23 February, 2009

Sealtest Chipnics - A Blast From The Past

I was going through some old promotional cookboods, when I found this advertisement for Sealtest Chipnics.

Chipnics, introduced in 1964, were the very first crispy potato chip-like snack. They were marketed in boxes instead of bags, and Sealtest called them "Homogenized Potato Chips."

They proved to be so popular that within five years, Chipnics had three competitors: Chipos, made with potato and rice flour, by General Mills; Pringles by Proctor & Gamble; and Munchos by Frito-Lay. Pringles, with their stackable shape, unique packaging, and masterful marketing, quickly became the market leader, leaving Chipnics and Chipos to quietly fade away. Munchos are still available, but Frito-Lay doesn't advertise them very much and they are a distant second in the "potato crisp" category.

You might notice that all of these brands were originally sold and labeled as "potato chips." This marketing angle was hotly contested by traditional potato chip producers, who eventually won out and forced "homogenized chips" to be labeled in the US as "potato crisps" instead. Proctor & Gamble fought long and hard against that ruling, even going so far as presenting proof that Pringles were "nutritionally identical" to regular chips.

Of course, forty years later it hardly matters - Pringles are one of P&G's most popular brands, enjoyed by people around the world. And it all started with some knucklehead eating chips in a sauna.



Anonymous said...

Does anybody recall TV commercials with Betty White promoting Chipnics?

M. L. Valenti said...

Crazy you should ask. I remember the B. White Chipnic commercials from the 60's. We were just discussing potato chips in our office and I mentioned Chipnics because I loved them. No one else had ever heard of them, even though most of us working together are from the same town. I had to google Chipnics to prove to my co-workers they were real.