Take a trip back in time to 1990, when around California growers produced about 230,000 tons of walnuts.

A walnut on rollerblades was tearing it up on national TV in distinctly 1990s style.

It’s somewhat possible the ad spot was influenced by the California Raisins, who were all the rage on televisions across the country, singing “Heard it Through the Grapevine.” Or it could just be a coincidence.

Walnut growers know that since then, plenty has changed for California’s walnut industry, and for its outreach to consumers around the world.

Just in terms of output, the trend is impressive: Walnut production cracked the 300,000-ton mark in 2003, and rose sharply to double in volume in the last few years (charts via the USDA on the left and right).

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Along with the big uptick in production, the California Walnut Board’s promotions to grow the market are a far cry from the 1990s.

"Our goal is to make California walnuts the go to nut of choice for consumers cooking, baking, and snacking, as well as ingredient of choice for food manufacturers and food service operators," explains Jennifer F. Williams, the board’s marketing director for domestic advertising. "We saw a need for a consumer facing logo that highlighted California origin and could be used to tie advertising and promotional efforts together by lending itself to on package labeling, further closing the loop for consumers."

That new logo (seen below) has a 95% approval rating from test groups, and it is showcased on a new website with information for health professionals, recipes for chefs, and of course, guidance for growers.

“Hopefully this will engage with consumers better, keeping them on the site longer and showing them new ways to use California walnuts,” Williams told growers at a recent event in Turlock.


Beyond the website, the California Walnut Board is spreading the word about the health benefits and all-around deliciousness of walnuts on social media, and with in-store promotions at retail locations in Charlotte and Minneapolis.

Then there’s TV. It’s not 1990 anymore, and the board has a freshly minted spot you may see as you’re flipping through the channels this holiday season.

There's no talking walnut here, just a bunch of delicious recipes that will stick in the minds of everyone who sees the commercial: 



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