Character of the Week: Jack Sprat

Retro Staff |  Comments

Jack Sprat originated as a nursery rhyme in England somewhere around the 17th century. It became well-known when it made it into “Mother Goose’s Melody” around 1765. The most popular version is this:

Jack Sprat could eat no fat.
His wife could eat no lean.
And so between them both, you see,
They licked the platter clean.

Also in England, the name Jack Sprat was used to describe small-statured people. This fact, as well as the popularity of the nursery rhyme may have led to the use of this character to advertise tea and other food products.

Jack Sprat Brand Tea features a small elfin-like person on its tea boxes. The little man has rosy cheeks and a large smile with dimples. His hat is tall and he wears a white shirt with a red bowtie. With this outfit, he looks like a person who lived in England during the 1600s.

The brand Jack Sprat is associated with more than just tea. It was on containers of vinegar, oats, and canned corn among other items. The brand was owned by the Consolidated Foods Corporation of Chicago, IL, which eventually became known as Sara Lee Corporation in 1985.

There is little information on the significance of Jack Sprat as an advertising character or why he was chosen as a brand name. If anyone has more information, please write in and let us know. We’re very interested.

Share