First Colorful Peanut Butter Pail Drew
Attention Of The Youngsters
In the early 1900s, peanut butter was stocked in bulk at the general store. An order was filled by scooping it out of a large tub and into a cardboard carton. It was hard to keep the consistency right, and despite its nutritional value, it did not sell well.
For a period, until about 1920, it was also sold in glass jars. This still did not make peanut butter popular.
Then, about 1920, someone devised the idea of packaging peanut butter in tin pails, with colorful designs. these were an instantaneous success. Mothers easily succumbed to their children’s requests to buy what was in the pails.
The pails weren’t foolproof, however. Some poorly made ones leaked. Drippy peanut oil did not suit customers and sales suffered.
The problem was resolved in two ways A better container was made by some manufacturers, such as the New Leaktite Peanut Butter pail, in 1925.
The second technique was treating the peanut butter itself. A hydrogenation process stopped oil separation by producing a solid fat. The inventor, J.L. Rosefield, called his product Skippy. Another brand that claimed an improvement by hydrogenation was Peter Pan.
Among the colorful tins made in this 1920s to 1930s period were those of the Peter Rabbit series. Artist Harrison Cady illustrated the Thornton Burgess books of this mischievous rabbit on several pails. A Cady-decorated pail is a strong favorite with collectors.
The tin pail manufacturers frequently sold their cans to several different food companies. They were then personalized with the purchaser’s brand. It is not unusual to find the same pictorial design on pail of two different brands of peanut butter.
A few pails were not “pail shaped.” A trapezoid shape was used by several companies and one company, Advo, packed peanut butter in a measuring cup, with the handle tucked inside until the peanut butter was used.
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