Fix and Fogg in their first six months

By Craig Beardsworth
Photography by Benjamin & Elise

Featured in Capital #8.

This is part of Capital’s 10 year birthday retrospective, where we look back at some of our favourite stories over the past decade. To read an update of this story, see issue #90 of Capital.

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If you’re partial to peanut butter there’s almost certainly are jar of Fix and Fogg in your cupboard.

We spoke to founders Roman and Andrea Jewel in the very early days of their business.

Fix and Fogg conjures up images of a Dickensian law firm and seems apt since owners Roman and Andrea Jewel met while studying for a Masters degree in law. Andrea said the peanut butter brand name was sparked by ‘Around the World in 80 days’ by Jules Verne. Phileas Fogg circumnavigates the world chased by Inspector Fix. “A crazy adventure is what we were about to embark on so it seemed like a perfect name”. Both Andrea and Roman left safe jobs dealing with law to peddle peanut butter and ‘crazy’ is what some people have called them.

For Roman it wasn’t an overnight decision “it’s been 18 months of thinking and experimenting and trying out the market at fairs”. In December that he gave up his job tutoring law students through profs exams and in January the first order from Moore Wilsons arrived. For both, law has been enjoyable but a lot of time is spent trying to solve abstract problems. They hankered for problem solving that ended with a tangible product. Law also brings with it a certain expectation from people. Andrea said “You get treated differently; people assume so much about you whereas the past six months has exposed us to all sorts of people who treat us as equals”.

So why peanut butter? Three years ago the couple changed their diet – meat, processed foods and sugar out and vegetables and whole foods in. They were keen to create a spread without preservatives or sugars and there were very few other brands on the market. Extra crunchy was also hard to find so they set out to make the best peanut butter possible. Their recipe uses only peanuts and a little salt. The shelf life is no problem as the oleic peanut they source from Australia has a high oil content which also adds to the taste. Roman clearly relished the challenge to make the best peanut butter and looked at every aspect. Labels, grinding machines and jars were all assessed. Roman laughs “The top of the jars are angled away so it’s easier to lever a knife in if the lid’s stuck.”

January has been a baptism of fire with a great response from the public. Moore Wilsons placed three orders in seven days and the 400 jars a week production has risen to 1000. This is unsustainable long term as they want to keep production at a manageable level and don’t see the brand expanding into main supermarket chains. Keeping things small and localised enables them the freedom to be more responsive to situations as they arise. “We heard about a festival the other weekend and thought let’s give it a go. Because we’re small we can do that without a lot of fuss.”

And as for the inevitable nut jokes? Roman’s friends tell him to stop using the phrase ‘That’s nuts’ but everyone is hoping news of Fix and Fogg will spread smoothly.


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