When I was in third grade my class took a field trip to Cummings Nature Center, a 900-acre preserve outside of Rochester, NY. The only thing I remember from the trip was learning where maple syrup came from. Walking around the forest seeing these metal spigots tapped into the sides of trees with large metal buckets hanging off of them. I imagined that I could run up to one of the trees, turn the tap and drink the sweet syrup straight from the tree. Maple syrup originated in the North East and is a bit of a big deal where I grew up, people can get pretty snobbish over it. While eventually I would be expected to become a maple syrup elitist as well, when I was young I wanted the talking bottle shaped like a person.
Mrs. Butterworth's Maple Syrup comes in distinctive bottles shaped in the form of a matronly elderly woman who is as sweet as the syrup inside her bottle. This woman goes by the name of, you guessed it, Mrs. Butterworth. Butterworth comes to life to tell children that she is the thickest, richest buttery syrup available. The use of a sweet motherly woman instead of an amped up cartoon character helps to play a couple of roles in creating a brilliant brand. First off, if you remember from our look at Skippy Peanut Butter, we trust our parents opinions. Although Mrs. Butterworth isn't anyones actual parent she does embody the good nature we want our parents to project, thus filling the role. Second, parents are more likely to trust a brand which embodies the core values that they themselves would like to project onto their children.
Mrs. Butterworth had a bit of a cult following of folk artists who would paint and dress up their bottles after use. The company even took advantage of this popularity in the 80's with a competition to dress up Mrs. Butterworth and send in a picture of your creation. You can still find a lot of these decorated bottles on sites like Etsy or at flea markets. Although they haven't gotten to the point where they are worth much as folk art they are still really interesting to see.
In 2007 Mrs. Butterworth was brought out of semi-retirement and began appearing in commercials after about a decade of being out of the lime light. About a year later she was at it again making a guest appearance in a Geico commercial.
Finally, I leave you with this little gem, a comment on one of the Mrs. Butterworth commercials on YouTube: "I was disappointed as a kid to find out that Ms. Butterworth didn't really talk. I was 5 at the time. My sis told me that she suffocated to death in the bag on the way home from the supermarket." Sir, your sister is awesome.