The Ritter Sport “Knick-Pack”


Got an email last week from our friendRitter-Sport-knick-pack-stack John Miller, calling our attention to the German chocolate brand, Ritter Sport.

The “sporty” part is that you can snap the package open.  The motto (printed on every package) is “Quadratisch. Praktisch. Gut.” (Square. Practical. Good.)

I once made fun of this to my German friends, who immediately came to Ritter’s defense: “It’s a progressive company.”  “The product is excellent.”  Etc.

I like “practical” as a product claim. (Reminds me of the early Marlboro Cigarettes claim that their flip-top box was “interesting and practical.”)

The official English version of the Ritter Sport motto, however, is not the literal translation. Their English language packaging offers instead, “Quality. Chocolate. Squared.” (Which, I suppose, could be expressed algebraically as: Quality + Chocolate2 = RS)

Miller also points out that “Somehow, eating chocolates seems to be the opposite of sports.”

It’s true that Ritter Sport’s advertising has long sought to associate itself with sports, often by implying that an infusion of chocolate will give the consumer greater athletic ability. It turns out, however, that Ritter’s chocolate was originally named “sport” because the square chocolate bar would fit into the pocket of one’s sport jacket.

The “snap open” feature is due to their patented and trademarked “knick-pack”

Much more about Ritter Sport’s branding and their Knick-Pack, after the fold… [Read more…]

The Coke Bottle Stapler


Coke-Bottle-Stapler-Vertical-600We’ve seen a lot of promotional products designed to resemble product packaging. (See: transistor radios, clocks, cigarette lighters, etc.)

This Coke bottle stapler was new to me. One of a number of desk accessories that the Coca-Cola Brand Products division came out with in 1997. (There was also a Coke can pencil sharpener.)

Usually, with package-shaped promotional items, you can find a wide array of different brands. This bottle-shaped stapler, however, appears to be exclusive to Coca-Cola.

Seen upright from the back, the stapler makes a pretty convincing bottle, but I’m more attracted to the horizontal side views. It’s interesting to see which portions of the bottle shape needed to be removed in order to make a fully functioning stapler.

There’s something admirable in the designer’s determination to somehow make this work. Even if it does wind up looking a bit like a broken coke bottle.

Still, if the shape of a Coke bottle can be said to fit the hand, the Coke bottle stapler inherits the same ergonomic advantage.   [Read more…]

Packaging structure? Or a blueprint of space?


Above is a patented, space-filling “modular component” that Australian inventor, Chris Heyring claims provides a “usable electromagnetic blueprint of the structure of space.”

Heyring holds patents to a number of more obviously practical applications… Nauti-Craft Marine Suspension Technology, polyhedral tent structures, etc. (See: ABC News profile of Heyring from 2011)

The “close-packable” hyperhedron that Heyring’s 2010 patent describes, appears to be the same “saddle polyhedron” that, in the mid-1960s, Peter Pearce dubbed the “space filling bcc saddle tetrahedron.”

PeterPearce-bcc-saddle-tetrahedraphoto from Peter Pearce’s 1978 book, Structure in Nature Is a Strategy for Design

Black-White-bcc-saddleAlan Schoen also cites Pearce’s discovery of this particular polyhedral shape.

… In the spring of 1966, … I knew
next to nothing about any minimal surfaces! But then I met Peter Pearce…

At Peter’s studio I saw several elegantly crafted handmade models of crystal networks, including two that especially caught my eye, because they each contained an example of a novel interstitial object Peter had invented and named saddle polyhedron. These saddle polyhedra had straight edges, but each face was curved in the shape of a minimal surface.

…Using a toy vacuum-forming machine, I made plastic replicas of several soap films that span skew polygons.

Alan Schoen, Triply-periodic minimal surfaces

My idea would be to try and use this shape as an efficient packaging structure. Shrink-wrapped candy packets? Liquid laundry detergent pods? Probably best not to do both. (See: Medicine Cabinet Candy and Problem with Laundry Detergent Pods)

“Shrinkwrapping” is actually a mathematical term metaphorically coined by Danny Calegari and David Gabai in their 2005 paper,  Shrinkwrapping and the Taming of Hyperbolic 3-Manifolds (published in the December 7, 2005 issue of the Journal of the American Mathematical Society)

Naturally it’s easier for me to just go with the metaphor than trying to comprehend the mathematics (or the electromagnetic forces?) behind it.

(More about Heyring’s patent, after the fold…) [Read more…]

Plastipak’s “SprayPET Reveal”


One of the nominees for a 2015 German Packaging Award: Plastipak’s “SprayPET Reveal.” First launched in February of this year, these containers reveal something that was formerly concealed in containers of this type: the inner bag.

