Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,165 pages of information and 245,632 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Bisto

From Graces Guide
1896. Advertisement for Bisto Flour issued by Cerebos.
Advertising Sign.
1945.
April 1946.
1947.
December 1954.

The very first Bisto product, in 1908, was a meat-flavoured gravy powder, which rapidly became a bestseller in the UK. It was added to customers' own gravies to give a richer taste and aroma. Invented by J. W. McRobert and G. H. Patterson, who worked at the Cerebos salt works; they soon persuaded their employer to start making Bisto commercially; it was named "Bisto" because it "Browns, Seasons and Thickens in One".

Note: Is the origin of the name correct? In 1896 Cerebos were advertising 'Bisto Flour' to produce white bread so they already had the Bisto name for another product.[1]

1919 the 'Bisto Kids' (created by cartoonist Wilf Owen) were introduced to promote the product; these figures appeared in newspapers and soon became popular. Bisto is notable both for the age of its brand and for the advertising campaigns it has used. Although the Bisto Kids have not been included in Bisto advertising for many years, many people still recognise them; the Bisto Kids, a boy and girl in ragged clothes, would catch the odour of Bisto on the breeze and exhale longingly, "Aah, Bisto!" This clever gambit was intended to capture the all-important "Oliver Twist" (or "urchin") segment of the working-class market. The Bisto Kids were also part of more elaborate advertising campaigns in later years.

1968 Cerebos was acquired by Ranks Hovis McDougall

1979 Bisto Granules were introduced. The granules dissolve in hot water to form a gravy substitute. This product capitalised on the growing preference among British consumers for foods (or food substitutes) that can be quickly and conveniently prepared.

The famous red packets are the "favourite" flavour, purportedly beef flavour (although it contains no beef). Bisto also comes in varieties to accompany chicken, turkey, lamb, and other meats.

During the 1980s, the company released a series of commercials in the UK which featured a song that included the recurring phrase, "Never in a month of Sundays".

The company sponsors the Bisto Book of the Year Awards in the Republic of Ireland.

In 1991, Bisto launched a new, more expensive, beef-like granule. Packaged in a glass jar, it offered a fuller flavour than the standard granule. Fuller flavour chicken and onion variants were added in 1993, and the whole range was relaunched as Bisto Best.

More recently, a ready-made Bisto "Heat And Pour" gravy has been available in beef and chicken flavours. This comes in plastic pouches suitable for heating.

In 2004, Bisto diversified into chilled and frozen products by introducing Bisto Roast Potatoes, Bisto Crispies, Bisto Yorkshire Puddings and Bisto Frozen Mashed Topped Pies.

Bisto also makes a range of sauces, including white sauce, cheese sauce, curry, and parsley sauce in granulated form, as well as a range of casserole sauces, all in glass jars.

As of 2005, Bisto Gravy Granules dominate the British market, with a share in excess of 70%.

The latest campaign for Bisto, encourages families to sit up at the table for one night a week to eat proper food. This advertising campaign has seen support from unlikely sources such as Vicars and Politicians. Its rare for an advertising campaign to have a social message, as well as encouraging more sales of a product.

2007 Acquired by Premier Foods when it bought Ranks Hovis McDougall to form the largest UK food manufacturing company.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Newcastle Evening Chronicle - Saturday 12 December 1896