Wednesday, April 6, 2011


My husband sent me this NYTimes article about the sale of Pringles Potato chips for $2.35 billion. I found the whole article fascinating, mostly the part that explains just how non-food Pringles really are. The whole concept of them was really based on being able to use that container... what they were made of and how they tasted were all conceived around that. There's not a thing about Pringles that has anything to do with "food" except that you put them in your mouth and chew them. Thank you Andrew Martin for shedding more light on what it really means to be a "consumer."  

Once a Great Flop, Now Sold for Billions

In announcing the sale of Pringles on Tuesday, Procter & Gamble concluded what had been a tumultuous, sometimes zany, 50-year experiment in engineered food.

The $2.35 billion deal with Diamond Foods is also a milestone for Procter as it sheds its last food brand after having already sold Jif peanut butter, Folger’s coffee and Crisco shortening.

The company’s expertise in edible oils was used widely by the potato chip industry in the 1950s and 1960s, and shaped the invention of Pringles, the thinly sliced saddle-shaped crisp. Company officials still aren’t sure how the chips got their name, but one theory holds that two Procter advertising employees lived on Pringle Drive in Cincinnati and the name paired well with potato.

The creator of the famous Pringles can was so proud of his invention that he asked that his ashes be buried in one.

Yet Pringles, which is basically dehydrated potato flakes that are rolled and then fried, was not universally loved.

It was such a dud in its early years that some called for Procter to dump the brand. The brand did not take off until the company tweaked the flavor in 1980 and introduced the “Fever for the Flavor of Pringles” advertising campaign.

By the late 1990s, Pringles had become a $1 billion a year brand. On the television series “Ally McBeal,” Ally got into a grocery store skirmish with a woman over a can of Pringles.

“When I was there 30 years ago, it was dead,” said Charles Jarvie, vice president of Procter’s food division in the late 1970s. “It’s a great example where they just didn’t give up.”
(Read whole article.)

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