Jif peanut butter ad, 1960
Do you recall Jif peanut butter launching as “Jiffy”? Apparently, this alternate memory is fairly widespread.
Discussing the history of peanut butter, PeanutButterLovers.com insists:
“1955: Procter & Gamble entered the peanut butter business, introduced Jif in 1958. Now owned by the J.M. Smucker Company, Jif operates the world’s largest peanut butter plant, producing 250,000 jars every day!”
I was raised with another brand of peanut butter, so I can’t be confident my “Jif v. Jiffy” memories are accurate. However, many readers clearly recall “Jiffy” as the original brand name.
(And, before anyone insists people are mixing it up with Skippy: I’m pretty sure the advertising has always made the difference clear.)
Here are some of the many comments about this topic.
On 23 Jan 15, Rick asked:
Does anyone else have a memory of the peanut butter brand Jif previously being called Jiffy? I recall having seen this change somewhere around the age of 10 (1989), and it sticks with me because even at that young age I actually considered that I may have jumped to a parallel universe. However part of the memory I’m not as sure of is discovering that it was in fact a name change by the company. At least this is what I’ve always thought until finding this website caused me to look that fact up. It seems that at least in this reality there was never a name change and it has always been Jif.
On 24 Jan, Chris said:
I have goosebumps about this one. I always remember it as “Jiffy” and commercials when I was young about how moms could whip up a sandwich “in a Jiffy.”
After Googling it, we aren’t the only ones who remember it as Jiffy.
Yes, I do remember. I was absolutely 100% sure it was Jiffy when I read your comments. Then I started questioning myself a little. I was born in 1964. My mom is pretty “brand loyal” and always had peanut butter in the house and it was always Jiffy, not Peanut Pan or Skippy. I had so many peanut butter sandwiches as a kid (no jelly, just PB) that I don’t even buy peanut butter now. I do have a vague memory of hearing/seeing “Jif” on a commercial and wondering why they had abbreviated it. I’m questioning myself because I read someone else’s comments on this on line and they mentioned “Jiffy Pop Popcorn” which we also had as a treat sometimes. Even though I am familiar with the company slogan, “Choosy moms choose Jif”, perhaps at one time they said, “Choosy moms choose Jiffy.” Jif on the bottle looks funny but more convincing to me is just the “sound memory” of the name “Jiffy” as a kid. I can’t be as sure of this alternate memory as I am of a few of my others, but I figure if the other changes are possible, this might be too.
At first glance I too thought it was called Jiffy as well, but after thinking about it I wonder if we are perhaps mixing up Jif peanut butter with Jiffy Pop popcorn?
In February 2015, deanna said:
yes ,not only do i remember “jiffy” being on the peanut butter label yet i remember the commercial said “choosey moms choose jif”
Julia did some research and reported:
I found some new information on the Jiffy / Jif peanut butter question. The man who created what is now called Jif Peanut Butter was William T. Young, who was from Lexington, Kentucky. He also bred horses , or at least he did after Jiffy Peanut Butter and other business ventures made him very rich. I found this out in a kind of backward way. I googled “Jiffy Peanut Butter” and came across a reference to a horse of the same name. Here is the horse’s pedigree.
I wondered who would own a horse with the name Jiffy Peanut Butter and I’m going to make a leap and say it was most likely Mr. Young, or someone familiar to him. If you look up William T. Young on Wikipedia, it says that he created W. T. Young Foods, which developed “Big Top” brand peanut butter, which was sold to Proctor & Gamble in 1955, and became Jif. However I found this link which shows a page from “Gambling in America, An Encyclopedia of History, Issues and Society.” I don’t know when the book was published, but from the text, it was before Young’s death in 2004. And it clearly states on page 209, that Young made a fortune developing, “JIFFY Peanut Butter.”
