Newtons Aren’t Fruit and Cake (anymore)

While packing Raelyn’s lunch last night (she’s at YMCA day camp most of the Summer) I noticed a not-so-subtle branding change on the Fig Newtons packaging. Below is an artistic photo of the new wording, which reads: “Fruity Chewy Cookies”

Fig Newtons by turnthecity
Fig Newtons by turnthecity

Above: Fig Newtons by turnthecity

If you did any of your TV viewing during the 90’s, you’ll likely remember that Fig Newtons were being hocked thusly:

“A cookie is just a cookie, but a Newton is fruit and cake.”

Here’s an ad to refresh your memory. 4:48 mark:

Now I’m no nutritional anthropologist (thank you, Deb Duchon, Alton Brown and Good Eats) but I don’t think fig jam counts as fruit, nor that a baked crust counts as cake. More like pie.

Other, more learned scholars have made the point that Newtons are likely “squares” or “bars”, but I’ll leave that to you, gentle reader, to decide.

Whether or not the Newton is, in fact, “fruit and cake” or some kind of cookie or something else entirely shouldn’t actually matter. What matters is how quickly Nabisco has reversed course in their marketing and promotion.

Of course, I seem to be a couple of years late to both the new positioning AND mockery of the same. Still, I feel it’s my duty to point out the idiocy of changing course so dramatically.

But what do I know, right? Fig Newtons are still the only cookie/fruit-cake combo/bar/square on the market that either called Newton OR made of Fig. Their uniqueness of form, function and name seems to trump whatever marketing their laboring under currently.

I can’t help but draw the comparison to another food-stuff marketing catchphrase of the same era: Polaner All Fruit.

For those of you who don’t recall, much was made of the fact that as, you shouldn’t call Polaner All Fruit “Jelly” since it was better than all of that. It was, after all, “spreadable fruit” and not at all like lowly, common jelly.

Here’s the money shot of the spot:

So imagine if Polaner all of sudden relaunched calling themselves “Jelly” despite keeping the name All Fruit; wouldn’t make much sense, would it?

Granted, Newton is a nebulous descriptor not at all as recognizable or finite as “jelly” “fruit” or, more directly, “cookie” or “cake”‘. Still, the whole thing seems like a bait and switch to my younger, sweet-toothed mind.

A cookie, for all its benefits and joys, is just a cookie. A Newton – unique in all the snacking world – is fruit and cake.

Or at least it used to be.

Bonus linkage: Fruit and Cake (Fig Newton Song)

And, in the end, the Fig Newton you take, will always be fruit and cake (with apologies to The Beatles).

4 thoughts on “Newtons Aren’t Fruit and Cake (anymore)

  1. These look a lot like ‘Jacobs Fig Rolls’, which we have here in the U.K. and Ireland. It they are, then the correct term for them is, of course, ‘biscuits’.

  2. Chance Harper says:

    I think you miss the point of this commercial its a parody of Grey Poupon commercials basically. Newtons have always been marketed as fruit chewy cookies.

  3. Al says:

    The other day I was in Trader Joe’s and saw a cookie/fruit and cake that looked much like a Fig Newton. The name emblazoned across the package said, “So this Fig walks into this Bar”.

  4. Thanks for linking my video at the end of this article! We recorded the song in 1995 in my friend’s dorm room on a cassette tape (which is why the quality is amazing!). i made this video in 2008. I still love Fig Newtons and eat them frequently.

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