A blog by Adele James and Kate Downer
Completely untrue story: I went to the shop the other day to buy a bottle of Jif, only to find it had been renamed Cif. Perturbed, I went to buy a Marathon bar to cheer myself, to discover that this too had changed: it’s now called a Snickers.I lamented to the shop assistant that the rebranding of consumer household goods was disorienting, confusing. It was like the rug had been pulled from under my feet, leaving me to doubt my own childhood memories when Opal Fruits were Starburst, and the world was a simpler place. ‘Wait ‘til you find out about Immac,’ she said, grimly.
Recently, we heard that Heinz Salad Cream is to face the same fate. The condiment’s salad days are over, sauces say, as it looks to become ‘Heinz Sandwich Cream’. The decision follows the finding that when it comes to UK consumers, only 1 in (14%) actually use the sauce on salad. The move should appeal to younger shoppers. If nothing else, it’s got us talking about salad cream. Which, let’s face it, was probably the intention.
The response to the move has been one of national outrage. A cursory glance on Twitter tells us that people are in shock, awe, experience disgust… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg (lettuce. I’m so sorry. I can’t stop.) A ‘Save our Salad Cream’ petition (@SaveSaladCream)
been set up, so devastated Salad Cream fans can sign up and have their voices heard. Even The Daily Star has got involved, asking grocers to keep their own-brand versions as Salad Cream.
So why do we get so upset when a product changes name? I guess it’s got a lot to do with disruption to our own associations with that product. The salad cream we knew and took for granted for so long (well, apart from in 1999 when Heinz threatened to ditch it) has suddenly been called into doubt. We feel it so keenly with a product like Heinz Salad Cream because it’s an emotional brand – one that establishes a connection with us (in most cases, with our past, because it’s a product we remember eating years ago), and gives us an experience that touches our emotions. It’s a product we love, but can’t rationalise our love for. So our response to a perceived ‘withdrawal’ or ‘removal’ is irrational too. As human beings, we are loss-averse: we hate losing more than we like winning, and we feel like we’re losing something that we’re emotionally close to.
Do you like salad cream? Do you feel positive towards it? Do you use it in lieu of mayo in a prawn cocktail? In fact, we’re curious: do you still make prawn cocktails? Do you remember how you felt when you first saw the salad-cream-on-old-pizza advert in the early noughties? The product is still on sale, still tastes the same, and still goes well in a cheese sandwich. It’s salad cream, but not as we know it – and crucially – not as we think of it.
We’ll get over the shock, I’m sure. We still buy Charmin, Oil of Olay, Cesar dog food and Kit Kats (originally called Rowntree’s Chocolate Crisp, fact fans). From our perspective, Adele thinks that ‘cream’ and ‘sandwich’ just don’t go together. But let’s look on the bright side. It could have been ‘sandwich crème.’ Small mercies.