Crunch time for Golden Wonder

The Telegraph today reports that Golden Wonder, one of the great names of the British snack food industry, has collapsed into administration, blaming the relentless competition from rival Walkers crisps. The company was the grandfather of the industry, creating cheese and onion flavour crisps, but it failed to keep pace with the innovation of its rivals. It has been particularly hard hit in the past decade by Walkers' slick advertisements, which have featured the former footballer Gary Lineker and other celebrities.

Golden Wonder crisps (left): killed by the marketing machine at Walkers (right)

Up to 850 jobs at the company, based in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, are at risk. The administrators say that factories at Corby and Scunthorpe will carry on trading until further notice while they try to find a buyer. When US food giant PepsiCo entered the UK market in 1989, it bought the Smiths and Walkers brands. Since then it has pursued an aggressive policy of expansion and now controls 45 per cent of the crisp market.

Golden Wonder's advertising slogan, "Where a crisp is a crisp", failed to capture the imagination. In 2002 it was forced to sell Walkers its Wotsits brand, which provided most of its profits. The company's brands, including Wheat Crunchies and Nik Naks, as well as Golden Wonder, may be bought from the administrators but it is uncertain whether the factories will survive.

The IPKat suspects that the brands may fetch a healthy price (whatever the health value of the existing products). Wheat Crunchies does have just a hint of descriptivism about it and Golden Wonder does perhaps, to the untutored imagination of the relevant consumer, suggest something gold-coloured and which is wondrous to eat.

Gary Lineker and Walkers crisps here

Mystery author 'outed'

A second piece in today's Telegraph concerns J. T. Leroy, reputedly one of America's most prominent young male novelists, a supposed rent boy turned AIDS-infected drug addict, who has just been exposed as an elaborate literary hoax whose public appearances have been acted by a woman.

Leroy, hailed as a 25-year-old genius with three critically-acclaimed novels behind him, first came on the literary scene in 2000. The supposed West Virginia-reared child prostitute had apparently got hooked on drugs and contracted AIDS in San Francisco before he was "rescued" by failed rock musicians Laura Albert and Geoffrey Knoop and then treated by a psychologist. After his 'rehabilitation', he converted the bleak tales of his youth into highly successful novels, published in 20 countries. Leading editors of Manhattan publishing houses apparently fell over themselves to publish Leroy. Celebrities, including Courtney Love, Tatum O'Neal and Carrie Fisher cultivated his company.

The New York Times has now reported that Leroy, who only ever appeared in public dressed in a wig and sunglasses, was acted by Geoffrey Knoop's sister Savannah. Miss Albert is thought to have written the novels after concocting the J. T. Leroy creation with the Knoops.

The IPKat is quite amused by the whole episode. Under Article 6 bis of the Berne Convention the author has the right to assert his identity as the author - but who has the right to control the fictitional 'outed' personality of J. T. Leroy him/herself? The kat scents the possibility of litigation here. Merpel says never mind the moral rights, if the books in question were masterpieces when they were "written" by J. T. Leroy, don't they remain masterpieces now that they've been written by Laura Albert?

A different sort of mystery author here and here
What is a Knoop? Click here and prepare to be unenlightened (unless you speak Dutch)


  1. What happened to Smiths? In my early days the main manufacturer of crisps was Smiths with a screwed up blue packet of salt in each packet.

  2. As a child I only knew Smiths. Was there any other product available in North West London? We used to suck the bags till all the salt was out of them, then eat the crisps. The first half-dozen or so were usually large and unbroken; the rest were mainly crumbs ...

  3. Ah, SALT 'N' SHAKE, sadly visually, aurally and conceptuallly similar to SHAKE 'N' VAC...


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