|Product type||Cheese puffs|
|Previous owners||Golden Wonder|
Wotsits is a British brand of cheesy flavour corn puffs sold by Walkers Crisps and originally by Golden Wonder. The most common form are cheese flavoured curly shapes. However, over the years, various other shapes and flavours have also been sold. "Limited edition" Wotsits have also appeared on more than one occasion. The brand was stretched into Whopping Wotsits, Weenie Wotsits, Wotsits Wafflers as well as frozen Wotsits. All came into the market under Golden Wonder's ownership managed by Nigel Parrott between the years 1993 and 2002.
The brand name occurs in the singular, "Wotsit", referring to an individual corn puff. It is an allusion to the slang term "whatsit", to which it is phonetically identical. Wotsits packaging often come with a joke or trivia section on the back. The brand was the first to introduce inserts into its packs in 1994, with the insertion of "Pogs". It also inserted merlin football stickers and other inserts aimed at 11-year-old boys. The brand was advertised with the strapline "you only get a whoosh with a Wotsit" between 1994 and 2002 following a campaign designed by JWT of a play on words.
Another variety of Wotsits were "Mealtime Potato Shapes", made from potato and cheese and meant to be baked in the oven.
In 2002, Golden Wonder changed hands and sold off Wotsits to Walkers. Prior to this, Walkers sold the similar American product Cheetos, which was considered a rival in the UK market. Walkers relaunched Cheetos in the UK in 2015 and both brands are sold together. Under Walkers the brand was relaunched in the flavours it was sold in during the Golden Wonder era (Cheesy (renamed to Really Cheesy), BBQ Beef and Prawn Cocktail) but the other brands were discontinued.
Wotsits were one of the sponsors of SMTV Live (alongside other Walkers snacks such as Monster Munch and Squares) from 4 January 2003 until the show's discontinuation on 27 December 2003.
In 2003, the advertising agency Abbott Mead Vickers made a public apology when the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health brought to light a private brief that it had made to Frito-Lay (Walkers' owners) where it proposed encouraging children (4 to 9 years old) to believe that "Wotsits are for me—I'm going to buy them when I get the chance and pester Mum for them when she next goes shopping".
In 2005, Walkers launched Wotsits Twisted in BBQ and Really Cheesy flavours, which contained twists of corn. They didn't end up being very successful and vanished after a few months on the shelves. In the same year a Flamin' Hot flavour replaced BBQ Beef in the main packs.
In 2007, Walkers changed the packaging for all their snack products, which were Quavers, Wotsits, Squares, French Fries and Monster Munch. This packaging reflected the usage of Sunseed Oil, which was used in all products. The Multipack bags were in a different layout, being in Landscape style. In 2008 Wotsits were changed from being fried to baked instead.
In 2009, Wotsits, Quavers, Squares and French Fries changed packaging again to show they have 100 Calories or less. Wotsits had 95 calories in multipack bags and 99 calories in standard bags at the time. In 2012 the Walkers logo was re-added again and the brand has simply been sold in Really Cheesy flavour.
A limited edition version Zombie Fingers was put on sale for Halloween in 2013 and has returned at following Halloweens. These come in Flamin' Hot flavour and are longer and curlier than normal Wotsits.
- The Wonder of potato, Catering Update via caterersearch.com. Article dated 1 November 2000, retrieved 21 January 2007.
- archive.theargus.co.uk; article dated 28 May 2002, retrieved 27 October 2006.
- publications.parliament.uk, retrieved 27 October 2006. (Note: These contain the referenced information, but are not necessarily the sources used by the original author.)
- "PRELIMINARY ANALYSIS OF FOOD INDUSTRY ADVERTISING DOCUMENTS", Written evidence, UK Parliament Select Committee on Health