The Force was strong -- and tasty -- with potato chips in the late '90s.
As every die-hard Star Wars follower knows, it's an increasingly hungry business being a Star Wars fan. Running around conventions worldwide, chasing down an ever expanding array of collectibles, playing with toys new and old, using your fertile imagination to act out Star Wars adventures -- it's energy sapping and the Force can only sustain a Jedi hunger for so long. Thank goodness back in the '70s someone decided it would be a good idea to release Star Wars-themed snacks and treats, starting with the first release and running all the way through to today. And what Star Wars crazy kid wouldn't want to nibble away on Star Wars themed munchies? We're going focus on two specific Walkers crisps (or chips as our American friends call them) promotions here in the UK, the '97 Star Wars Special Editions and The Phantom Menace from '99. Walkers Crisps, founded in 1948 in Leicester, England, by Henry Walker and later bought by PepsiCo, is one of the worlds largest producers of crisps making 11 MILLION bags per day and using over 800 tons of potatoes (sadly not including the ILM potato which forever roams the asteroid field from The Empire Strikes Back). Star Wars and savory snacks -- it's a better mix than Han and Leia, photon torpedoes and exhaust ports, and blue milk and Wookiee cookies.
1997: Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition
Travel back the best part of two decades and you'll find yourself in 1997, the year when the Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition was tearing up cinemas across the globe. In early '97 the Star Wars: Special Edition had broken the January box office opening record, bringing in a magnificent $35,906,661 during its first weekend, followed by Empire's $21,975,993 three weeks later and Jedi's $16,293,531 three weeks after that. With enhanced sound and visual effects as well as added scenes and a few surprises, it proved to the world that the hunger for Star Wars was as ravenous as it had been two decades before. Indeed, this very site was started in November 1996 to help market the Special Editions and was the first movie website to post video documentaries, beginning with the much-loved Anatomy of a Dewback.
Here in the UK, Walkers were bringing out a range of tie-in munchies that would run parallel with the films releases. Spending £15 million (in partnership with Britvic) on the campaign, Walkers released packs across their entire range using cartoon images that would hype the movies, attract buyers and pique the interest of Star Wars fans and collectors (who naturally would love to collect the numerous different bags and wrappers) as well as the casual buyers and fans.