These Jars of Peanut Butter Sold Out in Less Than 5 Minutes

And they stirred up years-old controversy.

February 26, 2020

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You say, “potato;” I say, “pot-ah-to.” You say, “tomato;” I say, “to-mah-to.” But can we all just once and for all call off the argument over how to pronounce “GIF?” Jif peanut butter apparently hopes so.

It may make sense to you – as it does to me – that the file format for animated and static images would be pronounced GIF with a hard “g” (as you would use for garage or girlfriend), rather than a soft “g” (as in… um… geriatric or gestation). After all, GIF stands for “Graphics Interchange Format” and “Graphics,” obviously, starts with a hard “g.”

However, the guy who invented the GIF, Steve Wilhite, has insisted that it is pronounced “jif,” with a soft “g.” Yes, like the peanut butter.

Wilhite, who created the GIF while working at CompuServe in 1987, even used the five words allotted to him for an acceptance speech when he won a lifetime achievement Webby Award in 2013 to underscore the point: “IT’S PROUNOUNCED ‘JIF,’” he asserted in a GIF projected on a screen over the stage, as the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey (aka Richard Strauss’s “Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30”) emphatically played. “NOT ‘GIF.”’

The debate (on the one hand, common pronunciation sense; on the other, what the creator says) has long raged, and now Jif peanut butter and the GIF search engine GIPHY have partnered up to, as they put it, “finally put the lid” on it.

For starters, they’ve introduced a 40 oz. limited edition jar of Jif x GIPHY Creamy Peanut Butter – labeled JIF on one side and GIF on the other to “[set] the record straight one jar at a time.” Not surprisingly, the jars sold out in a jiffy, which is to say, less than five minutes.

“The debate over how to pronounce GIF has been raging for too long. Hard G or Soft G? ‘Gif’ or ‘Jif?’” GIPHY and Jif declare on the Amazon product page for the now sold-out jars. “If only there was a co-branded, limited edition jar of edible education to finally set the record straight. A collaboration between two titans of pronunciation that unequivocally declares, ‘Jif is peanut butter, GIFs are animations.’ This is your lucky day, and this is that jar.”

The companies have also introduced a series of GIFs featuring the special-edition jars – and made its case on the Jif website.

“WHEN IS IT OK TO CALL A GIF A “JIF”? NEVER,” the peanut butter maker protested. “Jif is peanut butter. GIFs are looping animations.”

So Jif and GIPHY are coming down hard on the side of hard-G then? Sure looks that way. Of course, team soft-g clearly sees things different. In that case, the promotional page notes, those on both sides of the pronunciation debate – which is totally raging on social media will just have to “ajree to disajree.”

Cute. Very cute. And to the marketing genius who came up with the whole nutty idea? Jood job!

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