The Surprising Connection Between Butterfingers And The Simpsons

As iconic as "The Simpsons" is now, if it weren't for the candy brand Butterfinger, the show's path to success might have looked very different.

Before "The Simpsons" got its own network television show, it was a recurring animated short in "The Tracey Ullman Show," per Mental Floss. But after Nestle used "The Simpsons" characters in its Butterfinger advertising in 1988, the animated characters became popular enough for Fox to run "The Simpsons" as its own series.

Plus, according to Screen Rant, the now-beloved character Milhouse was introduced to the Simpsons universe through a Butterfinger ad. Matt Groening, creator of "The Simpsons," came up with Milhouse for another animated show that NBC never picked up but decided to recycle him for an appearance in one of the "Simpsons"-themed Butterfinger commercials. After Milhouse appeared in the Butterfinger ad, the character was eventually added to the animated series as Bart's best friend.

Why did Butterfinger stop using The Simpsons in commercials?

Judging by how well "The Simpsons"-themed Butterfinger ads were received, it's fair to say that product placement goes a long way. After all, the whole reason Reese's Pieces became successful is that the brand appeared in the box office hit "E.T." But with Nestle airing new Simpsons commercials for over a decade, it apparently became overkill.

Throughout the 1990s, Butterfinger and "The Simpsons" were so synonymous that "Nobody better lay a finger on my Butterfinger" became known one of Bart Simpson's signature catchphrases. 

By 2013, however, Nestle had made moves to phase out the Simpsons-Butterfinger brand association. The company launched a nationwide promotional tour and sweepstakes called "Who Stole Bart's Butterfinger?" The grand prize included a trip to L.A. and a personalized Simpsons-style portrait, per Nestle. But after this last hurrah, Nestle pulled the plug on its partnership with "The Simpsons" for good. Apparently, it was all over as soon as somebody laid a finger on Bart's Butterfinger.