[Edited link: https://books.google.com/books?id=QAI9BgAAQBAJ&pg=PA209&lpg=PA209#v=onepage&q&f=false The book says: “Lexington, Kentucky, native William T. Young made a fortune developing Jiffy Peanut Butter and selling the brand to Procter and Gamble.” ]
…The name “Jif” on the label just looks weird and truncated to me, but none of my family remembered it being Jiffy. When I first noticed it, I thought it must be a name change, but supposedly not. But since there is evidence of “Jiffy Peanut Butter” having existed, it either really was changed, or there is “bleed-in” from the another reality…
dani feist said:
JifFY peanut butter.
I remember Jiffy and spouse as well but the spouse says it was a brand name change….?
Julia went the extra mile:
Fiona, Daniel and all ME friends,
A few days ago I found Jif’s website and used their email to send a question. I said I clearly remembered the peanut butter being called Jiffy etc. and even gave the information I had found written regarding Jif’s creator, Williams T. Young (not that I expected them to respond to that) and they actually wrote back and said,
“Thank you for contacting The J.M. Smucker Company regarding Jif® Peanut Butter. We appreciate your interest in our Company and products. In response to your inquiry, the name Jif® was chosen because it was easy to say, spell and remember. This is the only name we have used. It was nationally launched in the late 50’s as Jif®.”
(Smuckers bought Jif from Procter and Gamble, fyi.)
That gave me a great starting point for my own research.
Many sites that reference William T. Young also seem to talk about his brand as either Jiffy or Jif. However, Young’s biography at Overbrook Farm says, “Young returned to Lexington… and started a peanut butter company. Big Top peanut butter later became Jif after Young sold W. T. Young Foods to Procter & Gamble in 1955.”
So, according to his business, Young’s peanut butter became Jif after he sold the company.
(That doesn’t match the Sigma Alpha Epsilon website, which lists their late member as “William T. Young – Businessman, Founder and former CEO of JIF peanut butter, University of Kentucky.” However, that’s a different conflict: whether the company was JIF or Big Top or William T. Young Foods.)
Returning to the Jiffy question, the Bright Side of the News article (at the Wayback Machine) says about Steve Wilhite, inventor of the GIF, and how he pronounces that acronym:
Wilhite prefers the sound of JIF, as in Jiffy Peanut Butter which has been rumored to be a staple in a programmer’s diet.
Even Amazon allows the “Jiffy” name in some of their Jif listings… which may only suggest that a lot of people type in “Jiffy” instead of the actual brand name.
I tested this just entering “jif creamy peanut butter” in the search form, and it still came up as “Jiffy.” (However, that listing was created by a “Fulfilled by Amazon” seller, not Amazon itself. Clever marketing by that FBA seller!)
Also, Amazon lists “Jiffy” as a brand name (see screenshot on the right), but if you’re at Amazon and click on that link, it only returns the listing shown immediately above.
The Amazon listings only reinforce the confusion about the product name.
Still, it surprised me to see “Jiffy” in such popular use for Jif products.
Google ads confirm that by making use of the brand name “Jiffy.” (Any advertiser can choose search terms like this.)
However,the book Julia found isn’t the only reference in print using the “Jiffy” peanut butter brand name.
In a May 1996 article, Sports of The Times;Lukas Lives The Life Of Riley, The New York Times reporter Harvey Araton said about Jif’s creator, William T. Young:
Alongside the gracious but taciturn Young, Lukas lit up the winner’s circle. The owner’s claim to fame is having created Jiffy peanut butter.
That’s odd. Did the NY Times not fact-check? While errors do slip past them, now and then, most proofreaders would have caught the Jif/Jiffy transposition, unless the proofreader also thought it was Jiffy.
So, this is a quirky topic. I’m wondering if — as with the TAPS v. Ghost Hunters issue — we can’t be sure if it’s a Mandela Effect issue, or an early media error that was repeated and amplified by the audience.
I did a Google Image Search looking for any ad or product package for “Jiffy” peanut butter, and — so far — I can’t find one.
If you clearly recall the product label as “Jiffy,” or if you have other insights about this topic, I hope you’ll leave a comment.