Babybel is a brand of cheese sold internationally. The Bel Group introduced Babybel in 1952 and in 1977 Mini Babybel was launched in France. In 1979, Mini Babybel was launched in the U.S. under the Laughing Cow umbrella brand. As of 2011, Mini Babybel is sold in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Australia and Asia. As of March 2011, 75% of all Mini Babybel cheese is eaten outside of France.
Mini Babybel is known for its unique packaging which consists of a netted bag in which each piece of ellipsoid cheese is encased in wax, with an outer cellophane wrapper. Numerous flavors of Mini Babybel are offered across the world. The original Mini Babybel and US distributed Mini Babybel, an Edam variety, is encased in red wax. Other varieties offered in Europe are available such as Mini Babybel Light (diet version of the Edam variety) in red wax with a light blue label, Emmental in yellow wax, Gouda in yellow wax with an orange wrapper, Goat in green wax and Cheddar in purple wax. The original is also available in certified Kosher and Halal variety in the UK, which come in nets of 5 with each cheese wheel weighing 22 grams - slightly more than the original varieties. Tesco and Sainsbury's are the first major UK supermarkets to sell certified Kosher/Halal Mini Babybel ranges. The Kosher and Halal Mini Babybel for the UK market has now been discontinued. All are suitable for lacto-vegetarians, as they do not use animal rennet.
There are currently eight flavors offered in the US: Original, Sharp Original, Light, Bonbel, Cheddar, White Cheddar, Mozzarella, and Gouda. Original is wrapped in red, Light in white with light blue packaging, Bonbel in yellow, Cheddar in orange, Gouda in brown, Sharp Original in purple, Mozzarella in green, and White Cheddar in white with cream packaging.
Outside the U.S., an advertising jingle associated with the product plays on the lyrics of the song "Barbara Ann", written by Fred Fassert and recorded by The Regents, and later a hit for The Beach Boys. Use of said jingle started in France in the late 1970s and then emerged to other parts of Europe by the early 1990s. They tout the product as an "always on the go and ready for anything" snack cheese due to its red wax wrapper.
As of 2012, a recording of the song "Get in Line" by I'm from Barcelona has been used in their European adverts, where the band re-recorded the song with a children's choir.
In 2012 there was controversy over its promotional use of the French slogan "Des vacances de malade mental" ("having a mental holiday", or literally "holidaying like a mentally ill person") which was deemed offensive to people with learning difficulties or mental illnesses.
- Mini Babybel Home | The Laughing Cow
- Chrisafis, Angelique (8 August 2012). "Babybel maker apologises for 'clumsy' gaffe". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 28 November 2013.
- "Campaigners call for Babybel boycott after mental illness 'insult'". The Independent (UK). 9 August 2012. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
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