Hedgehog mania has accounted for at least one business success story: Hedgehog Foods Ltd., one of Europe's biggest makers of organic potato chips, or crisps at the British call them. In 1981, Philip Lewis, a pub owners in Wales and devotee of hedgehog jokes, decided as a lark to produce "hedgehog flavored" crisps. Sales boomed, but it didn't take long for angry hedgehog lovers to blow the whistle, fearing that the crisps were actually made from hedgehogs. In fact, they were flavored with pork fat.
But then, in 1982, Britain's Office of Fair Trading hauled Mr. Lewis into court for false advertising. A settlement ultimately was reached under Mr. Lewis interviewing gypsies, who actually do eat baked hedgehog, ascertained what hedgehogs taste like and commissioned a flavorings firm to more or less duplicate the flavor. He changed the labels from "hedgehog flavored" to "hedgehog flavor," and all interest were satisfied.
Last year Hedgehog Foods had sales of $3.6 million and is now a major contributor to St. Tiggywinkles Hospital, plugging the hospital on every package. "Looking back, it was a bit gruesome, that flavor," Mr. Lewis concedes.
- reprinted without permission from THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, January 8, 1992 (page 1)
(St. Tiggywinkles is a hospital exclusively for hedgehogs, located in the English Midlands. Hapless hedgehogs are sent from all over, mostly through British Rail's overnight parcel service, which has a special rate for shipping injured hedgehogs.)