I’ve been thinking about Jarritos for some time now. They’re popular in our neighborhood. The deli on the corner stocks them. I bought these seven varieties at Western Beef—also within walking distance. At first, the thing that attracted me, was the picture on the label of a container, other than the container in which they’re actually sold. The Jarritos corporate narrative explains this:

The brand name finds its origin in the Mexican tradition of drinking coffee, water and other drinks in clay pottery jugs, called “jarritos”, because it keeps beverages fresher and cooler.

Novomex web site

Founded in 1950, Jarritos is apparently the number one soft drink brand in Mexico and the number one Mexican soft drink brand, sold in the U.S. They’re known for using a high percentage of natural flavors, and, as with other Mexican-manufactured sodas, they use cane sugar (rather than corn syrup) which many regard as a tastier, more wholesome sweetener. (See related links about Mexican Coke: here and here)

One thing I do not like about this package, is the transparent plastic label. Originally, I thought that this was a recent change… (See: Packaging Digest) But I’ve lately been informed that the labels that we see on Jarritos bottles here in NY are those that are still produced in Juarez or Mexicali. So better adhering labels are coming soon to east coast! Still, given the vintage-looking typography, I would wish they could have stuck with the the original ACL (applied color label) ceramic labeling.

In an article about the machine responsible for applying the newer, better adhering labels, The Labeling Blog touts the supposedly "fifties" look of the final result:

The machine is designed to label 400 mm glass bottles at a rate of 52,000 bottles per hour: the final drinking product is “Jarritos”, a traditional Mexican drink consumed in vast quantities, especially by migrant Hispanics in the US. Novamex has decided to boost its popularity further via a stylish marketing campaign. The extreme labeling precision of the Opera 500 Ad, together with “no label look” transparent labels, which give the impression of a 50s-style screen printed bottle, provides Jarritos Novamex with considerable added value.


Photo on left from Laura Beamer; photo on right from Chandlor’s flickr photostream

Not to be a total crab, I do appreciate the crown bottle cap & the embossed bottles’ “little jug” detailing. I’m also intrigued by this ad from 2004 showing how the world looks different, when seen through a Jarritos bottle.

(One more thing about Jarritos, after the jump…)

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Menu Gift Boxes

Menubox1At Gift Fair, since the emphasis is naturally on the products themselves, the packaging is often hidden away. Creative Danes’ booth was like this. Out on display were products from Menu A/S: a colorful series of rubber vases, organically shaped terracotta oil lamps, and other modernist housewares. But tucked onto the shelves underneath were some very nice gift boxes that these products come in.

Dark on the outside, photogenic on the inside, these Cinderella-like boxes perhaps don’t get the attention they deserve.

(A couple more Menu boxes after the jump…)

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Boylan Bottle Glasses

DietrootbeerglassEarlier this month, I’d fallen into a sort of unintended root beer rabbit hole. (Here, here, here & here) When I saw these glasses at Gift Fair, I figured I was meant to write about these also.

Last February I wrote about how the Green Glass Company refashions bottles into glasses and goblets. (See: Package Becomes Product ) Since then, they’ve teamed up with Boylan Bottling Co. to turn used Boylan deposit bottles into glasses. An interesting idea. On the one hand, it’s almost like a licensed product thing for Boylan, putting their re-purposed (but still branded) packages onto dinner tables. (See: Branding in Your Home) And, on the other hand, it provides Green Glass with a steady source of glass bottles that Boylan would’ve, otherwise, thrown away—(Since bottlers refilling glass bottles, appears to be a thing of the past.)

(More Boylan bottle glasses, after the jump…)

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Packaging Toys for Dogs

It’s only when your old dog starts getting bedsores that you fully realize the fallacy of the expression, “Let sleeping dogs lie.”

Taking my old dog to the veterinarian this week, I noticed these pet toys for sale on a spinner rack. Plush pet toys with embroidered labels from Multipet.

