By: Brigitta Szeibert
Most people would agree food is more than molecules that provide essential nutrients for the human body. The psychological and emotional impact of food on well-being suggests food affects us in more ways than we realize or can even imagine. One psychological component of food involves memory. A study published in Annual Review of Anthropology states, “Food…offers a potential window into forms of memory that are more heteroglossic, ambivalent, layered, and textured” (Holtzman, 2006). This suggests memory manifests in a variety of experiences, each offering a different insight into human thought processes. Scholars have applied this knowledge of food and memory towards business models that use psychology to market food products. In particular, scholars have studied how consumers respond to advertising campaigns that evoke nostalgia. According to research, individuals exposed to nostalgia advertisements are more likely to experience positive feelings towards the advertising brand (Muehling & Sprott, 2004). Inspired by this discovery, I conducted my own research on the marketing of umami to children via common childhood snacks. Specifically, I chose Pepperidge Farms Goldfish® Crackers as a research model, since nothing screams nostalgia more to me than everyone’s favorite orange fishies. To study the marketing effects of Goldfish among young adults who grew up with the snack I interviewed Suraiya Luecke, recent college graduate from the University of California, Berkeley. Also known as “The Girl with the Goldfish Tattoo,” Suraiya embraces her love of Goldfish with a zeal unlike any I’ve seen before. Read below for her thoughts on Goldfish and the story behind her iconic name.
How It All Began
Q. What is your first memory of this product?
- Her first memory of Goldfish is from birthday parties when she was a little girl.
- She remembers going to the pool with her friends in the summer
- After they got out of the pool, they would huddle together around the snack table
- Goldfish were always there
Q. How old were you (when you first tasted them or when you had this memory)?
- She’s not sure exactly how old she was when she first tried Goldfish but she thinks it was around elementary school age
Q. What sparked your passion for Pepperidge Farm Goldfish® Crackers?
- She always loved Goldfish growing up and once she went to college there was no one to tell her what to eat or what not to eat
- The freedom of college allowed her to indulge in whatever food she wanted
- Since her college meal swipes included food from stores on campus, picking up Goldfish was very convenient
- They were essentially already paid for in her meal plan
- Goldfish came especially in handy to curb her hunger since she often wasn’t able to attend her sorority dinners
- She and her friends used to chase shots with Goldfish
- She would buy the large gallon size container at Costco so she would have a nearly endless supply
- Most of her memories include sharing her Goldfish with friends
Q. Why do Goldfish® crackers mean so much to you?
- Goldfish were a really big part of her life
- The high frequency of them in her everyday life combined with fond memories of eating them while with friends contributed to her attachment to the product.
- She remembers playing a form of catch with her friends where they would throw Goldfish and aim to make it in the other person’s mouth
- There was never really a bad memory with Goldfish
- She tends to associate them with summer, but since California has relatively warm weather year-long she cannot be sure
Familiarity with the Product
Q. How familiar are you with the ingredient listing of Goldfish®crackers? How much do you care what’s in them?
- She is not familiar with the ingredients at all
- She said she would be surprised if there was actually real cheese in them
- However, she doesn’t really care that much about what they contain because now she has greatly reduced her Goldfish intake
- She only eats them occasionally now as a treat, partially because she doesn’t think they are healthy for her
- She thinks they have a lot of salt; she wishes there was less salt
- She often brush off the excess salt on top
Q. Can you explain why you decided to get a Goldfish tattoo instead of a different tattoo?
- She wanted to get a Goldfish tattoo largely on a whim and because Goldfish were a big part of her life at the time
Q. How did Pepperidge Farm respond to your enthusiasm?
- She contacted them via an online submit form
- Pepperidge Farm wrote a personal email back to her
- They were pleased to hear she enjoyed her Goldfish experience
- She originally anticipated getting some freebies, but sadly she did not
Q. How have other people reacted to your Goldfish tattoo?
- Most people react positively
- They think it is cool
- She thought it was interesting that only in people from America recognized it
- International students (from countries including Germany, India, New Zealand, and Australia) did not know what it was
- The fact that she has a lip tattoo comes up in conversations more than the fact that it is a Goldfish tattoo
- Partially why she got it inside her lip is that it is hideable
- Lip tattoos are semi-temporary
- She knew it was silly, so she wouldn’t want it in more visible place
Q. Any regrets?
- She has no regrets at all
- It’s hidden so it doesn’t cause too much of a problem
- Her parents know about it, they think it’s funny
- She filled in her tattoo again after 7 months
- She wouldn’t get another one
All About Flavor
Q. What do you like about Goldfish® crackers?
- She likes the taste and texture, specifically the crunch
- One of her favorite ways to enjoy them is chewing a bunch of them in all at once in her mouth to create something she calls “goldie butter” (similar to cookie butter but a savory, cheesy version)
Q. Is there a certain taste you associate with Goldfish® crackers?
- She thinks Goldfish definitely have an umami flavor
- Interestingly, she doesn’t think they taste like cheese at all
- She thinks they taste salty
Q. What do you like about Goldfish® crackers compared to other types of cheese crackers?
- She likes that only some of them have smiles
- She likes the unique shape
- Overall, she likes the combination of cuteness and taste
- She doesn’t like Annie’s brand cheese crackers
- She loves Cheez Its; she thinks they have a stronger cheese flavor
- However, she does not like their plain square shape
Q. How many different types of Goldfish flavors have you tried?
- She has tried a wide variety of Goldfish flavors including the classic cheddar, baby cheddar, rainbow, white cheddar, and pizza
Q. What is your favorite and least favorite flavor?
- She likes the classic cheddar most but she also occasionally likes the xtra cheddar and pizza flavors
- She dislikes the whole grain and pretzel flavors
- She would rather not eat any than eat the whole grain flavor
- She does not find the sweet varieties or organic flavors appealing because they do not fit into her idea of what Goldfish should be
- Goldfish should be savory
- They are not a healthy snack so she thinks it is silly for them to try to create more health-conscious versions
Q. Have you encountered other Goldfish diehards? (Is there a Goldfish community?)
- Yes she has!
- She thinks it’s awesome when she finds other people as enthusiastic about Goldfish as she is
- She found one girl in her sorority who shares her love for Goldfish
- When this girl found out about the tattoo she wanted to get the same one!
Q. Is there anything else Goldfish related you would like to share?
- She remembers participating in races through an organization called Cotopaxi, a company she describes as “outdoor gear with a social cause”
- Her team named themselves “The Goldies” in honor of Goldfish for the three years they raced together
- Holtzman, Jon D. (2006). Food and Memory. Annual Review of Anthropology, 35(1), 361-378. doi:10.1146/annurev.anthro.35.081705.123220
- Muehling, D. D., Sprott, D. E., & Sprott, D. E. (2004). The Power of Reflection: An Empirical Examination of Nostalgia Advertising Effects. Journal of Advertising, 33(3), 25-35. doi:10.1080/00913367.2004.10639165