Jif (lemon juice)

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A Jif lemon

Jif is a brand of lemon juice sold in the United Kingdom and Ireland, by Unilever. Aside from its unique plastic lemon containers usually known as "jiffy lemons" or "jif lemons", it is also sold in bottles. A well-known advertising campaign introduced the catch-phrase "Don't forget the pancakes on Jif lemon day." due to the popularity of lemon juice (especially Jif[citation needed]) with pancakes on Shrove Tuesday.

The plastic lemon container and the idea of selling lemon juice in this way was conceived by Stanley Wagner, an ex-RAF fighter pilot and an early stalwart of the Frozen Food industry. His plastic lemon was made by a company in the telephone business, Shipton. Over the course of a ten-month period from mid-1955 to early 1956 more than six million of these lemons were sold, initially under the brand name "Realemon" and then after an objection by the then Board of Trade the name was changed to "ReaLem" and marketed with the slogan "juice in a jiffy".

At the same time a company called Hax was marketing tomato ketchup and brown sauce in plastic containers for restaurant tables. After a long argument about plastic containers the two protagonists agreed that they would not compete. ReaLem would market lemon juice and would not enter other plastic container markets.

Reckitt and Colman approached Stanley Wagner to buy the business and after a very long negotiation a deal was concluded. A letter from Barclays Bank dated 21 June 1956 reads " Dear Mr Wagner, I have pleasure in enclosing two copies of the Draft for £......... credited to your account, which the Bank will be pleased if you will accept as a souvenir of this most successful transaction ".

All parties were delighted, Stanley Wagner with a substantial sum of money, for those days and a large profit from the six million lemons that had been sold, Reckitt's even more so because the negotiating team had permission to pay far more for the business than they were able to achieve.

No less happy were lemon farmers in Sicily who, for many years, whilst producing lemon oil had found little use for the juice. Now there was a rapidly growing market for their near-waste product.

Citation: "Frozen Foods" Journal of the Frozen Food Industry. February 1963

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