For this week’s COMM57 blog post, we have to write about the history of the company, product, or service related to the market research plan we are working on this semester. In this post, I’m going to write about the history of the widget, which was invented in 1969 by two Guinness beer employees named Tony Carey and Sammy Hildebrand. It was a difficult product to develop for technical reasons and the project took so long that the patent was allowed to lapse. Hence, it wasn’t commercialized until 1984.
In 1984, Guinness researchers Alan Forage and William Byrne devised the widget’s design: a plastic internal compartment that would be inserted into a beer can during the filling part of the canning process. It would be pressurized during the filling process and would release that pressure in a controlled manner when the can was opened. This would create that characteristic creamy head on the Guinness beers that we all know and love. The widget still didn’t work all that well because pasteurization would reduce the quality of the head. Cary figured out how to fix this by rapidly inverting the can after the lid was on. This improved the head. The first samples sent to Dublin to be sold in Guinness beer cans were labelled “Project Dyanmite.” This caused a delay at Customs and Excise, which was nervous about what the product really was.
Afterward, the product’s name was changed to “insert,” but operators soon started calling them “widgets,” and the name stuck. The first commercial launch was in March 1989. There were some problems with the widget because the can would overflow when opened if it was warm. A “Smoothifier” widget was launched in 1997. The idea for the widget caught on and John Smith’s started to include widgets in its cans in 1994.
NOTE TO READERS: This post is a demonstration to my Marketing students of how not to blog. I’ll be removing it soon.