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.
To further enhance interest Walkers included within the bags a limited edition series of Star Wars Tazos. All in all there were fifty to collect with a Collector’s Force Pack binder to store them in. The original trilogy was covered by Tazos 1 – 39 while Tazos 40 – 50 covered the Special Editions and were only available in bags of Doritos (although only 5 of these final 10 Tazos featured artwork unique to the Special Editions). It was a huge success, marrying the collectability of the Tazos, the bags themselves and the high quality of Walkers crisps with the snacktastic magic of Star Wars. But what images were available on each packet? There was a choice of eight in all (the Star Wars logo, the Special Edition logo, Darth Vader, Chewie, Threepio, Artoo, Stormtrooper and the SE logo and TIE fighter) and each character was displayed on the following ranges and flavours (deep breath):
Star Wars Logo
- Doritos 3D’s
- 33g Doritos Cool Original, 33g Doritos sizzlin’ Barbecue, 60g Doritos sizzlin’ Barbecue “grab bag”, 33g Doritos Tangy Cheese, 35g Doritos Tangy Cheese, 60g Doritos Tangy Cheese “grab bag”, 175g Doritos Tangy Cheese “movie bag”, 6x33g Doritos 6 Tangy Cheese, 6x33g Doritos 6 (2 each of 3 flavors)
- 37g Double Crunch chargrilled steak, Double Crunch original, Double Crunch salted, 37g Double Crunch smoked cheddar, 30g Walkers Crisps Barbecue, 60g Walkers Crisps Barbecue, 175g Walkers Crisps Barbecue, Walkers Crisps Beef & Onion, 50g Walkers Crisps Beef & Onion, 27g Walkers Crisps Cheese & Onion, 175g Walkers Crisps Cheese & Onion, 30g Walkers Crisps Pickled Onion, 30g Walkers Crisps Prawn Cocktail, 30g Walkers Crisps Roast Chicken, 27g Walkers Crisps Ready Salted, 27g Walkers Crisps Salt & Vinegar, 60g Walkers Crisps Salt & Vinegar, 27g Walkers Crisps Smoky Bacon, 30g Walkers Crisps Spring Onion, Walkers Crisps tomato ketchup, 30g Walkers Crisps Worcester Sauce, 6x27g Walkers Crisps 6 pack (6 Barbecue), 6x27g Walkers Crisps 6 pack (6 Cheese & Onion), 6x27g Walkers Crisps 6 pack (6 Ready Salted), 6x27g Walkers Crisps 6 pack (6 Salt & Vinegar), 6x27g Walkers Crisps 6 pack (2 each of 3 flavors), walkers crisps 10 pack (3+3+2+2), walkers crisps 10 pack (kids’ choice), walkers crisps 15 multi pack, Walkers Classic Choice 10, 27g Walkers Crisps Crinkles Cheese & Ham, 30g Walkers Crisps Crinkles Cream Cheese & Chives, 27g Walkers Crisps Crinkles Roast Beef & Mustard, 6x27g Walkers Crisps Crinkles 6 pack, 26g Walkers Lites, Walkers Lites cheese & onion, Walkers Lites ready salted, Walkers Lites salt & vinegar, 6x26g Walkers Lites 6 pack.
- French Fries ready salted, French Fries salt & vinegar, French Fries worcester sauce, French Fries 6 pack (2 each of 3 flavors)
- Monster Munch beef burger, 40g Monster Munch flamin’ hot, 25g Monster Munch Pickled Onion, Monster Munch 6 bags Pickled Onion, Monster Munch 10 bags
- Quavers original cheese, Quavers original cheese maxi pack (sold at movie theaters only), Quavers 6 pack cheese, Quavers 10 pack cheese, Quavers salt & vinegar, Quavers tangy tomato, Quavers 10 mixed pack
Special Edition Logo and TIE fighter image
Wholesale boxes made of corrugated cardboard
- 36x35g Doritos Tangy Cheese, 24x60g Doritos Sizzlin Barbecue, 48 standard Walkers Crinkles, Cream Cheese & Chives, 48 standard Walkers Crinkles Roast Beef & Mustard, 48 standard Walkers Crisps Beef & Onion, 48 standard Walkers Crisps Cheese & Onion, 48 standard Walkers Crisps Roast Chicken, 48 standard Walkers Crisps Salt & Vinegar, 48 standard Walkers Crisps Smoky Bacon.
1999: Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace
Lining up their promotions during the six-week lead up to The Phantom Menace‘s UK release on July 16, 1999, Walkers Crisps went all-out to make the promotion their biggest yet, marrying their own ever-growing range with what was then the most anticipated release in motion picture history. Speaking to Marketing Magazine back on April 1, 1999, John Chatterton, senior brand manager for Walkers, noted that such media tie-ins were essential to the re-building of the Star Wars brand which in 1999 was aiming for a new and young audience to compliment the already strong and existing original trilogy fans. “There will be a tie-up promotion with a game card. Promotions like this are part of the fundamental building blocks of the brand — together with the quality of the product and the Gary Lineker (one of England’s greatest football players and now a veteran television sports presenter who has advertised Walkers Crisps since the mid-’90s) advertising.”
