Retro Commercials: Folgers ‘Peter Comes Home’

I don’t know about you, but commercials can often take me back to my formative years as quickly as any song or movie can. That is why we will continue this semi-regular feature on ’80s commercials that I consider particularly memorable, noteworthy, or forgotten. Television commercials were much more influential back when we were forced to watch them without the luxury to fast-forward through and/or stream shows with limited or no interruptions. This issue will cover the Folgers holiday commercial “Peter Comes Home”.

I was obviously not a coffee drinker at the time and never have developed the taste for coffee even now, but most of us people of a certain age fondly remember a particular Folgers coffee commercial from the Christmas season. It is memorable to so many since it ran perennially for at least 13 years beginning back in 1985. It became a holiday tradition. The commercial titled “Peter Comes Home” features a college student (Peter, played by actor Greg Wrangler) coming home for Christmas despite a snow storm. He makes Folgers coffee with his little sister and the smell of fresh-brewed coffee wakes up the rest of the family to find that “Peter” made it home. It follows the brand’s normal tagline/jingle of “the best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup” but adds “Best wishes for this and all your mornings from Folgers.” Here is that original classic holiday commercial…

Like I said, this spot started back in 1985 ran every Christmas season through 1998 with an edited version returning in 2004 and 2005. It always reminds me of the ’80s which obviously is usually a good thing for me. The commercial was created by the Cunningham & Walsh agency which technically no longer exists (merged into other agencies), but they did an incredible job of capturing the warm fuzzy feeling of family and the holidays. At the same time, they created a timeless iconic moment which would serve to promote the Folgers brand for years and years to come.

Folgers went on to become the leading coffee brand in the U.S. thanks in no small part to commercials like “Peter Comes Home”. This was well before all of the advancements in brew-at-home coffee. Folgers, founded in 1850, was sold by Proctor & Gamble to J.M. Smucker for just under $3 billion in 2008. Smucker has also purchased other iconic P&G brands including Jif and Crisco, all of which it is attempting to revitalize.

They tried to recapture the magic with a new 2009 version of this commercial with a new “Peter” coming home from doing volunteer work overseas. It is supposedly based on a real-life story, but certainly did not seem to have the same effect as the original (and has even been criticized for perceived sexual tensions between Peter and his sister). They probably would be better off just showing the old classic. There is definitely something to be said for nostalgia when it comes to product promotion, but I guess I understand the need to appeal to a new audience as well.

That will wrap up another trip down memory lane in the form of TV commercials. As I mentioned, I have never been a coffee drinker and probably never will, but I can still hum the Folgers song and have fond memories of this holiday commercial. Now, I spend time trying to avoid watching commercials, so to have one as touching and memorable as the original Folgers “Peter Comes Home” commercial is a special accomplishment. And, yep, it came from the ’80s.

About OldSchool80s 50 Articles
Old School Tim has an adoring devotion to the awesome '80s decade. He loves to relive and share that nostalgia on a regular basis. The Kickin' it Old School blog site has been retired, but you can still get daily doses of '80s goodness on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and anywhere else they let him.