BREAKING: Fig Newtons dropped the “Fig” and changed its name to Newtons… ten years ago. In April 2012. What? Did everyone know about this? Why do I get PR emails about innovations in children’s yogurt (regular yogurt but in an array of colors not naturally occurring in nature) and teas that “fix your aura” (poop—just say poop), and yet the axing of “Fig’’ from the name of an iconic American cookie has stayed so under the radar for a decade?
(Also, for those reading this, please don’t send me PR emails.)
If you’re like me and just now noticing this name change, you may be going through stages of emotional processing that loosely resembles this:
1. Denial (No! It’s Fig Newtons! Why would it not be Fig Newtons?)
2. Confusion (Why wouldn’t anyone tell me they dropped “Fig”? Also, aren’t they still full of fig?)
3. Guilt (I have literally never purchased Fig Newtons. Maybe only true FigHeads deserve to be kept in the know.)
4. Acceptance (I did my taxes wrong. Like so, so wrong. Criminally wrong. I am going to jail. I cannot worry about Fig Newtons right now. The name “Newtons” is fine.)
5. Fear (When I’m put on trial for accidental tax crimes, my lawyer isn’t going to have anything to say except, “Your Honor, my client is a dumb bitch. She didn’t even know about Newtons.”)
It turns out the Newtons brand has had a history of reinventing itself. The cookie was invented in 1891 as “Fig Newtons” and described as a “cake.” In the 1980s, that branding changed to “chewy cookies.” According to the New York Times story about the name change—which, again, happened ten whole years ago—dropping the “Fig” in favor of “Newtons” reflects not only the fact that the cookie comes in more fruit flavors beyond just fig, but also that figs just aren’t sexy enough to cause customers to lunge at them on grocery store shelves.
“It was going to be hard for us to advance the Newtons brand with the baggage of the fig,” Gary Osifchin, a then-executive at Kraft, told the Times. Ah, the baggage of the fig...