During post-war rationing, Henry Walker, a butcher in Leicester, saw his sales significantly drop as meat became harder to come by and people were forced to save their pennies. His family business, Walkers & Son, started looking at alternative products to fill the increasing sales void.
At the time, a certain snack – lightly salted crisps – were becoming popular, because of their affordability and value in a dismal post-war England. By the end of the ‘40s there were nearly 800 small businesses making crisps.
Henry decided to try and capitalise on this trend, so began to hand-slice and fry potatoes to make his own take on the snack – what we know today as Walkers crisps.
They were a hit.
By the time meat rationing ended in 1954, Henry Walker had grown a hugely successful sideline in crisps, with the slogan reflecting the high-quality product: ‘Potato Crisps by Walkers: Guaranteed Absolutely Pure.’
Expanding the range
When packaged crisps first came about, small sealed salt bags within the crisp packets were included so that the public were able to decide their own salt to crisp ratio.
However, this all changed during the ‘50s when technology was developed which allowed seasoning to be applied directly to a crisp. This opened the door to a whole new world of crisp flavours.
Walkers began to expand their range to reflect the nations tastes: Cheese & Onion – celebrating the countries’ love of Ploughman’s; Salt & Vinegar – inspired by the nation’s love of fish and chips; Prawn Cocktail – paying tribute to the iconic starter; and Roast Chicken – based on Brits love of a traditional roast.
And they clearly knew their stuff, as these flavours still make up our core range of Walkers today, with Cheese and Onion remaining our most popular flavour.
By 1989 Walkers had found a home at PepsiCo.
Since then we’ve remained committed to capturing great British flavours, from launching Beef & Onion to Marmite. And while we’ve grown, we’ve kept to our roots in Leicester, so that now we’re producing 8 million bags of classic Walkers crisps every day in the biggest crisp factory in the world.
Stay tuned… To celebrate Walkers 70th, we will be sharing more stories about the history of Walkers – including some of our Walkers Heroes.