Cross-Category Packaging (Part 3: Egg Cartons)


Top row, left: ”Soggs,“ socks from Xplorys (the same company that brought us FreshWear baby clothes, packaged in milk cartons); on right: egg shaped candles from Coastal Candle Supply; 2nd row, left: Soso in egg-shaped salt shakers (via the dieline); on right: a six-pack of Tenga “egg” sex toys; 3rd row from left (clockwise): marshmallow eggs (from Cybele-’s Flickr Photostream); Benny Bully’s “egg chop” dog treats; Swatch “CHICCHIRICHI” watch and packaging, and “Dancing Egg” game packaging from Haba Toys; on right “Feeling Egg” LED light set packaging; 4th row, left: chocolate eggs from Thompson Candy; on right: a Language Egg Carton Game; 5th row, left: Disney’s Chicken Little figures packaging (via Stuart Ng Books and Toy Whiz); on right: a craft felt egg carton project via eBay; below that: MailleBox yarn packaging (photo from PutYourFlareOn’s Flickr Photostream); 6th row: children’s “egg” toy packaging; bottom row: Asher Jasper’s packaging for felted creatures

Continuing with the cross-category series—(as defined in Part 1)—here are egg cartons which do not contain eggs. (At least not the genuine, laid-by-a-hen type of egg.)

For Easter candy & chocolate eggs (and other deliberately egg-shaped items) it‘s not really such a stretch to come up with the idea of packaging them like eggs. Not so obvious that socks, sex toys, pet treats, yarn, salt, felt toys & LED lights could also be packaged this way.

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

Cross-Category Displays (Milk Carton Shaped)


“Cross-category,” in the sense that cookies and baby clothes are not generally packaged (or displayed) in milk cartons.

As discussed in our previous post, cookies are sometimes marketed as an accompaniment to milk. (And vice versa.) While Mother’s Cookies are not, themselves, packaged in a milk carton, the milk-carton-shaped P.O.P. display (above, left) poses the question: “As long as you’re buying milk, why not pick up some cookies?”

The self-similar Freshwear display (above right) makes a fractal point about its unconventional packaging for baby clothes.

The Mother’s Cookies Milk Carton Display was created by Harbor Industries, Inc. (via: Creative)

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

Cross-Category Packaging (Part 2: Milk Cartons)


Even though they’ve lost ground to plastic containers—and even though, as often as not, they contain juice—gable top cartons continue to be strongly associated with milk. For this reason, a lot of the cross-categorically packaged products in gable topped cartons, refer to milk. Sometimes these are baby products like the Mimijumi formula bottle and the Freshwear baby romper body suits.

Other times, milk is alluded to for different reasons. The Whoppers malted milk balls come in a gable top container to highlight milk as a presumably important ingredient. Cookies are sometimes packaged in milk cartons, alluding to milk, as the popular accompanying beverage. (The cookie package shown here is a concept proposal by Sami Christianson via the dieline.) The Southpark “Kenny” toy is packed in a milk carton alluding to the “missing children” announcements that frequently appear on milk cartons.

Other stuff packaged in cartons seems to be either a functional choice or a marketing choice. Pepperidge Farm “Goldfish,” for example. —(unless they’re trying to allude to milk as an ingredient of cheese?)

Aquarium Salt has no connection to milk that I know of. Nor do Epsom Salts—(although there are occasionally “milk baths" to be found that are packaged in milk-style cartons.)

Copperhead BBs do not have any dairy connection and yet come in a gable top carton… although it is possible to “milk” a venomous snake…

(See a video commercial from Italian skater brand, Lait Lab, after the fold…)

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Cross-Category Packaging (Part 1: Cans)


Sometimes a product is put into a package, borrowed from another product category. Clothing, sold in cans, for example. I call this “cross-category” packaging. The motivation behind this potentially confusing marketing move? Partly a “category disruption” to stand out on the shelf and partly a flippant novelty to charm the consumer. Why flippant? Because canned goods have acquired a humble, sometimes humorous connotation. (Canned music; canned laughter.) A cross-category “canned” product mocks itself and invites us to share in the joke.

Sometimes the category hopping seems arbitrary—(why a bra in can? why not in a bag or a box?)—other times there’s an underlying logic. Malted milk balls packaged in a milk carton, for example, to highlight a key ingredient. (milk)

The Levi 501 Jeans in a paint can, I first saw via Lovely Package. These seem like an example of the “arbitrary” approach—(unless they’re “painter’s pants”)…

I wish I could remember where I found the Voyeur brand store-packaging, but I give up. (Try searching online for “Voyeur” + “underwear” and see what you find.) Voyeur’s canned underwear packaging takes the “flip-novel” approach, although the graphics appear to be totally in the manner of Barbara Kruger and I wonder whether she’d approve of that.

The Paint Can pinhole camera is a little different. A different type of packaging camera from the ones we featured earlier—here the can is the camera, although the connection between photography and house paint seems to be of the “arbitrary” type. Still, the can is pretty important since the package is pretty much the product.

