February 23rd Was National Dog Biscuit Day! Woof woof, crunch crunch, yum yum!

Posted By Jay Moldave On Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Animal Product Marketing Has Been Around Since At Least 1792!

Animal Health Marketing from MoldaveDesignsDog biscuits have been around a long, long time. Ads appeared for biscuits intended for sporting dogs as early as 1792 but generally sources cite Spratt’s Meat Fibrine Patented Dog Cakes as the first dog biscuits manufactured on a large-scale commercial basis.

The story goes that in about 1860, Ohio electrician and lightning rod salesman James Spratt developed his version of the dog biscuit after he saw dogs on the Liverpool docks eating what’s called hardtack. Hardtack (aka “molar breakers”) was a kind of biscuit that sailors ate when perishable foods weren’t available. Spratt’s  doggie version, which contained wheat meals, vegetables, beetroot and meat, was patented in England in 1861.

Spratt’s first consumers were indeed sporting dogs belonging to “English country gentlemen.”

This Spratt’s ad from an 1876 issue of the British Veterinary Journal features testimonials and warns of “spurious and highly dangerous” counterfeit dog cakes. Click to see a larger image.

This Spratt’s ad from an 1876 issue of the British Veterinary Journal features testimonials and warns of “spurious and highly dangerous” counterfeit dog cakes. Click to see a larger image.

After Spratt died in 1880, the company went public, developed the first dog food line formulated for a given life stage, and went down in advertising history as the first company to put up a billboard in London.

The company’s US operations began in 1870, first in New York City and then Newark, NJ.  No stranger to marketing, Spratt’s bought the cover of the first American Kennel Club Journal in 1889 and branched out into other pet products, including “palatial” kennels, collars and other accessories, treatments for canine ills, and various information booklets. Spratt’s US operations were acquired by General Mills during the 1950s. In the UK, Spratt’s was acquired by a company called Spillers, which in turn was acquired by Nestle in 1998.

Spending on pet food in the US today? Almost $23 billion in 2014.  Worldwide? An estimated $74.8 billion by 2017.

Here’s More to Chew On:

Feeding Your Pet Right
Spratt’s was the world’s first large-scale manufacturer of dog biscuits.
The History of Pet Food
Pet Industry Market Size And Ownership
Global Pet Food Sales To Approach $75 Billion By 2017
Want to Make Your Own Dog Biscuits?

4 thoughts on “February 23rd Was National Dog Biscuit Day! Woof woof, crunch crunch, yum yum!”

  1. You would have thought a career as a lightning rod salesman would have been pretty promising. Wonder why he felt the need to branch out into dog biscuits… Then again, it does make for a diverse product portfolio.

  2. At IT Radix, ( http://www.it-radix.com) we celebrated this day by bringing dog biscuit treats to all of our clients who have a dog on site at their offices. We were quite busy delivering these and we got lots of happy licks and lots of tail wags from our friends. It was worth it, make no bones about it!

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