Hedgehog flavoured crisps were created in 1981 by Phillip Lewis, landlord of the Vaults public house in Welshpool. He created them as a joke, in part inspired by a Gypsy tale of eating baked hedgehog.
Just to be sure no-one worried about actual hedgehogs, the back of the packet had a disclaimer:
“Savour all the flavour of traditional country fare cooked the old fashioned way without harming a single spike of a real hedgehog.”
The crisps caught the imagination of the press and public world-wide. Television crews and TV personalities, including Billy Connolly, came to find out more about the novelty crisps.
The crisps benefited hedgehogs, too: for every 20 Hedgehog Tokens collected and sent back, a donation would be made in the sender’s name to the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.
Hedgehog flavoured controversy
But there was a problem: the description of the crisps as “hedgehog-flavoured” contravened the Trade Descriptions Act 1968.
In 1982, the Office of Fair Trading took Lewis to court, arguing that Hedgehog Crisps Ltd was misleading the public in its advertising campaign, as the crisps did not contain hedgehog, so were not, strictly speaking, flavoured with hedgehog.
All it took to resolve the dispute was the removal of two letters from the packet description: “hedgehog flavoured crisps” became “hedgehog flavour crisps”, and the Office of Fair Trading was satisfied.
Hedgehog Crisps Ltd was later bought by Benson’s Crisp Company, South Wales. Hedgehog-flavour crisps were mass produced for a time. In 1991, the company had sales of $3.6 million and was a major donor to St Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital.
Phillip Lewis died in 2017 at the age of 74. His daughter Claire said:
“Dad lived for many years in Welshpool and was best known for inventing Hedgehog Flavoured crisps in the 1980s. He was also a French, Music and Classics teacher at Welshpool High School, Telford Upper School, Wrekin Boys and Bishops Castle. He was an accomplished flautist and a lover of all things French – including red wine.”via Shropshire Star