Anthropomorphizing much? (Or do dogs really dig packaging?)


Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design


GreenaidinstructionsAt the NYIGF booth of design partners, Lovegrove & Repucci, I saw “Greenaid,” an ingenious shopping bag that comes packed in a soft, zippered hand-grenade. Greenaid’s tagline:  “Declare war on plastic!”

I’ve covered hand-grenade packaging before, and like some of those(Flowerbomb, for example)—this one manages to have it’s cake and eat it too. (A peace-loving eco product with borrowed war-time glamour.)

More than that, it appears to solve a frequently encountered modern problem: you’re at the store and, despite your best environmental intentions, you’ve left your reusable shopping bag(s) at home or in the car. I also like the way the packaging remains an integral—(if decoratively war-like)—part of the product.

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

Statement Soaps

PeacesoapLast February I wrote about Kala Style’s Vote Soap, introduced during the last presidential election. (Before the twin-pack of war in Iraq & Afghanistan and the gradual, unapologetic Republican concession that Al Gore was actually right about global warming)

This time at Gift Fair I noticed that “Vote Soap” was actually one of a product line of three “Statement Soaps,” the other two being “Peace Soap” and “Save Water Soap.”

In view of what a “soap box” stands for, figuratively speaking—(and with another critical election just around the corner)—I think it’s an interesting choice to use soap boxes to make a statement.

Although branding pundits speak of brands embodying an entire lifestyle, most companies will tip-toe around any meaningful political values that their consumers might, in fact, embrace. While plenty of companies may lay claim to environmental convictions, when it comes to politics, most product makers tend to play both ends against the middle. (See Partisan Packaging). With a large, board-of-directors type of company, I can see why it might be this way. Smaller companies, however, are in a different position. When their owners have actual political convictions, they are in the unique position of being able to put their money where their mouth is.

I’m not talking about the blatantly political (and usually stupid) novelty products. (The Hillary Nut Cracker, comes to mind.) I’m talking about products that might sell equally well in red or blue states, except that the packaging is throwing down a sort of political gauntlet.

Here in the U.S. it’s a brave thing for a company to actually take sides, because—(as we demonstrated in the last presidential election)—the nation is cartoonishly divided in half. How many companies are willing to risk pissing off half of their potential customers?

Some might say, that if you have a smaller company, you have less to lose. But if it’s true that consumers reward the brands which reflect their own personal values, then surely there is money to be made by stipulating your products’ political point of view. I mean, if your hands were dirty and there were two bars of soap at the store. And they were both the same price. And one was “Peace Soap” and the other was “Troop Surge” soap. Which would you buy?

(Another “Statement Soap” after the jump…)

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The Brand Dilution of Duff Beer

DuffenergydrinkDuff Energy Drink is made by Boston America. Photo on left from Caffeine Guru; photo on right from Triston Pelton’s Flickr Photostream

In an earlier post, I looked at Five Formerly Fictional Products, but there were bound to be more than five. Duff Beer, Matt Groening’s fictional brand of beer for The Simpson’s cartoon series, is another example. Even though Groening decided not to license the Duff trademark for an actual beer—(since it might be construed as promoting beer to children)—the Duff logo has been licensed to a bunch of other products that are not beer and, in some cases, have very little to do with beer.

The Duff brand Energy drink (above), an over-sized Duff Beer can package of playing cards, the Duff Beer Talking Ice Bucket [see Talking Package], Duff Mints in miniature beer can containers [see Soda Candy], a Duff Beer coaster Set, Duff tee shirts, Duff Beer lounge pants, Duff boxer shorts, a Duff Beer tube top, a Duff bikini, a Duff Beer Bottle-Opener Hat, a Duff Beer freezer mug, a Duff Beer magnet, a Duff Beer dice game, the Rotating Duff Can Lamp With Changing Characters, a Duff Beer key-chain, Duff Beer salt and pepper shakers, Duff Beer alarm clocks, posters, stickers, etc.

