'Old-school' Peanut Chews is back, with new packaging, ad campaign

The Philadelphia chocolate-and-peanut bar that started as a World War I ration is back — even though it didn't really go anywhere. Candy company Just Born announced that it has overhauled its Peanut Chews' brand image to better reflect its roots.

When it was first introduced in 1917, the chocolate bar was known as Goldenberg's Peanut Chews. Just Born bought the product in 2003 and fitted it with a new wrapper and a different logo and color scheme that no longer included the word "Goldenberg's." The company also introduced the product into national distribution. The revamped brand identity ultimately failed; consumers were confused, not realizing the Peanut Chews with the new packaging was their same old favorite candy bar, and sales plummeted.

Now, the brand is going back to its origins. The company has returned to the product's original regional, rather than national, growth strategy and has launched a new marketing and advertising campaign. New TV commercials by Machinery in Philadelphia were aired intermittently in Philadelphia from January to April, featuring fictional marketers informing participants that while the packaging has changed, the product remains the same.

One ad shows a middle-aged man who tries the candy and is suddenly transformed, complete with Kangol hat, baggy tracksuit and oversize gold chain. He announces the chocolate bar is "off the hook." (Click here to watch.) Another ad features a conservatively dressed middle-aged woman who bites into the candy and morphs into a 1980s-era aerobics enthusiast with a headband, big hair and neon spandex; she says the candy is "totally awesome." (Click here to watch.) Both ads conclude with a brand spokesman resembling Billy Dee Williams delivering the tagline: "Now that's chewin' it old school."

Starting Sept. 10, the commercials will air in Philly four times as often and will also be featured as online ads. The new Peanut Chews ads can also be found on billboards, bus shelters and on top of gas pumps in Philadelphia and southern New Jersey. The company also made a sponsorship deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, and the ballpark now displays ads saying "The only chew a player needs."

So far, the revamped brand image seems to be working. Peanut Chews reported that revenue for the 24 weeks ended June 10 was up almost 50% over the year-ago period. Today, about 60% of sales come from Philadelphia and 30% from New York, with the rest coming from limited national distribution through chains like Rite Aid and Cracker Barrel, as well as through online sales.

Just Born is also initiating an ad campaign in New York for the first time, with a Yankees sponsorship deal going into effect on Aug. 28. The deal involves a pennant giveaway that will feature the brand's logo, as well as 117 ads in and around the Yankee Stadium subway station on 161st Street. The company also plans on embarking on a campaign in Baltimore within the next couple of years.

Peanut Chews contain roasted peanuts at the center of the bar, held together with a molasses mixture, with a dark chocolate exterior. Unlike other popular peanut and chocolate bars, like Snickers, this one doesn't have nougat and is formed into eight bite-size pieces.

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