How We Used Fandom to Power the First Social-Generated Cookbook

In 2020, Thomas’ commemorated 140 years since their very first Nooks & Crannies English Muffin.  After a decline in bread sales in 2019, our challenge was to honor the past, solidify Thomas’ place in modern kitchens, and gather a new, younger generation of followers along the way. So we tapped into cultural insights to find a digital path into the kitchens and hearts of Mom Bosses throughout America. The result was the first social listening-informed, user-generated cookbook with a fully-baked social strategy to match, making this anniversary a celebration of Thomas’ fans, new and old.


In 2019, we noticed our target audience (the “No-Nonsense Mom Boss”) was scrolling social media to inspire efficient creativity in her kitchen. We saw her avidly sharing culinary accomplishments and tagging brands she loved. When 2020 went into quarantine, we tapped into COVID-era insights and quickly adapted our strategy to the new kind of normal, which saw a significant uptick in home cooks scouring Pinterest for recipes. These insights informed a social-forward approach that empowered food lovers of every level and paid homage to a long-trusted brand.

Driving Our Community Online & IRL

Beginning in store, we launched custom national packaging featuring the #Thomas140 hashtag, encouraging existing fans to share their Thomas’ creations on social to inspire new fans. We shared these user-generated yums to Thomas’ channels on the daily as a way to stoke even more fan content. We also dropped the surprise that our top picks would become a pillar for our cookbook. More shares turned into more purchases, which turned into more shares, which turned into, well… you get it.

Thomas' Community Leading the Way to a Hardcover Cookbook & Thousands-deep Sweepstakes

Not only did we select our favorite fan recipes for inclusion, but we also mobilized a squad of food influencers we knew our audience would love. Each shared their creation on social using #Thomas140, further generating excitement for the cookbook and recipe sharing. We collected all the recipes, tested them for ourselves (the best part), and added a few of our own. Finally, we styled all 140 custom recipes with best-in-class photography and superior design. The finished product is the Thomas’ 140 Years of Yum cookbook, featuring recipes for every meal of the day, interactive infographics, instructional poetry, and games to play while the English Muffins toast (because this year called for innovative at-home entertainment to conquer quarantine fatigue).

We continued to expand the visibility of our community’s work by publishing a free, downloadable, ADA-accessible version of the cookbook on Thomas’ website. (Hey, want one?) And in December, we hosted sweepstakes to give away 140 hardcover copies of the cookbook, which thousands of people entered.

Taking to Pinterest to Diversify Our Audience

With the cookbook a cookin’, we leaned into our audience’s over-indexed use of Pinterest and relaunched the @ThomasBreakfast Pinterest channel as yet another outlet to share our 140 recipes. We partnered with Pinterest to run a digital advertising survey of our No-Nonsense Mom Boss to inform the new rollout strategy. After analyzing the survey results, we diversified our content to appeal to millennials looking for recipe inspiration with new ideas using English Muffins, Swirl Bread, Bagels, and Mini Croissants. Awareness even skyrocketed among those who reported no kids under 18 in their household, proving that it didn’t hurt to add a bagel brunch cocktail topper into the recipe mix.


Thomas’ saw significant growth on all digital and social media platforms during the #Thomas140 campaign. The brand beat its core social media goal of expanding awareness by driving over 500M impressions year-to-date, a 10% increase over the entirety of 2019. They also observed a 137% increase in those who actively participated on their social media channels through comments, link clicks, and saves.

The Thomas’ Pinterest relaunch generated 49M impressions and 180K engagements — all new success metrics for the brand.  

Perhaps most importantly, we achieved our goal of bringing Thomas’ into new, younger households. Thomas’ breakfast portfolio of products found their way into 4.9 million new households in 2020, a 3.6% YoY increase. Additionally, Thomas’ Bagels saw a 4% YoY increase in new millennial households and Thomas’ Breakfast saw a 19% YoY total increase in dollar sales.

Unique, public user-generated content pieces shared
New households in 2020
Organic impressions on user-generated & influencer content
Organic engagements driven by influencers & UGC
Increase in purchase intent from consumers on Pinterest
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