SprayPET® Category Director, Murdoch Crawford says: “The SprayPET® Reveal system represents a world-first as a fully transparent bag-on-valve aerosol solution. It offers all the benefits of a standard bag-on-valve aerosol, yet also provides fillers and retailers a genuine opportunity to create real on-shelf differentiation for the first time and the ability to showcase the product to maximum advantage. For consumers, not only can the product be sprayed at any angle, there is the added benefit of being able to accurately predict the need for a replacement as the remaining contents can be seen.”

This reminded me of an earlier post where someone had cut open a Crest “Neat Squeeze” toothpaste container and found the quantity of its contents to be underwhelming.

Packages with smaller inner compartments and false bottoms are often deemed deceptive.

Perhaps, by revealing the contents in this manner, packagers using the SprayPET “Reveal” can now justifiably claim to be fully transparent, in the best sense of the word.

More photos, after the fold… [Read more…]

Packaged (past tense): Office Orchestra


OfficeOrchestra-lid-openI first leaned of this container in the book, Experimental Packaging.

It’s Andrea Chappell and Cherry Goddard’s 2000 packaging for their “Office Orchestra.”

This collaborative work is an invitation to office workers to rebel against the hushed atmosphere of the computerized workplace and put ordinary supplies to unusual uses in a noisy and creative celebration of the office community. Released from their cardboard concertina binding, pencils serve as batons, thumbtacks as percussion, with 12 instruments in all.

from 2003 “Inside Cover” exhibition

This object generally gets filed in the product category known as “artist’s books” and/or “multiples.”  I like the musical connotations of its “concertina binding” — although, to me, it’s more immediately reminiscent of old-school office supplies like accordion folders and rotary Rolodex files.

The product also included a printed musical “score” composed by Nick Loe.

(More images and info, after the fold…) [Read more…]

There Will be Chocolate Syrup

There Will be Chocolate SyrupSam Cranstoun, Untitled (Oil!) 2011,  digital print

These images by artist, Sam Cranstoun caught our attention.

His 2011 Oil!  installation appropriated stills and storyline from Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2007 film, There Will be Blood — itself an adaptation of a portion of Upton Sinclair’s 1927 novel Oil!  Among other interventions, Cranstoun employs Hershey’s chocolate syrup as a metaphor or analogy for oil. Hence: There will be chocolate syrup.

Not so far fetched, considering that, in the movie, Daniel Day Lewis’s character, “Daniel Plainview” makes a number of references to “drinking up” all of the available oil with a straw, comparing it first to drinking water, then to “blood of the lamb” and then finally to drinking a milkshake.

Cranstoun presumes, as we do, that Plainview’s metaphorical milkshake is chocolate.

(More artwork, more about the cinematic significance of chocolate syrup and some videos, after the fold…)

[Read more…]

Structural Packaging Design: Prism vs Antiprism!


Prism vs Antiprism…

Octahedron_stack_helix_apeirogonsNot to be too combative about it, but Kelly Abeln’s Tinker Toys box and Jonathon Weller’s sugar container are two structural packaging designs that are interesting to compare.

In one corner: a triangular prism shaped container. In the other corner: a stack of triangular antiprisms. Both decorated with overlapping transparent colors.

Triangular prisms are space filling. They will “close pack” on shelves or in shipping cartons with no space in between. (Although, in the real world of rectangular boxes and shelves there will always be some extra space at the edges of any close-packed arrangement of non-rectangular packages.)

Triangular anti-prisms, on the other hand, are octahedrons. Octahedrons are not space filling. Stacked antiprisms, however, do form helical apeirogons

An infinite stack of antiprisms, for example octahedra, makes helical apeirogons, 3 here highlighted in red, green and blue, each with a twist angle of 60°

from Wikipedia’s entry on Skew apeirogon

Victor Design’s pineapple-shaped stack of hexagonal antiprisms (see: Polyhedral Pineapple) is another great example of a helical apeirogon pack.

(A bit more about each of the two example packs, after the fold…) [Read more…]

Packaged (past tense): Playmate Beer

SidewaysPlaymateBeera 1960s “Playmate” beer can that fetched $2,400 in the 2012 The Adolf Grenke Breweriana Collection auction

PlaymateBeerCanWhen trademark litigation succeeds in forcing a trademark-infringing packager to cease and desist, this sometimes has unintended consequences.

Sunshine Brewing Co. came out with this brand in the mid-1960s. Hoping to capitalize on the popularity of Playboy magazine, Sunshine attempted to trademark both “Playboy” and “Playmate” as trademarks for their beer and malt liquor.

In 1966 Playboy sued them. [HMH Publishing Co., Inc. v. Sunshine Brewing Co.]

Unfortunately when Sunshine advertised their new beer as Playmate they didn’t realized or didn’t care that they were violating a trademarked name owned by Playboy.  Later that year Playboy… sued the Sunshine Brewing Company. … Playmate Beer never made it to the shelves and was never really advertised to the public.  Sunshine was ordered to destroy everything associated with the Playmate name.

