The Entenmann’s Box and Its Discontents

Some websites credit Martha Entenmann with having invented the “see-through” cake box. Other sites (including Entenmann’s) say it was a collaborative effort with her three sons.

Believing that people were more inclined to buy what they can see, the Entenmann’s brothers, William, Robert and Charles, and mother, Martha, invented the familiar “see-through” cake box for baked goods in 1959.

Entenmann’s Direct

This insight transformed Entenmann’s business:

Quality baked goods used to be sold in white paperboard boxes tied with string, and only someone with X-ray vision knew what the treats within actually looked like. Then in 1959 Martha Entenmann, wife of the son of the Entenmann’s bakery founder, had a brainstorm — people were more apt to buy something if they could actually see it. Working with her sons (who’d joined their mom in the family business after serving in the Korean War), she developed the first cake box with a plastic “window.” The new box allowed the company to display its product on standard supermarket shelves, rather than relying on the limited “under glass” space available in independent bakeries. Instead of taking a number and waiting for a busy salesperson, consumers could browse among all the various “see-through” boxes of Entenmann’s chocolate chip cookies, powdered doughnuts, and crumb cakes…

Metal Floss

Recent changes to their packaging, however, have now irritated some loyal customers…

(The backlash of the discontents, after the fold…)

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Entenmann’s Box Cake


We’ve featured other package-shaped cakes in the past, but the idea of making a cake, shaped like a box of Entenmann’s Chocolate Fudge Cake, rises to higher level. Adding another whole layer of meaning to the humble sheet cake(the one-story, “ranch house” of cakes)—these two Entenmann’s cakes raise some philisophical questions… Are they artificial Entenmann’s cakes? Are they edible packages containing real cake?

The term “box cake” is sometimes used to describe cake made from a cake mix, but both of the cakes pictured above are professionally-made custom cakes. In both cases, the whole thing is cake, and yet there’s a window through which you can see “the cake.”

The top cake is a birthday cake and its baker (who I think is based in Connecticut) explains it this way:

“customer wanted me to recreate her husband’s favorite food!”

My Kids Are Killing Me on

The lower cake is a “groom’s cake” by Kate Sullivan of NYC-based, Cake Power:

“…for one Entenmann’s-loving groom, [she] constructed a replica of the supermarket-staple fudge cake, in its well known white-and-blue box, out of white chocolate fondant.”

Cake Power

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

Nabisco 12 Pack Cartons


These Nabisco boxes caught my eye at the supermarket for a few reasons…

a. They seem to be trompe l’oeil renditions of wrapped tray packaging—as if we were seeing the inner packs through a layer of Cellophane.

b. As such, they also suggest orthographic packaging, where the contents of a box are projected onto the side panels. I don’t really know how these packets are arranged within, but it appears they are not accurately projected on all sides.

c. Since the package design relies on illustrations of the inner packs to communicate its contents, there is an odd repetition of information when the carton contains only one type of packet. This repetition strikes me as almost Warholian. One box looks like a stack of three. Each box, a microcosm of a stacked supermarket display. The effect is more conventional (less repetitive) when the box contains a variety.


(A few more examples, after the fold…)

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Turkey Bottle


I was going to continue with “shoe week” but then I remembered that today was Thanksgiving so I figured I ought to do something holiday-related…

Happy Thanksgiving.

I found his vintage turkey bottle on GoAntiques’ website. I’m guessing most turkey-shaped figural bottles are shaped to look like live turkeys rather than roasted ones. I think this one must be unusual. I’ll go even further out on a limb and suppose that this rare bottle may have once contained something like Wild Turkey bourbon. I looks rather flask-like to me. (See also: Pig Bottles)

According to their description, this bottle is circa 1940s. In the photo above it’s marked as costing $275, but it appears to have actually sold for a hundred dollars less.

The buyer was probably thankful — the seller, perhaps, less so.

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design


Wonder Bread Shoes: 4 Pairs


As it seems to be “shoe week” here on box vox, I thought I’d go ahead and take a look at some of the footwear that’s been wearing Wonder Bread’s “trade dress” in the last couple of years…

1. An And1 “wear test sample” that was never manufactured for mass consumption.

2. Wonder Bread style Pro Keds. Their tagline: “the best thing since sliced bread.” Photo via: PBNation (See also: Bread and Sneakers)

3. Wonder Bread bags as shoes worn by Moe from The Simpsons in an episode entitled, “the Grift of the Magi.”

4. The Wonder Bread “color way” for polka dot BAPE Stas.

(Moe’s shoe video, more of And1 and another example, after the fold…)

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Bottle Cap Shoes


I didn’t understand these at first: pictures online of miniature sneakers mounted on top of bottle caps, but no pictures of the caps on a bottle. Turns out to be some sort of Adidas/Pepsi promotion from 2008:

Adidas & Pepsi [Japan] team up with [these] limited edition … Adidas … on a Pepsi bottle cap. The cap doesn’t actually fit onto a bottle as it is meant for display purposes although it looks very similar.


All photos from Butsuyoku. Collect all 60.

(57 more, after the fold…)

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Shoe Bottles


Two shoe-shaped bottles from Ideal Industrial Limited: the “Sports Shoe Shape Glass Bottle With Cork (SHB001)” and the “Glass Bottle in Female Shoe Shape (ISB018).”

These two bottles remind me of Glenn O’Brien’s observations about men dressing too casually on dates with dressed-up women. (See: How to be a Man.)  Most shoe-shaped bottles are either men’s sneakers or women’s high heel shoes. What sort of products would come in figural bottles like these?

