Packaging Design vs. Actual Reality


One of my frustrations as a Mom, is the endless appearance of licensed characters on kids food products. Take Yoplait Kids Yogurt. This product is nicely portioned for small children, has a thick consistency for less mess, and contains less sugar, but unlike the individual packages pictured on their site, each container in actuality has a Nick Jr. character on it. If it encourages the kids to eat a decent product, I’m fine with it. But then there are the hundreds of other products with those same characters on every other shelf. I sometimes want to say to my children, “Forget that—insert Scooby, Barbie, or other random character here—is on the box, do you even know what’s inside? Or really want to eat it for that matter?”

For all the print design I’ve done, little of my experience falls within the realm of packaging. And I’ve never done any food packaging, that’s for sure. Still, I got to thinking, maybe the Europeans have it right. Their food always seems to have (surprise!) a picture of the actual food on the front. That’s when I found, a German website that compared 100 products to their packaging photos. The site mentions that their goal was simply that, to compare products and advertising. It was not their intention to discredit brands or products. The testers also noted that all products were “eaten up,” which I consider a thoughtful and “green” touch to their experiment.

I forgot all about this post (it was sitting in my drafts) until my road trip to NYC with Jen. After a stop for some ice cream, I eagerly tore off the wrapper of my Sundae Crunch Bar and came face to face with a disturbing lack of chocolate crunchies. This picture doesn’t even convey just how much this product failed to measure up to it’s advertising. Besides the fact that there was no delicious coating, Jen even laughed at how small and pathetic the size of this ice cream bar was. I’m not often let down by ice cream, but I began to think that maybe if Hello Kitty or George Clooney, or heck—just some good old design technique, was displayed on the packaging for this product I may have enjoyed it more.

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