Many times, when a product is cross-categorically packaged in a can, the can is an essential part of the concept and is featured in the name. (As in: “Any Product You Can Think of in a Can”) This also ties into the idea of packaged “kits,” where batches of items are kitted together into a convenient (or humorous) product concept. Think: ”Party-in-a-Can,” “Bed-in-a-Bag” and the like.

(One more thing, after the fold…)

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Stocking the Shelves with Random Objects


One of Ceal Floyer’s “Helix” series: What looks like a shelf of randomly arranged, unrelated packaged goods (and other objects) is actually a rigidly organized artwork.

She begins with a plastic template which has a series of different sized holes cut through it… a tool for drawing circles. … “Helix” is actually the name of the company that produce it… Ceal has filled every one of the circles … with some object. Whatever fits that exact circle is used. A toothpaste tube, a Pritt stick, two different sorts of batteries, a candle, a roll of tape, a tablet…there must be about 30 different sized circles and objects.

And all of the objects have a patina of autobiography. But Ceal doesn’t give much away. It’s tantalizing because of its lack of real personal detail. But it’s also comforting in its use of such recognisable and familiar objects. There are a couple of things that I can’t name, but it occurs to me that they are those odd, orphaned pieces of detritus that love to hide at the bottom of drawers or shoeboxes, receptacles of the uncertain bits and pieces in life which we fail to throw away. It’s just such a beautiful and quietly brutal way to present a picture of a life. Whether she thinks of it in these terms I don’t know, but certainly very few, if any, of her other works include anything like as much of a sniff of her life’s detail. It is so rigorous and unflinching a piece. I stand and look at it for ages.

Russell Herron

See Floyer in the process of stocking the shelves with objects that fit: here.


(The product which served as the organizing principle of these sculptures, after the fold…)

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Printed = Bad. Embossed = Good.


Probably not a bona fide trend, but the idea of using embossed branding as a more “eco-friendly” alternative to printing with inks, is an idea that has lately been gaining some traction.

While it’s doubtful the the FDA would ever really accept embossed warnings or nutritional info as sufficiently legible for consumer packaging, the low-key branding of these monochromatic concept packages for Coke, holds a certain appeal for those who favor a quieter, more subtle type of branding.

On the left, above, is “Touch” from Swig Studio—a proposed embossed carton. On the right is “Colorless” by Harc Lee of Ryan Harc—a proposed colorless, embossed aluminum can, which they say…

… can help to reduce air and water pollution occurred in its coloring process. It also reduces energy and effort to separate toxic color paint from aluminum in recycling process. Huge amount of energy and paint required to manufacture colored cans will be saved.

Instead of toxic paint, manufacturers process aluminum with a pressing machine that indicates brand identity on surface.

from Ryan Harc’s Behance site


UK-based Mind Design makes a similar claim about their molded pulp box for Lacoste:

“The most eco-friendly way to package a shirt was not to print on the packaging at all but use embossing instead.”

Sometimes form trumps color. Texture can seem more authentic than faux 3D graphics with highlights and drop shadows. Like packaging that might have been created on the gray planet of Ixchel (from Madeleine L’Engle’s 1962 young adult sci-fi novel, A Wrinkle in Time) these colorless packs carry certain virtuous connotations, quite apart from their specific ecological claims.

Just as in L’Engle’s book where the blind inhabitants of Ixchel serve food that looks “gray and dull but tastes wonderfully delicious,” we make a surprising assumption this type of packaging: that good things come in plain, colorless packages.

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

Cigar Band as Ring

An old, black & white TV commercial for Robt. Burns Cigars shows how a cigar band can be worn as a ring. Other cigar companies have also compared their cigar band packaging to rings. White Owl, for example used to use it in their Christmas campaigns, the cigar band worn on a finger to serve as a reminder—(as in: tying a string around your finger)—to the woman to buy her man some White Owl cigars as a Christmas gift. (There used to be quite a lot of Xmas tobacco advertising—Christmas trees decorated with cigarette packs, etc.)


Interesting, that the wearer of these recycled rings is never the cigar smoker, himself—although, in the story line of the sentimental Robt. Burns ad, the little boy does eventually grow up to become a cigar smoker.

(More about cigar band rings, after the fold…)

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Some Selected Works by Gabriel Orozco


OK, I admit it. It isn’t hard to find packaging-related artwork in the oeuvre of just about any contemporary artist you could name. Like shooting fish in a barrel, really.

Better known for works like “La DS” —(where he cut a silver Citroën down the middle, removed a portion and then reassembled a 1/3 slimmer car)—Gabriel Orozco has also done quite a few of the sort of package-related artworks that we like to feature here. “Empty Shoebox,” for example.

In 1993, the year that he created “La DS,” Mr. Orozco’s career took off with multiple exhibitions. Among them was one that Marian Goodman arranged at the Venice Biennale, where he showed “Empty Shoebox,” an open cardboard box left on the floor to be kicked about. “It shocked everybody,” Ms. Goodman said. “He has a lot of courage in what he does and can be quite radical.”

