning America. “Trix is known for color, so this hit Trix pretty hard. It didn’t deliver the brighter color and it was imparting a flavor we didn’t want.”

Trix is a blend of sweetened corn puffs with various red, yellow, orange, purple, green, and blue artificial dyes. The new naturally-colored Trix cereal will be made with mixes of yellow-spiced turmeric, and juice concentrations extracted from radishes, strawberries, and blueberries. The company still hasn’t nailed down how to replicate green and blue naturally, so it has decided to simply leave the colors out.

General Mills began concocting natural cereal replacements two years ago. Reformulations with such a vast array of cereals wide can be expensive, but the company said it’s an investment into the trending consumer demand — an investment that Murphy believes will eventually pay off without a question.

Why did consumers drive the demand for artificial ingredients to be eliminated in the first place? For more than 40 years, scientists have been honing in on the link between food coloring and hyperactive behavior in children. The Food and Drug Administration is the gatekeeper, regulating color additives to ensure foods with coloring are accurately labeled and do not lead to any unwanted side effects, such as hyperactivity.

After looking into anecdotal claims, the FDA concluded at an advisory committee meeting that “behavioral responses to a food, food component, additive flavor, or AFC [artificial food coloring] appear to depend upon the individual.” It turned the responsibility onto the consumer by referencing labeling requirements, which mandate companies to provide information in order, “to identify ingredients and enable personal avoidance.”

The FDA’s data found “food intolerance or hypersensitivity in certain children” after consuming some artificial ingredients, yet it did not require companies to pull the ingredients from their products. Since the 1970s, dozens of studies have been published demonstrating how food dyes and other artificial ingredients cause adverse behaviors in children, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest. In 2012, one of the biggest food studies found that when artificial dye was excluded from children’s diets, it reduced symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in 33 percent of children with the disorder.

After the British Food Standards Agency advised consumers to eliminate food dyes from their children’s diets, all companies in the European Union with such ingredients began labeling foods that said, “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” Very few foods in the EU contain the dyes still used in the U.S.