Pretty much the definition of “brand dilution.” Too many line extensions that do not reflect your core strength may cause loyal customers to wonder what, if anything, does the Duff brand even stand for anymore?

The unlikely hero in this story of diluted brand equity—(trademark infringement and welfare of children, notwithstanding)—is Rodrigo Contreras, from Guadalajara, who in 2006, trademarked “Duff” in Mexico. (Apparently beating The Simpsons’ production company, Gracie Films to the punch.) Consequently an actual “Duff Beer” is available for sale in Mexico.   

(See pirated/genuine “Duff Beer,” after the jump…)

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Good Plain Packaging from Kathleen Lewis

Even though I am not normally a “spa” sort of guy, I was very taken with the spare, minimalist labeling for Brooklyn-based Kathleen Lewis Beauty. Starting as a DIY soap maker, local enthusiasm for her products has grown to where she now offers an extensive line of candles, beauty and skin care products.

At Gift Fair, her discreetly-labeled products were arranged on racks of aluminum trays, giving the whole enterprise a kind of pharmacological vibe. Interesting, that her stated skin-care credo is “Do no harm.” (Same as the Hippocratic Oath!)

Graphic design for these labels was done by fine artist, James Dustin.

A nice detail, that Kathleen pointed out to me: the labels wrap around from the left leaving a gap on the right—rather than wrapping, front to back. (Sorry. It doesn’t show in these pictures.)

I must be typographically-challenged. It’s only just now dawning on me that the color area of each label represents an “L” for Lewis.


(More photos, after the jump…)

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Blue Q’s Planetary Virtue

Sadly, the shopping tote above was not one of the two free ones that I received at Gift Fair. In a crowded product category, Blue-Q’s bag for the passive-aggressive, ecological shopper stands apart. The Saving the Planet Shopper(“The more you shop the more planet you save”)—is their current best seller. Never ones to partake in the “New Sincerity,” even at their most virtuous, Blue Q manages a bit of backhanded irony—which, like water, is refreshing…

(See why in the world I’m alluding to water, after the jump…)

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Licensed Lip Balm Packaging

A screen shot of Valeri Thalen-Passon’s flickr set of lip balm packaging

Gift Fair on Sunday, one of the booths at which I lingered, was License 2 Play, a distributor specializing in licensed products. In that booth alone, was enough “packaging-as-content” to keep me digressing for a very long time. For now, I’ll just have to try and confine myself to the licensed lip-balm thread.

Although I’ve noticed a lot of lip balm varieties out there, I never knew that there was a line of General Mills Cereal lip balms or a line of Betty Crocker lip balms. (Both, manufactured by Boston America.) So many food-related flavors for something you’re not actually meant to eat.

I like it when the backing card of a carded blister-pack is in the shape of some other type of packaging… the Betty Crocker frosting canister, for example. …and all the die-cut cards shaped like bottles or cans, for the beverage-related lip balms. (Lotta Luv is a company that makes a lot of that type.)

Finding vpassion’s flickr site was a real eye-opener. She has an impressive collection of lip balm packaging—a lot of it of the licensed product variety.


Photo on left from Lip Treats web site; photo on right from vpassion’s flickr photostream

(a little more about licensed lip balm packaging, after the jump…)

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Black Ice Cube Trays

SuckukalphabetboxWent to New York International Gift Fair today. Finally got to see the box for the new Suck UK all-black version of Sillycone, Inc.’s alphabet silicone ice trays.

Aside from a Letter ICE logo on the back (not shown here) and the photos on the top panel, we were not involved with the design of this package, but we really like what they’ve done… the stark black and white, the cutaway corner, etc.

One thing I guess I can take credit for: the simulated product packaging photo above. (Read more about simulated product photos here…)

(An actual, non-simulated photo follows, after the jump…)

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