A good friend of mine who worked at the brewery at the time of the “Playmate Purge” told me he was assigned to the work detail that was tasked with destroying all in-stock beer cans.  He said the cases would come down a conveyer-belt where he and about 4 other guys would crush every can with a hammer then send them into a dumpster.  Hammers were swinging and beer was flying!

Breweriana Aficionado

These Playmate beer cans are very scarce and, because of this, they can command some pretty high prices.

(More about it, after the fold…) [Read more…]

Liquid Level Package Design (bubbles at the edge)

Liquid Level Package Design

Wasn’t sure at first how  to describe this package design idea — showing a simulated view of a product’s liquid contents on the outside of an opaque container.

From a branding standpoint, this seems like a tricky thing to pull off. Even if you take a more optimistic view (than the pessimistic “half empty” camp) you certainly do not want to suggest to consumers that your packages might be only “half full.”

Plenty of packaging features more dynamic waves and splashes, but, with these package designs, the effect is calmer… more like water gently seeking its own level.

I finally settled on calling this idea “liquid level package design.”  With bubbles at the edge for  an added touch of verisimilitude.

(More about each of the 3, after the fold…) [Read more…]

Different brands. Same brand name!

Zing! vs. Zing! different brands — same brand name

Zing! vs. Zing!  It isn’t hard to find different manufacturers using the same brand name. Usually these are non-competing brands in different product categories. Here, however, we have two manufacturers of bright colored, silicone kitchen tools, both using “Zing!” with an exclamation point as their trademark.

The logo on the left is for Robinson Home Products brand, “Zing!” launched in 2012. They applied for a U.S. trademark for the word “ZING.”  Their application was filed on 1/29/2011 and registered on 10/8/2013.

The logo on the right is for Glasgow-based Premier Housewares brand “Zing!” launched in 2011. I can find no evidence online of their having sought trademark protection for their logo.

A likelihood of consumer confusion? I would say so.

Like competing contestants on that 1950s TV show, To Tell the Truth, these two brands are each trying to persuade us that they are who they say they are: Zing!

After the fold, “Will the real Zing! please stand up?”   [Read more…]

Re: Dude ’72 and his “PIP” brand cardboard guitar

Dude-PIP-Guitar“Dude ’72” photo by Mick Rock (Camden Town, Summer 1972)

In 2009, when I first wrote about Mick Rock‘s photo of a boy playing with a cardboard guitar in 1972, I had no idea what sort of box it was that had been used to make the Dude’s guitar.

Yesterday, an email from England provided the answer: it was a PIP brand cauliflowers box.

I randomly came across this photo a short time ago and noticed the cardboard used for the guitar is from a box belonging to my family’s farm. The boxes would have been used to take produce to markets across London years ago…

My family’s farm has been on the go for a few generations now but under various names for different purposes. PIP farm produce was run by my grandfather and his brother. ‘Pip’ was actually a nickname given to my grandfathers brother (his name Peter Pearson). This side of the business was market based, we owned lorries that distributed our home grown produce to markets up and down the UK. It was dissolved in 2000 when the supermarkets started to rise and take over. We carried on growing and started to supply them, via larger haulage firms. Thus us selling the lorries etc and that side of the business becoming redundant.

Anyway, farming is my family’s history and I have to say I’m pretty sentimental about this old cardboard box. My dad is also a pretty big fan of Mott the Hoople. And it was only by complete chance we came across this photo. I love it.

Charlotte F.


Charlotte’s dad being a Mott the Hoople fan is significant because Mick Rock’s photo —of a boy playing a guitar made from a PIP (Farms Produce) Limited box— was originally earmarked for the cover of Mott the Hoople’s album, All the Young Dudes, produced by David Bowie. Why was it never used for that purpose?

The photo appears in Mick Rock’s book, Glam! An Eyewitness Account with an accompanying caption that seems intentionally vague: “Why it wasn’t used I can’t remember, nor can Ian Hunter, must have been a chemical shift.”

I wrote some unkind things in 2009 about the illustration that preempted the Dude ’72 photo. (If I was overly harsh, it was only because this particular photograph would have made such a great album cover.)

Delving into it a bit deeper, I learned that the illustration I was disparaging in 2009, was the work of musician/artist, George Underwood. The credits on the back of the album attribute “sleeve concept / art direction” to Mick Rock. George Underwood is credited with “colour retouching,” which one might have assumed meant retouching of the photos, but must, instead, refer to Underwood’s cover illustration.

Reading about Underwood’s early history with Bowie, I have a new working hypothesis about how this substitution came to be made. I’m guessing that it was Bowie’s idea to give Underwood the cover, and that art director, Mick Rock chose to go along to get along.

(One more thing after the fold…) [Read more…]