Supporters of Ted Cruz may believe that a vote for their preferred presidential candidate will take the country back to a simpler time, when the Gipper was in the White House and families gathered around the table at night for a 1950s-style dinner. For Campbell Soup Co. (CPB – Get Report, a company accused by some of being in a similar time warp, a Cruz presidency could provide just the shot in the arm it needs.
Campbell’s icon can was hip when Andy Warhol made it into pop art, but the company’s canned soups have not held up well in an age where consumers are focused on healthy eating and organic products. North American soup sales stopped growing in the last decade, according to Euromonitor data, and while the company has used a mergers and acquisitions strategy to diversify and stringent cost control to sustain margins, its 100-year-old namesake business could use a shot arm.
The candidate’s spouse Heidi during a CNN town hall this week spilled the beans on Cruz’s obsession with soups, saying that when the couple returned home after their honeymoon Ted went to the store and returned with what she claims was 100 cans of Campbell’s Chunky soup. She said she returned the cans soon after, but ended up repurchasing them after consulting with her mother.
Cruz’s affinity for soup lasted even after the honeymoon was over. The candidate told US Weekly last month that when he is away from the family in Washington, D.C., his dinner is a can of soup, saying “I have dozens in the pantry.”
There’s a history of the occupant in the White House driving sales of particular foods. Ronald Reagan’s professed love of Jelly Belly, a particular type of gourmet jelly bean, caused that company’s sales to double year-over-year to $16 million in 1980. And the momentum continued well after the publicity faded: Jelly Belly in a 2008 New York Times profile reported annual sales of about $160 million.
Step aside Warhol, depending on how the vote goes in November, Campbell Soup might another moment in the spotlight.
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