Today I’ll be looking at the confectionery connections to Gremlins, both the 1984 Joe Dante-directed film classic as well as the Brown and Haley treat of the same name that preceded it – along with the time when the two came together back in 1984. [Including coverage of this Summer’s Gremlins Snickers tie-in.]
The Brown & Haley company introduced their Gremlins product to the market all the way back in the 1950’s. A chocolate/caramel/pecan treat, Brown & Haley’s Gremlins were a mainstay for the company if not a cash cow. By the mid-1970’s Brown & Haley’s Gremlins packaging looked like this:
According to the following news clipping, over the years sales for Gremlins would decline and in the early 1980’s Brown & Haley were considering retiring the brand when they caught wind of the upcoming Stephen Spielberg-produced Gremlins film.
Taking inspiration from the confectionery success Reese’s Pieces enjoyed thanks to their connection to the E.T. The Extra Terrestrial film, I suspect that Brown & Haley hoped for a similar injection of attention when they partnered up with Warner Brothers for a Gremlins promotion based on the lead Mogwai from the film, Gizmo.
Of course, Brown & Haley weren’t the only ones to get their hands on the license for Gremlins candy – Topps had their own take on the film’s characters.
Though Gremlins was a cinematic success that even spawned a sequel, it didn’t translate into much of a boost for the Brown & Haley treat of the same name. As best as I can tell, Brown & Haley’s Gremlins did not make it out of the 1980’s.
But you can’t keep a good pop-cultural film license down, and seemingly out-of-nowhere in 2013, Mars licensed the cinematic Gremlins for use in a Snickers promotion overseas.
I encountered the Gremlins promotion through an Eastern European Summer 2014 release consisting of a Snickers wrapper as well as two different laminated shelf-talkers.
The promotion incorporates the broader “You’re not yourself when you’re hungry.” campaign that Snickers has been using for the last few years, putting the focus entirely on the cinematic Gremlins as hungry alter-ego. They’ve even created neat-looking Gremlins-themed prizes.
All in all, it’s a pretty cool promotion – though a disappointment might be that the promotion isn’t available here in the United States and that the promotional Snickers wrappers feature no fun Gremlins imagery.
What we do get is a tiny Gremins logo, stuffed next to the small print packaging indicia:
It’s really a shame that more wasn’t done graphically on the wrapper as they could have done some great things with the Gremlins concept and the Snickers bar package design. But where they didn’t have fun with the Gremlins on the wrapper, they killed it with their commercial spot, which you can see here. It’s pretty fantastic:
These Gremlin wrappers join the other Spielberg-related confectionery film tie-ins I have in my collection like the aforementioned E.T. The Extra Terrestrial pieces as well as a couple Jurassic Park candy boxes and my prized The Goonies candy bar wrapper. Fun stuff all the way around.
And that’s everything I’ve got to share on Gremlins and their unexpected and long history with confection. Don’t feed them after midnight!
See you next time!