What Is a Butterfinger?
Butterfinger is a candy bar, invented by the Drew Seibold of Florence, Wisconsin, and was manufactured for marketing by Otto Schnering, which currently is manufactured by Nestlé. The bar consists of a flaky, orange-colored center—somewhat similar in taste and texture to peanut brittle—that is coated in compound chocolate.
The Curtiss Candy Company was founded near Chicago, Illinois, in 1922 by Otto Schnering, using his mother’s maiden name. He invented the Butterfinger candy bar in 1923. The company held a public contest to choose the name of this candy. (The name is a slang term used to describe a clumsy person, often in sporting events to describe an athlete who can’t hold onto the ball.)
In an early marketing campaign, the company dropped Butterfinger and Baby Ruth candy bars from airplanes in cities across the United States as a publicity stunt that helped increase its popularity. The candy bar also was promoted in Baby Take a Bow, a 1934 film featuring Shirley Temple.
In 1964, Standard Brands Inc. purchased the Curtiss Candy Company. It then merged with Nabisco in 1981. RJR Nabisco was formed in 1985 by the merger of Nabisco Brands and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. In 1988, RJR Nabisco was purchased by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. in what was at the time, the largest leveraged buyout in history.
In 1990, Nestlé, a Swiss multinational food and beverage company, bought Baby Ruth and Butterfinger from RJR Nabisco. When measured by revenues, Nestlé is considered the largest food company in the world. In 1990s, another form of Butterfinger bars was available called “BB’s.” Similar to Whoppers, they were roughly the size of marbles and sold in bags.
Butterfinger has become known for humorous marketing and a roster of memorably funny spokespersons, including Bart Simpson, Top Cat, Seth Green, Erik Estrada, Rob Lowe, and Jamie Pressly, its most recent and first female spokesperson.
Other memorable ad campaigns include counting down the end of the world or BARmageddon, with evidence such as the first-ever, QR-shaped crop circle in Kansas, a Butterfinger comedy-horror movie called “Butterfinger the 13th,” the first interactive digital graphic novel by a candy brand starring the Butterfinger Defense League, and several attention-grabbing April Fool’s Day pranks, including the renaming of the candy bar to “The Finger.”
With 2010 sales of $598 million, Butterfinger has become increasingly popular and has typically ranked as the eleventh most popular candy bar sold in the $17.68 billion United States chocolate confectionery market between 2007 and 2010.