|Owner||Nestlé (since 1990)|
|Related brands||Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Clark Bar, 5th Avenue|
|Previous owners||Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (1988-1990)|
|Tagline||Crispety, crunchety, peanut-buttery!|
Butterfinger is a candy bar created in 1923 in Chicago, Illinois by Otto Schnering, which currently is manufactured by Nestlé. The bar consists of a crispy core of creamy peanut butter blended with sugar candy in chocolatey coating. Butterfinger has become known for humorous marketing and a roster of memorably funny spokespersons, including Bart Simpson, Top Cat, Seth Green, Erik Estrada, Rob Lowe, and Jamie Pressly, its most recent and first female spokesperson. Other memorable ad campaigns include counting down the end of the world or BARmageddon, with evidence such as the first-ever, QR-shaped crop circle in Kansas, a Butterfinger comedy-horror movie called “Butterfinger the 13th,” the first interactive digital graphic novel by a candy brand starring the Butterfinger Defense League, and several attention-grabbing April Fool’s Day pranks, including the renaming of the candy bar to “The Finger.”
With 2010 sales of $598 million, Butterfinger has become increasingly popular and has typically ranked as the eleventh most popular candy bar sold in the $17.68 billion United States chocolate confectionery market between 2007 and 2010.
The Curtiss Candy Company was founded near Chicago, Illinois, in 1922 by Otto Schnering, using his mother's maiden name. He invented the Butterfinger candy bar in 1923. The company held a public contest to choose the name of this candy. In an early marketing campaign, the company dropped Butterfinger and Baby Ruth candy bars from airplanes in cities across the United States as a publicity stunt that helped increase its popularity. The candy bar also was promoted in Baby Take a Bow, a 1934 film featuring Shirley Temple.
In 1964, Standard Brands Inc. purchased the Curtiss Candy Company. It then merged with Nabisco in 1981. RJR Nabisco was formed in 1985 by the merger of Nabisco Brands and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. In 1988, RJR Nabisco was purchased by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. in what was at the time, the largest leveraged buyout in history.
In 1990, Nestlé, a Swiss multinational food and beverage company, bought Baby Ruth and Butterfinger from RJR Nabisco. When measured by revenues, Nestlé is considered the largest food company in the world.
Nestlé advertising campaigns
Two of the slogans currently used to advertise the candy bar are "Follow the Finger" and "Break out of the ordinary!" Prior to these, Bart Simpson, Homer Simpson, and other characters from Fox's The Simpsons, appeared in numerous advertisements for the product from 1988 to 2001, featuring the slogans "Nobody better lay a finger on my Butterfinger!", "Bite my Butterfinger!", and "Nothin' like a Butterfinger!"
Butterfinger, for unknown reasons, terminated a long-standing advertising contract with The Simpsons in late 2001. Reacting to this, the January 2002 Simpsons episode "Sweets and Sour Marge" included a scene depicting Butterfinger bars as nonflammable; the character Chief Wiggum says, "Even the fire doesn't want them."
In February 2003, in the episode "Barting Over", Bart claims he does not recall being in any commercials in the past, and then eats a Butterfinger just as he did in the commercials. In the November 2014 episode Simpsorama, a crossover with Futurama, Butterfingers are used to lure the Bart creatures into Madison Cube Garden.
On April 1, 2008, Nestlé launched an April Fool's Day prank in which they claimed that they had changed the name of the candy bar to "The Finger", citing consumer research that indicated that the original brand was "clumsy" and "awkward". The prank included a fake Web site promoting the change that featured a video press release. When the joke was revealed, the website redirected visitors to the fictitious "Butterfinger Comedy Network".
In 2009, a new advertisement for Butterfinger was produced that appeared to be a homage to the earlier The Simpsons commercials. In 2010, Butterfinger revived its "Nobody better lay a finger..." slogan as "Nobody's gonna lay a finger on my Butterfinger."
In 2011, a comedy horror film entitled Butterfinger The 13th, was made to promote the product. In April 2013, an official announcement via the Twitter account of The Simpsons stated that the "Nobody better lay a finger" advertising campaign featuring Bart Simpson would be returning.
Since 2014, Butterfinger has sponsored Top Cat on the Inscape Channel, signing a six-year contract with the network.
- Bites: A product with small, bite-sized pieces of Butterfinger is called Butterfinger Bites.
- Snackerz: Butterfinger Snackerz is another bite-sized, smooth-centered version of the candy bar.
- Mini: Starting in 1992, another form of Butterfinger bars was available called BB's. Similar to Whoppers and Maltesers, they were roughly the size of marbles and sold in bags. They also were advertised by the Simpsons. They were discontinued in 2006. In 2009, the product was brought back as Butterfinger Mini Bites.
- Buzz: During the height of the energy drink craze in 2009, a two-piece ‘king size’ version of the candy bar containing 80 milligrams of caffeine was released with limited distribution. The wrapper bears this warning: "Contains 80 mg per package (40 mg per piece), as much as in the leading energy drink. Not recommended for pregnant women, children or persons sensitive to caffeine."
- Ice Cream Bar: A product with an ice cream filling, the Butterfinger Ice Cream Bar, was introduced and continues to be sold in individual bags to this day. Another product similar to that of Butterfinger Ice Cream Bars, but shaped in a nugget form, also was developed and is now discontinued.
- Crisp: Nestlé also produces Butterfinger Crisp bars, which are a form of chocolate-covered wafer cookie, with a Butterfinger-flavored cream. This is part of a line of Nestlé products under a "crisp" name, including Nestlé Crunch Crisp and Baby Ruth Crisp.
- Cocoa mix: Nestlé released a hot cocoa mix with the flavor of the Butterfinger bar. The packaging advertises the cocoa as having a chocolate and peanut butter taste.
- Cups: In 2014, a product similar to Reese's Peanut Butter Cups was introduced by Nestlé, the Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cup, which unlike Reese's Cups, has both crunchy and creamy peanut butter and covers the mix with milk chocolate. It was the first new Butterfinger product introduced in more than five years. Nestlé spent two years developing the product.
Use by other manufacturers
A part of Edy's Fun Flavors line (Dreyer's west of the Rocky Mountains and outside the U.S.). The product is vanilla ice cream with a peanut butter swirl and bits of the Butterfinger candy bar in it.
Grocery store Kroger has a flavor in their "Jammed" line called Peanut Butter Candy Crunch that is a peanut-flavored frozen dairy dessert with Butterfinger chunks and a peanut butter swirl whose taste resembles that of the Butterfinger candy bar.
German GMO controversy
Butterfinger was withdrawn from the German market in 1999 due to consumer rejection when it was one of the first products to be identified as containing genetically modified ingredients (GMOs) from corn. Butterfinger sales ended after a successful campaign by Greenpeace pushed Nestlé to remove the product from German supermarkets.
Similar products, other manufacturers
- Clark Bar (from Necco)
- 5th Avenue (from The Hershey Company)
- Reese's Crispy Crunchy Bar: a product that includes peanuts and peanut butter (now owned by The Hershey Company)
- Zagnut: a similar product using toasted coconut instead of chocolate (from The Hershey Company)
- Chick-O-Stick: a rolled product using toasted coconut instead of chocolate (from the Atkinson Candy Company)
- Crispy Crunch (from Cadbury)
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