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The U.S. rights to the brand were acquired by the Heublein Company, later passing on to Kraft Foods. Grey Poupon became popular in the United States in the late 1970s and 1980s as American tastes broadened from conventional American yellow mustards.
Maurice Grey was winning medals for his Dijon mustard machine in 1855. In 1860, he was awarded a Royal Appointment. He had developed a machine that dramatically increased the speed of production, but he needed financing, which he obtained in 1866 from Auguste Poupon, another Dijon mustard manufacturer. The Grey Poupon partnership produced their first mustard around 1866 in Dijon, France.
In 1946, the Heublein Company bought the American rights from the original company.
In 1970, the directors of Grey Poupon and of another Dijon mustard firm, André Ricard, having earlier bought the popular Maille-label, formed a conglomerate called S.E.G.M.A. Maille. Soon afterwards, the new company decided to phase out the Grey Poupon label in France. It is still, however, manufactured for export, and a small amount continues to be produced for sale at the historic Maille-Grey-Poupon boutique on the Rue de la Liberté in Dijon itself.
Grey Poupon Dijon and wholegrain mustard is still produced in France for the European market.
Heublein increased the visibility and name recognition of their mustard brand with a 1980s commercial pointing out that "one can enjoy the finer things of life with white wine mustard" without paying high prices, in which a Rolls-Royce pulls up alongside another Rolls-Royce, and a passenger in one asks "Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon?" The other responds, "But of course!" The closing shot is of the Grey Poupon jar being passed between the vehicles. In one variation, the characters are on the Orient Express.
The commercial spawned a number of variations, often comedic; a later version features Ian Richardson asking Paul Eddington if he has any Grey Poupon, to which Eddington replies, "But of course", then motions for his driver to speed away. Another commercial included the introduction of a plastic squeeze jar, wherein the jar makes embarrassing noises while extracting the mustard, much to the mortification of the driver.
In 2013, Grey Poupon created a new advertisement, playing upon the 1980s commercial, displaying a duel between the driver who took the Grey Poupon Jar (played by British actor Frazer Douglas) being chased down by the mustard's original owner (played by Rod McCary). The spot was nominated for an Emmy for best commercial.
In 2007, Grey Poupon/Kraft company introduced three new specialty mustards: a coarse ground mustard with whole mustard seeds, a spicy brown mustard with diced yellow onions, and a honey mustard with clover honey and spices.
In popular culture
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The "Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon" commercials have been parodied in many films and TV shows, including Wayne's World (1992), Married... With Children's "Old Insurance Dodge", WWE RAW and Family Guy's "Blue Harvest" (September 23, 2007).
In the 21st episode of the 18th season of the Simpsons, Bart Simpson makes a Poupon graffiti of Principal Skinner.
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- Mail, Sharon (2009). We Could Possibly Comment: Ian Richardson Remembered. Leicester: Troubadour Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84876-184-1.
- Grey Poupon Squeeze. YouTube. 5 October 2007.
- "Ads Up For Emmy For Best Commercial - Business Insider". Business Insider. 18 July 2013.
- Malcolm Gladwell article describing the brand's rise in the U.S.A.
- YouTube video of the advertisement