Obscure Beloved Brands: Jasper Peanut Butter

Brand managers and marketers like to think they do it all. But the reality is that adept brand manager of a legacy brand sees forces out there, and takes advantage of the goodwill. It is not always necessary to create demand; instead the best practice for an older product is to see what consumers are doing, and building on that. With Google, one can even search for these sorts of strands of interest for free.

Take the example of Jasper branded peanut butter. We heard about Jasper from reader Sam H. Vance. He was catching up with a Navy submarine buddy who had been nicknamed Jasper because he looked like the Jasper on the peanut butter jar. It got him thinking. What happened to that brand of peanut butter?

It was either Jasper Spread or Jasper Peanut Butter, he says. He believes the brand was submarines only; most of the boats came out of Groton, Connecticut, but his boat was in Scotland when he recalls the brand, but it was based in Charleston, S.C.

All we could find out from our friend Google was that Jasper had other fans, including in the British Navy:

  • The blog Submarine Food Slang had a mention of it. “Little Jaspers – An obscure offbrand of peanut butter that got us through numerous NorPacs. Jasper was the little bear on the label. “
  • Another person online talked about Jasper, a “peanut butter higher in quality than JIF”

We could not find anything about Jasper on the USPTO Tess online service, or in the U.K.’s Intellectual Property Office, so readers will have to help us out with the product history.

But back to the idea of brands, and how they develop a following. Companies sometimes go to sophisticated lengths to invent people who love a brand. They try to steer it, or create new goodwill. But instead, they may well look at the people who are fans of the brand, to see what is valuable about it. From this email, I now have a marketing angle for peanut butter. The Sailor’s Favorite.

One otherĀ  point. People who are obsessed with products are not just collectors or enthusiasts. Like reader Vance, they are just normal folk who had a fun experience with a brand.

4 Comments

  1. I had Jasper Peanut Butter when I was on USS Charlotte. It had a picture of this evil looking little boy on the front of it. We had many a laugh about Jasper, but I can’t find the source of it.

  2. Please tell me what happened to howard johnsons corn toastees–I want to buy them all up if the brand is being disolved! thx

  3. I remember Jaspers peanut butter from being on board the USS Kittywake. They would put it out at mid rates at night. The company said they would let little Jasper try it and if he liked it they would approve it. The taste was not so good. I hated it because it was dry and terrible. I sat there saying “Jasper’s a sick dog” At any rate a complaining sailor is happy sailor.

  4. I stumbled on this website looking for a picture of the label to show a buddy. We had it in the early 90s on the USS Michigan out of the West Coast. We called it “Demon-child” Peanut Butter. We went a step further in that if you didn’t exorcise the demon he would get into the equipment and cause failures. Often Jasper’s head was removed from the jar.

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