Many of the world's loved and respected brand icons are born through happenstance. This week we’ve picked 3 famous food brands and investigated the unusual stories behind their conception.
Heinz ‘57 Varieties’
You’d be right in thinking that Heinz must have more than 57 varieties today. In fact they sell more than 5,700 different products in 200 countries. So how did the claim come about and why did it stick?
Back in 1896, Henry John Heinz was riding a train in New York City when he noticed an ad for ’21 styles of shoes’. He thought it was a clever way to advertise the plethora of canned and bottled foods his companies sold under one banner. At that time the company already sold more than 60 items. The number 57 was literally born from 5 (his lucky number) and 7 (his wife’s lucky number). He owned the company, it was his prerogative ... and Heinz ketchup still carries this claim today though less prominently.
The Laughing Cow was born soon after World War 1. French cheesemaker Léon Bel had a lot of comté, gruyere and emmental cheeses left over and decided to melt them down to create a new type of cheese.
In 1921 he noticed a meat truck go passed nicked name ‘Wachyrie’ after ‘Valkyries’ the creatures from Norse mythology that determine victors in battle. Considering it a relevant association Bel created the pun ‘La Vache qui Rit’ (‘The Laughing Cow’. He then commissioned Benjamin Rabier, a cartoon artist, to draw up the cow which has evolved into what it is today.
In 1925, Minnesota Valley Canning Company wanted to market its range of can peas. Unusually it came up with a grumpy grey gnome wearing a bearskin, stooping and scowling.
Realising that this was not the most relevant or consumer friendly face of the brand they soon hired an ad agency to revamp the mascot. It was none other than a young Leo Burnett who evolved the mascot into a friendly giant, painted him green, with a leaf strewn tunic, wreath and boots and called him ‘Jolly’ all in an attempted to make him more friendly.
The Jolly Green Giant was such a successful marketing campaign that the company actually changed its trading name to Green Giant.