An Artist’s Return, The NY Times, December, 13, 2009

Another package-related example: “Yogurt Caps”


Some interesting perspective on “Yogurt Caps” from the The New York Observer:

Earlier this fall, Ann Temkin, the chief curator at the Museum of Modern Art’s department of painting and sculpture, was working on the checklist for the upcoming Gabriel Orozco retrospective (opening Dec. 13) when it occurred to her that one of the pieces she wanted to include in the exhibition might no longer exist.

The work in question was Yogurt Caps, which Mr. Orozco, the Mexican conceptual artist, had installed at the Marian Goodman Gallery in 1994 as part of his first solo show in the United States. The installation was a provocative one, consisting as it did of nothing more than four clear, blue-rimmed Dannon lids, each attached to one of four walls of an otherwise empty room in the gallery.

“We had a little panic, my colleague Paulina Pobocha and I, because suddenly we had this flash, like maybe they don’t have those yogurt caps at Marian Goodman’s anymore,” Ms. Temkin said at a MoMA press breakfast earlier this fall. She added later: “I was curious if they had just been thrown out at the end of the exhibition.”

… The panic over the yogurt caps was swiftly allayed when Ms. Pobocha, the MoMA curatorial assistant who is working on the show with Ms. Temkin, called the gallery director and confirmed that the lids were indeed safe and sound and in their possession.

Or, well, they basically were.

The truth was that the original set of lids—the four that were used in the Marian Goodman show—were sold long ago to a private collector. What the gallery had on hand instead was a set of exhibition copies—decoy lids, you might say—that Mr. Orozco had purchased and put into storage just in case a need for them ever arose…

“I don’t remember if we ever thought they were the originals or not, or if that question ever came up,” said Ms. Pobocha last month. “It was never really talked about in [those] terms.”… “The importance of the work, I think, lies in the gesture more than it does in the actual artifact,” Ms. Pobocha said.

Goodman Gallery director Andrew Richards, who has worked with Mr. Orozco for many years, agreed. “It’s not so much the object that matters in this instance—it’s the idea.”

Fair enough! Except that the principal motivation behind using the exhibition copies instead of the originals, at least according to Mr. Richards and Ms. Pobocha, is that because the lids are so small and delicate, they could get damaged or even stolen in the course of the exhibition.

“You can’t just lift a painting off the wall and walk out of the museum with it. These are just much more fragile in that sense,” Ms. Pobocha said. “I’m not saying anyone’s going to steal them, but they could, if they wanted to. Also, if you think about how crowded MoMA gets on Friday nights, one of them could easily just be knocked off the wall and stepped on.”

As far as the regular viewing public is concerned, in other words, all yogurt lids are the same. But when it comes to the collector who paid good money for the original set, distinctions must be made. Such are the contradictions one must tolerate when monetizing conceptual art.

Hey, Are Those The Real Yogurt Caps? By Leon Neyfakh
The New York Observer, December 1, 2009 

(More package-related artworks by Orozco, after the fold…)

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Tin Can Telephones

The tin can telephone or “string phone,” though not the beloved childhood toy it once was, still lives on as symbolic shorthand for “communication” on stock photo sites and in the occasional television ad. This campaign for Progresso Soup makes interesting use of the device—each commercial showing consumers using empty Progresso Soup cans to engage in various tin-can-telephone conversations about the product.

(Another “string phone” film, after the fold…)

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FBI Jr. Spy Toy Packaging


In our previous post, we focused on package-shaped cameras, one of which was a toy spy-camera in the shape of a Resse’s Peanut Butter Cap package. Further research turned up this collection of other “FBI Jr.” brand toys on Sam’s Toybox

Turns out that “FBI Jr. by Nasta” was all about spy paraphernalia designed to resemble soda & snack food packaging. (None of Sam’s toys are for sale.)


(Another Pepsi Walkie Talkies box—one that is for sale—after the fold…)

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Packaging Cameras


Top row, left: Velveeta box camera from Allee Willis’s Blog; on right: Coke Can cameras from eBay;  2nd row, left: film canister camera via I New Idea; 3rd row, right: Fanta can camera from CircusCat’s photostream; center: King’s Cigarette box camera from Rick Soloway’s photostream; on right: instant coffee jar camera from eBay; 4th row left: chocolate milk box camera from Four Corners Dark; center: juice box camera from Zebriana’s photostream; on right: Budweiser Beer can camera (from eBay, I think); bottom row, left: Smarties camera from; on right: “Zeon Tech” Pepsi camera from Arthur Smokes’ photostream

There seems to be no end to the personal accessory categories in which you can find objects designed to resemble consumer packaged goods. We’ve already covered cigarette lighters, telephones and transistor radios. (Not to mention: salt & pepper shakers) Now we’re looking at package-shaped cameras.

Are they merely advertising promotions or are they products in their own right? Are they toys or another example of extreme brand loyalty?

(Another packaging camera—& the box that it came in—after the jump…)

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