It might not be as important as the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage ruling, Caitlyn Jenner posing in Vanity Fair, or Apple CEO Tim Cook's coming out, but the LGBT community is about to notch another achievement in the long road to mainstream recognition. It's a small one—small and tasty, actually.
Goldfish crackers are going gay.
Well, gay-friendly, at least. Starting this summer, select packaging of the Pepperidge Farm snack will feature a new logo of multicolored fish (a reference to the rainbow flag that signifies the diversity of the gay community.) Already a sponsor of the pride parades in New York and Philadelphia, this year Goldfish will also underwrite the parades in Cincinnati, the Twin Cities and Norwalk, Conn. Overall, the company has pledged to double its pride-related activities.
Flying the rainbow flag makes good business sense for the snack brand. Goldfish is the No. 1 cracker brand with kids, and more and more same-sex couples are either adopting children or having children of their own.
"We're a kids brand, and families are the core of what we want the Goldfish brand to be about," Pepperidge Farm CMO Chris Foley told Adweek. "We've had a lot of success as sponsors of the pride parade, and we wanted to focus our investment."
To this end, Goldfish's longtime tagline "The Snack that Smiles Back" will be adopted to the hashtag #ForAllFamilies. Appearing on product samples and event signage, the hashtag will anchor a social media effort directed toward millennial-aged, same-sex households.
While support for the LGBT community has grown fashionable in the past few years, Pepperidge Farm and its parent, Campbell's Soup Company, already have a strong record of gay inclusivity, having scored 100 on the Corporate Equality Index and ranked by the Human Rights Campaign as one of the best places to work. And while Goldfish crackers can be found in 40 percent of American homes overall, the brand is in the cupboards of 44 percent of LGBT households.
The rainbow fish logo is actually one of three packaging updates for the Goldfish brand. Also coming to Goldfish's 30 or so varieties are three flavors made with organic wheat. Much like LGBT issues have gone from fringe to mainstream in recent years, Foley said, so have organic ingredients, and "we want to bring that option to families that buy organic." (Contrary to what the public may presume, those bright-orange fish crackers are actually natural—made with real cheese and without artificial colors—and now they'll be non-GMO, too.)
Also making its debut this summer is Dory the fish, a regal blue tang who'll star in the Pixar film Finding Dory and make a concurrent appearance on the Goldfish box. Pepperidge Farm's partnership with the Disney animation company is a first, but "it was a good fit for us because, well, we're a fish," Foley said.
With a $340 million domestic gross, Finding Dory's 2003 predecessor, Finding Nemo, did just swimmingly. Pepperidge Farm hopes the upcoming fish film will do the same. But regardless of the box office tickets, Foley believes the tie-in will further enhance the Goldfish brand's connection with families: Family film, family snack.
Whether or not Goldfish crackers benefit materially from these latest marketing efforts, they already occupy a prominent place in the nation's pantry. With 151 billion of the little salted crackers scarfed down annually, Goldfish crackers are very popular in America—even though they're not originally American.
It was Swiss biscuit company Kambly that first developed the Goldfish cracker in 1958, selling it under the name Goldfischli ("little goldfish"). Four years later, Pepperidge Farm founder Margaret Rudkin was traveling through Switzerland, nibbled on some Goldfish, and took the recipe back to the U.S.
It was here that the goldfish acquired their cheesy flavor, orange color and modern marketing accouterments—specifically, a smiling, sunglasses-wearing mascot named Finn, who made his TV debut in 2005.
There's no word on whether Finn himself might come out of the closet but, judging from the new packaging, it's at least clear he has a lot of gay friends.