Walkers Crisps commercial from 1989.
In the 1880s Henry Walker moved from Mansfield to Leicester to take over an established butcher’s shop in the high street. Meat rationing after World War II saw the factory output drop dramatically and the company looked at alternatives to make use of the wasted capacity. With potato crisps being increasingly popular with the public, managing director R.E. Gerrard helped the company shift focus and began hand-slicing and frying potatoes.
Jon Walkers is now owned by Frito-Lay, which in turn is a subsidiary of Pepsico. It is still a significant presence in Leicester and sponsor Leicester City football team’s stadium, the Walkers Stadium. Gary Lineker, formerly a Leicester City footballer, is now the face of the company, starring in most of their advertising campaigns. The official website states that an estimated “11 million people will eat a Walkers product every day”. The company employs over 4000 people in 15 locations.
In 2000, Walkers’ 1995 advert starring Gary Lineker was named the 9th best television commercial of all time, in a poll conducted by The Sunday Times and Channel 4.
In February 2006, Walkers changed their brand label and typeset. They also announced they were to reduce the saturated fat in their crisps by 70%. They once again changed their packaging style in June 2007, rather similar to the logo used from 1998- 2006.
As of late 2006, the company has added nutrition values on the front of the Walkers crisps packets.
Many of Walkers brands were formerly branded under the Smiths Crisps name. This comes from the time when Walkers, Smiths and Tudor Crisps were the three main brands of Nabisco’s UK snack division with Tudor being marketed mainly in the north of England and Walkers in the south. After the takeover by Pepsico the Tudor name was dropped and the Smiths brand has gradually been phased out in favour of Walkers.
The only products currently retaining the Smiths brand are Salt & Vinegar and Ready Salted Chipsticks, Frazzles and the “Savoury Selection”, which includes Bacon Flavour Fries, Scampi Flavour Fries and Cheese Flavoured Moments.
In 1997, Walkers became the brand name of the Quavers and Monster Munch snacks.
In 2002 Walkers bought Wotsits from Golden Wonder.
In 2007 Walkers launched Sunbites, a range of crisps made using wholegrains.
Notably, Walkers package their cheese and onion crisps in blue packets, and salt and vinegar in green. This is the opposite to most other crisp manufacturers, such as McCoys Crisps and Golden Wonder’s traditional livery.