Mary+Queen+of+ShopsHigh-heel shoe-shaped bottles have sometimes been used to contain liqueurs and perfumes and liquid soap might give us cause to look at “women’s pumps” from a whole new angle…

Marks and Spencer used the exact same ISB018 “female shoe shaped” bottle for their 2008 chocolate dairy milk liqueur, below.  Although, in their case, they used a stopper rather than a twist off cap and there’s the added hangtag and ribbon. (via: Cool Buzz)

Choco-liqueur-shoeI was thinking that liquid shoe polish would be a good product to package in a shoe-shaped bottle. For some reason, most vintage, shoe-shaped bottles contained ink, although I did find one shoe-shaped bottle that supposedly contained shoe polish. (the “Rockingham” bottle shown below)



(For more about shoe-shaped glass bottles see: Collectors Weekly.)


Above left: the vintage “Rockingham” shoe polish bottle (via: LiveAuctioneers); middle: an Anna Dello Russo shoe-shaped purfume bottle (via: PoisePolish); on right: a shoe bottle hookah via: SuperPiece (see also: Coke Bottle Water Pipe)

As for the sneaker-shaped bottle, Avon seems to be the only company that got into those in big way. Not surprising, since graceless, figural bottles seem to be their specialty.

(Avon sneaker-shaped bottles, after the fold…)

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Baby Shoemaker


Yesterday we looked at four makers of (adult-sized) cardboard shoes. Today we consider another ephemeral shoemaker, Catherine McEver (a.k.a. Rubblearium), whose handmade baby shoes were made from a variety of improbable materials.

Pictured above are shoes made out of emory cloth, cigarette pack foil, a sewing pattern, metal screen, sand paper and carbon paper.

… creations I made for a little art book called “All My Little Shoes,” an experiment in materials from gold mesh to meat.

Stuff You Can’t Have

In addition to her cigarette foil shoe above, another package-related shoe was made from a Campbell’s soup label. (Also awfully nice: her Astroturf shoe)

McEver recommends viewing these photos whilst listening to the Everley Brothers singing “Put My Little Shoes Away” which I am enabling you to do here…

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4 Cardboard Shoemakers


We’ve touched on the shoebox-as-shoe concept in he past, but shoes made out of cardboard may be a broader trend in its own right.

What should we call the practitioners of this craft? Cardboard shoemakers? Cardboard cobblers? Cardboard cordwainers? Whatever name we give it, I have 4 examples…

(More cardboard shoes, after the fold…)

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2 More Trapezoidal Boxes


Did a round-up of trapezoidal boxes a while back. Here are two more that I thought looked good together. They’re not new.

The one on the left is Milner Gray’s modern/classic package design for a 1950s Pyrex gift set (No.3a). I like how the handle (and the dark color) make this carton look like a hefty, 1-ton weight.  (via: BurningSettlersCabin)

The one on the right is a flat, trapezoid-shaped box for the ARC6 flashlight. (Now discontinued.)

Pairing them up together, I thought the ARC’s embossed “burst” logo sort of related to the Pyrex crown logo. And it also looks, in this photo, as if the ARC6 box had a silver-grey neutral color, matching the black & white Pyrex packaging photo. That, I think, is a misperception based on a skillfully lighted “hero shot.” The ARC6 flashlight box seems to have actually been white. (via: CPF Reviews)

(Another photo, after the fold…)

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Pensioners and Packaged Foods: Best Before …


“My wife’s 90-year-old grandmother — having lived through World War II — doesn’t believe in “best before” dates. It made eating at her house rather exciting. Sadly, she had to move to a home and clearing out her larder was as thrilling as being offered a snack. All the products here — going back decades — were, I believe, intended to be eaten.

James Kendall, “Best Before

James Kendall’s photos of vintage (but still viable?) packaged foods, I can relate to on a personal level…

My late grandmother had a similar disinclination to discard foodstuffs. An elderly box of Nesselroad Pudding in her cupboard was an ongoing joke with my brothers and me.

Of course, in these days of reality television, all types of hoarding are undergoing a closer social scrutiny. Looking at my grandmother’s situation in retrospect, I now regret the smug superiority that we felt towards her housekeeping and her kitchen.

That certainty of ours — that my grandmother was crazy to think that anyone in their right mind would consider eating her box of Nesselroad pudding — was just a part of our being young and newly competent.

“Best before…” certainly does not constitute a drop dead expiration date. It’s more like a serving suggestion, really.

Best before or best by dates appear on a wide range of frozen, dried, tinned and other foods. These dates are only advisory and refer to the quality of the product, in contrast with use by dates, which indicate that the product is no longer safe to consume after the specified date. In spite of this, about a third of food bought is thrown away while still edible.

Wikipedia’s entry on Shelf Life

It’s easy to see why older people might want to push the envelope in this regard. It might even be an inescapable geriatric rule — that as we get older, the food from our kitchen will become increasingly less appetizing to our children. Whether this will be due to failing eyesight, financial hardship or simply our own declining standards of “freshness” is hard to say. Maybe all of the above.


Even if our children become freegans, their food will certainly be fresher than the food in these photos. But so what? Assuming the meal worms and pantry moths have not beaten you to that box of pudding mix: just dust off the top and you’re good to go.

If we can set aside our personal judgments about the “freshness” of packaged products, the importance of packaging in the lives of pensioners becomes more obvious…

(Why packaged food is preferable to home-cooked, after the fold…)

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