In 2009, Folgers unwittingly entered the annals of internet infamy with the release of a Christmas commercial, “Coming Home,” a modern reinterpretation of the classic “Peter Comes Home For Christmas.” Little did the creators know that this seemingly heartwarming clip would become known for its allusion to incest.
The Folgers Christmas commercial opens innocently enough, with a young man arriving home from volunteering in West Africa. A festive, snow-covered house greets him, and his sister enthusiastically identifies herself with a simple “sister!” The awkwardness ensues as they share a cup of Folgers coffee while their parents are still asleep.
The peculiar reaction even birthed a genre of fan fiction known as “Folgerscest,” which delved into imaginative and, at times, explicit stories revolving around the commercial’s characters.
The narrative takes an unexpected turn when the sister sticks a bow on her brother and calls him her Christmas present. This unintentional flirtatious exchange sparked a wave of collective discomfort among viewers. Memes, articles, and parody videos flooded the digital landscape, cementing the Folgers Christmas commercial’s status in creeper history.
“It was purely brother and sister at the time. It was pretty surprising when people started talking because this was a brother-sister thing!”Matthew Alan, the brother in the Folgers commerical
The peculiar reaction even birthed a genre of fan fiction known as “Folgerscest,” which delved into imaginative and, at times, explicit stories revolving around the commercial’s characters. Although the Folgers Christmas commercial officially stopped airing after the 2012 holiday season, its legacy endured in the minds of those who stumble upon its cringey dialogue each year.
When the Folgers Christmas commercial marked its 10th anniversary in 2019, GQ spoke with those involved in its creation and those who contributed to its online resurgence. The ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi, responsible for the Folgers account at the time, played a crucial role in bringing the advert to life. The late Doug Pippin conceptualized it, with Jerry Boyle serving as producer and Ray Dillman taking on directing duties.
“They had fun with each other. I didn’t see anything that would’ve indicated that it could be interpreted any other way.”The commercial’s director
The trio aimed to create an emotionally resonant story about a brother returning from the Peace Corps and reconnecting with his sister, who had grown up in his absence. The inspiration behind the story came from Pippin’s personal experience, as his son had returned from the Peace Corps for Christmas. However, what unfolded online after the ad’s release was beyond their expectations.
The incestuous interpretation of the Folgers Christmas commercial took everyone by surprise. Timothy Simons, known for his role in Veep and the cameraman for the auditions, was bewildered at its notoriety as casting decisions were made with the intention of portraying a brother-sister dynamic. Actors Matthew Alan and Catherine Combs were specifically chosen to convey the familial relationship.
“It was purely brother and sister at the time,” Matthew Alan, who played the brother, said of the Folgers Christmas commercial. “It was pretty surprising when people started talking because this was a brother-sister thing!” Director Ray Dillman shared the sentiment, saying, “They had fun with each other. I didn’t see anything that would’ve indicated that it could be interpreted any other way.”
Despite the initial innocence behind the Folgers Christmas commercial, the internet’s ability to reshape and reinterpret content ensured that it would remain one of the creepiest Christmas adverts in history. But all incest jokes aside, the scariest part of the commercial is the brother calling Folgers “real coffee” (in some version) after returning from West Africa, where some of the world’s best coffee is produced.