Oxo is a brand of various food products, consisting of stock cubes, herbs and spices, dried gravy, and yeast extract. In the United Kingdom, Oxo products are manufactured by Premier Foods. In South Africa, the Oxo brand is owned and manufactured by Mars, Incorporated.
In the UK, until May 2001, Oxo was owned by Van den Bergh Foods Ltd (part of Unilever PLC), when along with the Batchelors soup brand (based in Ashford, Kent) it was sold to the Campbell Soup Company to allow Unilever to buy Bestfoods. Campbells UK was subsequently acquired by Premier Foods in 2006.
The best known flavour of stock cube is the original beef cube, but now, in addition to beef, Oxo produces chicken and ethnic flavoured cubes, e.g. Chinese Recipe and Indian Recipe. The cubes are broken up and used as flavouring in meals or gravy or dissolved into boiling water to make a hot drink.
Concentrated meat extract was invented by Justus Liebig around 1840 and commercialized by the Liebig Extract of Meat Company starting in 1866. The original product was a viscous liquid containing only meat extract and 4% salt.
In 1899, the company introduced the trademark Oxo for a cheaper version; the origin of the name is unknown, but presumably comes from the word ox; or it may have been a mark made on crates of the extract at the docks. In 1908 Oxo sponsored the London Olympic Games (despite claims by Coca Cola to being the 'first' commercial sponsor of the Games) and supplied athletes with Oxo drinks to fortify them. The first Oxo cubes were produced in 1910 and further increased Oxo's popularity as the cubes were cheaper than the liquid. During the first half of the 20th century, Oxo was promoted through issues of recipes, gifts and sponsorships before fading into the background as a part of the fabric of British life in the latter parts of the century. For the beginning of the 21st century a new image was promoted with modern television advertising and sensibilities.
In the UK between 1983-1999 there was a famous Oxo campaign "The Oxo Family", which featured a family eating a meal selling the Oxo product. In 1999 the campaign stopped and the Oxo family shared their meal on TV for the last time, when the family moved out of the house after 23 years.
In South Africa, Oxo is now a brand of Mars, Incorporated. However, the only product currently marketed under the Oxo brand in South Africa is a yeast extract based spread. The product also contains a lesser portion of beef extract, giving it a slightly 'beefier' taste than other yeast extracts.
Beef Oxo Cubes
Vegetable Oxo Cubes
Italian Herb & Spice Oxo Cubes