Chatterton also made mention of the many licensees who had hopped aboard the Episode I bandwagon, saying “There are well over fifty licensees — covering areas from kids’ clothing and stationery right through to crockery and food.” With Pepsico being the parent company of Walkers, the entire initiative was part of the infamous $2 billion dollar 1996 deal that saw Pepsi and it’s various brands advertising the Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition and Episode 1 in a deal that saw Taco Bell, Frito Lays, Pepsi, 7-Up, Burger King and more involved in the massive advertising campaign.
- 33g Doritos Cool Original, 33g Doritos Tangy Cheese, 33g Doritos ‘the big cheese’ & onion.
- Doritos 3D’s Tangy Cheese, Doritos 3D’s Texas Paprika, Doritos 3D’s Texas Paprika 6 pack.
- 34.5g MAX hard cheese & onion.
Jar Jar Binks
- French Fries Cheese & Onion, French Fries Ready Salted, French Fries Salt & Vinegar, French Fries 10 pack, 25g Monster Munch Cheesy, 25g Monster Munch Flamin’ Hot, 25g Monster Munch Pickled Onion, Monster Munch 10 pack, Quavers cheese, Quavers new cheese flavour 6, Quavers prawn cocktail, Quavers salt & vinegar, Quavers 10.
- 15p Sundog savoury popcorn “Cheesy Grin flavour”Sundog savoury popcorn 10 “Cheesy Grin” flavour.
- 25g Walkers Crisps Barbecue, 25g Walkers Crisps Barbecue, 34.5g Walkers Crisps Barbecue, 4.5g Walkers Crisps Beef & Onion, 25g Walkers Crisps Cheese & Onion, 25g Walkers Crisps Cheese & Onion, 34.5g Walkers Crisps Cheese & Onion, 34.5g Walkers Crisps Pickled Onion, 25g Walkers Crisps Prawn Cocktail, 25g Walkers Crisps Prawn Cocktail, 34.5g Walkers Crisps Prawn Cocktail, 25g Walkers Crisps Ready Salted, 25g Walkers Crisps Ready Salted, 34.5g Walkers Crisps Ready Salted, 25g Walkers Crisps Salt & Vinegar, 25g Walkers Crisps Salt & Vinegar, 34.5g Walkers Crisps Salt & Vinegar, 25g Walkers Crisps Smoky Bacon, 25g Walkers Crisps Smoky Bacon, 34.5g Walkers Crisps Smoky Bacon, 34.5g Walkers Crisps Tomato Ketchup, 25g Walkers Crisps Worcester Sauce, 34.5g Walkers Crisps Worcester Sauce, Walkers Crisps 18 packs.
- 24g Walkers Lites Cheese & Onion, 28g Walkers Lites Cheese & Onion, 24g Walkers Lites Ready Salted, 24g Walkers Lites Salt & Vinegar, 24g Walkers Lites Salt & Vinegar, 6 packs Walkers Lites Cheese & Onion, 6 packs Walkers Lites (2 each of 3 flavors).
Boxes 1999 snack food wholesale boxes, corrugated cardboard or thin cardboard
- 10 Bags Doritos 3D’s (blue), 40 Packs Doritos 3D’s Tangy Cheese (orange), 48 Packs Quavers new cheese
1999 Scratch Card Game
There were 25 in all, the same size and shape as the Smiths Food Group cards in Holland, but unlike their Dutch counterparts (which used the same images) the Walkers ones were unnumbered:
- Anakin Skywalker Naboo fighter goggles, Anakin Skywalker desert outdoors, Anakin Skywalker podrace goggles, Darth Maul bald glory, Darth Maul with hood and binoculars, Darth Sidious, Jar Jar Binks hand on mouth facing front, Jar Jar Binks hand on mouth facing sideways, Jar Jar Binks smiling, Mace Windu, Mace Windu with hood on, Obi-Wan Kenobi in spaceship, Obi-Wan Kenobi outdoors, Obi-Wan Kenobi with lightsaber, Padmé desert outdoors, Padmé indoors, Queen Amidala ceremonial, Queen Amidala horseshoe hair, Queen Amidala purple, Qui-Gon Jinn desert outdoors, Qui-Gon Jinn in spaceship, Qui-Gon Jinn with lightsaber, R2-D2, Sebulba, Watto
- Jar Jar Sticky Tongue Toy on card, Jar Jar Sticky Tongue Toy in 3-color plastic bag, sticky-tongue glow-in-the-dark Jar Jar toy, 1999 in-store promotional materials
- small standee (Jar Jar with hands up), SW203: poster (Jar Jar with tongue out), large standee, Jar Jar & Qui-Gon header, Jar Jar “Extra Sales” header, large dump bin
So, there’s your in-depth look at the range of products released by Walkers Crisps here in the UK for the Special Edition and Episode I. UK collectors certainly piled on the pounds as they chased down missing packs, scratch cards and Tazos but luckily those Walkers Crisps taste a whole lot better than rootleaf stew.
Images and Links Courtesy of:
- Marketing Magazine
- Star Wars Merchandise Wiki
- The Star Wars Collectors Bible
Mark is a long-time contributor to Star Wars Insider, is the co-owner of Jedi News, contributes to the UK’s biggest free newspaper The Metro and is the co-host of RebelForce Radio’s RADIO 1138 podcast. When he’s not talking or writing about Star Wars, he can usually be found sleeping, where he’ll most likely be dreaming about Star Wars.