Birds and pickles go together like peanut butter and jelly—wait, what? Crazy as it may seem, the Vlasic Pickle company felt that was the case and chose a stork to represent their brand in 1974. Some 40 years later, the ubiquitous mascot doesn’t seem so weird anymore. But what prompted Vlasic to choose a stork in the first place?
First, a little background: a Croatian man by the name of Frank Vlasic immigrated to the US in 1912 to try to create a better life for his family. Taking a factory job and settling down in Detroit, Frank scrimped and saved until he had enough money to start his own creamery. He eventually turned it over to his son Joe, who expanded the business to include pickles.
During the economic boom after World War II, the Vlasics could hardly keep up with the sizable pickle demand. Although they still sold cheese products, the real moneymaker was the innovative idea to sell their Polish pickles in glass jars.
What does all of this have to do with a stork? According to the Vlasic website, the spokesbird was chosen in 1974 to “deliver pickles since babies were in such short supply!” The national birthrate was dropping around this time, and Vlasic took this opportunity to capitalize on the trend. Taking the classic stork mythology and combining it with the belief that pregnant women crave pickles, they created one killer marketing campaign.
Today’s stork (who may or may not be named “Jovny”) speaks like comedian Groucho Marx and holds a pickle like a cigar: