Camouflage Package Design Continued


Lest anyone imagine that camouflage patterns were confined only to beverage packaging, here are some recent examples of camouflage package design, in general.

Because of its star logo, Amour Star seems ready-made for a patriotic camouflage treatment, although it’s debatable how American a “Vienna Sausage” can ever be. (Designed by Bob Oliva)

Jiffy Pop, too, has undergone camouflage treatment. (Via: Lester Of Puppets’s Flickr Photostream)

Powderflage” powder concealer comes in a camouflage canister. (Note how its camo pattern is made of butterflies.)

Srixon’s camouflaged USO golf balls pack, we’ve mentioned before.

Yoder’s canned bacon comes in a camouflage patterned can.

A Bathing Ape” (aka: BAPE) has for a while featured camouflage patterns in its branding.

And Huggie’s diapers have also supported our troops through camouflage patterning.

Also: camouflage candy…


and camouflage peanuts, for some reason.


(and one more example, after the fold…)

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Camouflage Pattern Beverage Branding

CamouflageBeerCansOn left: Camouflage pattern Miller beer can (from: The Sparkler); on right: Busch beer’s autumnal camouflage (from: 2CoolFishing message board)

Originally developed as a functional pattern (as opposed to a decorative pattern) camouflage might seem an odd choice for product packaging since the pattern is meant to conceal.

Usually product packages are designed to attract attention so it’s striking when a package is designed to disappear into the background. Of course, the environment of store shelves is quite different from outdoor environments. So what blends into the background in the desert sands might actually be quite conspicuous at the grocery store. And vice versa.

Probably the point of using camo in this context has more to do with masculine connotations of hunting and military service than in concealment.

Miller Brewing had this to says about it’s limited edition camouflage packaging:

“Miller High Life is again honoring its century-old connection with the outdoors by introducing limited-edition, camouflaged packaging and cans of Miller High Life and Miller High Life Light.”

MillerCamoPhoto, above right, from Wishful Slacker

CamoBeverageCans2009 Vault Citrus camouflage can from ebid; photo on right from Eating in Translation

It should also be noted that there are products available for camouflaging beer cans…


(One more thing about camouflage beverage branding…)

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Camouflage Cans

Definition of “Camouflage Can”…

A can produced in olive green for the U.S. military from 1944-45. It used to be thought that the cans were colored olive green as camouflage, but it is now generally believed that they were painted green simply because the US Army had almost everything it purchased painted that color. Most camouflage cans are rare and are highly desirable to collectors. Many were shipped to troops overseas and so cannot be found in the US easily.

from Rusty Can

(Also called “olive drab” or “OD” cans.)

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

Schweppes Anthro-Pack Christmas


I’ve been cataloging appearances of anthropomorphic packages in advertising for some time now. I have little evidence that anyone else cares about this, but I’m not shy or skittish about beating a dead horse… These examples are part of the 1950s—60s Schweppes campaign called “Schweppshire.”

Meant as a humorous reference to Christmas shopping days, the headline for these ads is “How many Schwepping Days To Christmas?” To my ears, “Schwepping” sounds a lot closer to “schlepping” than “shopping.” But “schlepping” is also a pretty apt description of what the shopping experience can be like at this time of year.

Most of these ads were illustrated by  George Him, except for the one with Santa conducting the singing bottles, which was drawn by E.R. Bartelt.

(The ads, in the entirety, after the fold…)

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A “Penny Machine” for Christmas

Z0049567Photo via: The National Museum of Play

Above: something I once wanted and didn’t get. Anyone who grew up celebrating a consumer Christmas has one of these. Not necessarily this toy in particular, but something they wanted for Christmas—something they asked Santa Claus for—and did not receive. The “Penny Machine” is the one that I remember.

I had forgotten that it was called a Coney Island Penny Machine, I’m pretty sure it was just a “Penny Machine” that I told my mother was my number 1 Christmas wish. Clearly, the Remco television commercial below was what sold me on this product.

I must have been a pretty avaristic child to want a toy that endlessly dispensed other toys. Sort of like the trick of using your wish to ask for more wishes.

I hadn’t remembered the commercial being so olde-timey. I don’t think I would have identified much with the boy in the commercial, although I totally identify with the boy on the box—(who looks just me at that age). Perhaps it was the fantasy of impressing a girl with my skill in winning prizes that explains this commercial’s effect on me. Never mind that the carnival attraction, in this case, would have been located in my toy box.

Whatever desires it unleashed in me, my mother didn’t seem as impressed with this product or its commerical. Had it been a birthday request, I might have worked harder to persuade her. With Christmas, however, I figured it didn’t much matter what she thought about it. As long as I was right with Santa, it needn’t concern her. My record of good behavior stood for itself and made me confident that the Remco prize-dispensing machine would soon be my prized possession.

I know this sounds a lot like Ralphie and the Red Ryder BB gun in “A Christmas Story” which is embarrassing, but remember: in that movie [spoiler alert] he ultimately got what he asked for. The significance of not getting what you ask for is different.

Not that I’m whining about it now or that I had gotten everything I ever wanted up until that Christmas. But it’s the first thing that I can remember specifically asking Santa for, that I later noticed I didn’t get. Which raised certain existential questions…

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

Roly Poly Clown Containers and the Santa-Clown Hybrid

RolyPolyClowns1: “vintage Russian celluloid roly-poly ding clown doll 60s” (via: eBay); 2: a toy from The Canadian Design Resource site; 3: a Weeble clown from Abraracourcix’s Flickr Photostream; 4: roly poly clown from Live Auctioneers

RolyPolyClownBBFollowing up on Monday’s “Mr. Sprinkles” bottles, another point of reference for their weeble-like bottle shape was probably vintage “roly poly” toys of this type. Sometimes used as containers, as with the “Roly Poly Clown Bubble Bath” bottle on right and the antique “Clown Roly Poly Candy Container” below.

VintageCandyContainer But my real agenda, in bringing this up, is that I needed a way to segue from clowns to Christmas, and the roly poly thing seems to provide that. The grouping of roly poly Santas below is from Sushipot.

RolyPolySantasLeft: 1930s tin roly poly Santa (via: Antique Trader); center: reproduction of a 1900s roly poly Santa tobacco tin container (via: Ruby Lane); on right: Celluloid Sata Claus roly poly toy (also via: Ruby Lane)

But Santa Claus and clowns have more in common than just roly poly toys and containers. They both wear unusual outfits, often with similar hats. It was inevitable that the characters would someday be merged:

Depending on who you ask, Santa Clown is either a hilarious or thoroughly terrifying combination of two well known figures: Santa Claus and a Circus Clown.

What is Santa Clown? (via: Info Barrel)

(Santa Clown imagery, after the fold…)

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Mr. Sprinkles Package Design Makeover



An exception to the general waning of CPG clown packaging:

“Mr. Sprinkles,” (whose weeble-like bottle won the 2009 “Gold” award from the National Association of Container Distributors) has recently been redesigned.

Originally the bottle was more closely akin to inflatable punching bag clowns (see inset right) but, while the overall effect of the new package design is less of a fully-embodied, anthropomorphic pack, the new clown illustration is now more identifiable and less threatening. The product still shows through the window into the clown’s sprinkle-filled belly.

The illustration style looks familiar. (Maybe someone knows whose work this is?)

Photo above left comes from the orginal “Mr. Spinkles” trademark filing. The photo above right is from Bakerella.

(See also: Gömböc Bottle)

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

Clown Cereal

ClownCerealsClown cereal boxes (Kellogg’s, General Mills & Post) were, I think, all from Dan Goodsell’s Flickr Photostream

My early childhood was spent in Sarasota, Florida, home of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College.

While clowns have been culturally waning for some time now, in those days, there was a show called “Circus Boy” on television (starring a young Micky Dolenz who grew up to become the Monkee‘s drummer) and there were lots of circus-themed packages at the grocery store. Not yet scary, clowns were still considered a good way to market children’s cereals.

Why the sudden interest in clowns, you ask?

(Asked and answered, after the fold…)

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Dan Witz: Bar Shrine Paintings

1-bar“Shrine” (I’ve also seen this painting titled as “Bar”) 2006, 68×40 oil and mixed media on canvas

Dan Witz (mentioned in yesterday’s post) was one of several roommates that I shared a low-ceilinged, South Street Seaport loft with in the late 1970s.

I like his paintings of liquor bottles. The one above from 2006 seems to have two different titles: “Bar” and “Shrine.” His later liquor bottle paintings from 2010 seem to have combined these two titles into “Bar Shrine.”

I can find nothing online to suggest that it’s intentional, but the painting above looks like a skull to me. A subliminal vanitas symbol for a splendid array of liquor choices? (Death-as-bartender: “Name your poison!”)

2-bar_tryptch_2009Bar Shrine #2 Triptych, 2010, 56" x 84" oil and digital media on canvas

(One more “Bar Shrine” painting, after the fold…)

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Ron English: Popaganda Shopdropping


Ron English is the artist who created the zipper/banana album cover mash-up that we wrote about last January.

More recently he’s been doing some cereal box package design (i.e.: art) which he’s been shopdropping into supermarkets. These “popaganda” food repacks are subversive in the same dumb sort of way that Wacky Packages were: creating momentary consumer confusion and adding a satiric, negative spin to trademarked food brands.


Some commentators have taken the cereal series as nutritional agitprop in opposition of childhood obesity. I’m not sure that English’s agenda is so politically correct, but I could be wrong.

The fun part of shopdropping, however, is when consumers puzzle over the aberrant branding messages and, in some cases, blithely purchase them.


Part of the reason I prefer not think that English’s messaging is sincerely literal is the “Sugar Diabetic Bear” below, which in my (diabetic) view is amusing, but not entirly accurate. Yes, Type 2 diabetes can be brought on by obesity, but what about Type 1 diabetes? Eating sugar certainly didn’t cause my diabetes. (See: Diabetes Myths)


(One more thing about Ron English and diabetes, after the fold…)

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Bottles with Embroidered Shirt Labels


Another example of cross-category, clothing-related package design: Eau de Lacoste “Poloshirt in a Fragrance” bottles with their alligator shirt embem. Note the fabric texture on the sides of the bottle. (See also: Package as Clothing)


My earliest memory of an embroidered alligator emblem was when my mother in the late 1950s or early 1960s created some counterfeit Lacoste shirts for my grandfather, my father, me & my little brother. This was motivated more by the alligator than the brand status, I think, since we lived in south Florida, not so far from the Everglades. (See also: Crocodile Boxes—Alligator Bags)

Still, my mother must have been aware that the Lacaoste alligator emblem was a self-proclaimed “status symbol.”

René Lacoste founded La Chemise Lacoste in 1933 with André Gillier, the owner and president of the largest French knitwear manufacturing firm at the time. They began to produce the revolutionary tennis shirt Lacoste had designed and worn on the tennis courts with the crocodile logo embroidered on the chest. Although the company claims this as the first example of a brand name appearing on the outside of an article of clothing, the “Jantzen girl” logo appeared on the outside of Jantzen Knitting Mills’ swimsuits as early as 1921. In addition to tennis shirts, Lacoste produced shirts for golf and sailing. In 1951, the company began to expand as it branched from “tennis white” and introduced color shirts. In 1952, the shirts were exported to the United States and advertised as “the status symbol of the competent sportsman,” influencing the clothing choices of the upper-class. Lacoste was sold at Brooks Brothers until the late 1960’s. It is still one of the most popular brands in the United States, sporting the “preppy wardrobe”.

from Wikipedia’s entry on history of Lacoste

Invariably, when packaging serves as a metaphor for clothing, a consumer naturally tends to anthopomorphize and even identify with the product contained.

(The advertising, after the fold…)

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