Rocky, Peanut Chews go way back

A Temple ad major channeled Rocky to win a Peanut Chews billboard contest.

So now Rocky’s a big shot. Ditched the South Philly row home for the bright lights of Broadway and got himself a musical. Rocky, our fabled tough guy, “Philadelphia’s favorite son,” twirling away for the theatre crowd up in New York.

Well, if you’re going to accuse Rocky of selling out, at least he kept his sponsorship local. And no, it’s not Shamrock Meats, Inc.  Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews, the chocolate candy made in Northeast Philadelphia, had history with the boxing movie franchise even before becoming the official partner of the musical.

Last year, a Temple student won a contest when his idea was displayed in a Billboard on I-95 in the Northeast. His slogan for Peanut Chews: “Enjoyed when the Rocky Steps were just steps.”

Thanks to a long-standing relationship with the Philadelphia Film Society, virtually every movie that’s shot in Philadelphia gets Peanut Chews on the set. They were there when Rocky was first being produced, and for the sequels shot in Philly.

“When we learned that they were making it into a [Broadway] show, it sparked all kind of conversation around Goldenberg’s factory,” said marketing manager Robert Zender. “Primarily because we as Philadelphians have such a strong affinity for the Rocky story. There’s a lot of pride as though Rocky was kind of the hometown hero. “

Zender sees many of the same characteristics in the candy brand, first introduced as a World War I ration, that’s Philly born and raised and now enjoyed across America. As a self-proclaimed diehard Rocky fan, Zender had his doubts about the show translating to Broadway.

“I wouldn’t have believed it if you told me a year ago that it was possible,” he said. ”They did the story justice. They did the character justice, and if you think about the movie, there’s such an iconic music score that you can’t deny that even though Rocky himself is not a singer or a dancer, there is a musical feel to the whole franchise.

“I’ll bet you there will be folks in Philadelphia and other places who can’t perceive it, but after having seen it, I was swept away.”

Rocky and the folks and Goldenberg’s crossed paths on Broadway as far back as the early 1970s. The actor in the commercial who says “now that’s chewin’ it old school” claims to have spoken with Sylvester Stallone in a New York City actors' bar on Broadway just before Stallone left to pitch the idea in Hollywood.

Now in its role as an official partner, is Peanut Chews more of an Adrian, a Paulie, or a Mick?

There’s no “Which Rocky character are you?” Buzzfeed quiz yet, but Zender concedes Goldenberg’s is more like an extra cheering Rocky on. He also sees some familiar blue collar qualities in Paulie that the company can identify with, but would be most honored for the candy to be considered an Adrian.

“We love Rocky, and we think there’s a reciprocated appreciation for the brand.”