Liberty Bell Jars

Nash’s Prepared Mustard was sold in a number of different figural glass jars —(that could often be reused as children’s coin banks)— and in the late 1940s or early 1950s one of these jars was “Liberty Bell” shaped. (Jar on left from eBay $39.99; jar on right from eBid $19.99)

It’s customary for sellers of antique glassware to stipulate to any chips or cracks, but, with Liberty Bell jars, it’s interesting to see whether the seller will notice the paradox of a glass reproduction of the famously cracked Liberty Bell. Some don’t seem to notice it:

“Shape of liberty bell jar is in very good condition. No chips, no cracks.”

Others do:

“imitation” crack that you would find on the real Liberty Bell


“The jar has no chips or cracks except the crack that is suppose to be on the liberty bell.”

“Liberty Bell Bottle Bank” from Anderson Militia, $25

Kraft also came out with a mustard in this type of jar and later, in 1976, Liberty Bell jars enjoyed a brief Bicentennial renaissance as containers for maraschino cherries, Spanish olives and probably other patriotic foods, as well.

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

The Old Package Design Feed Bag

If you read this blog by way of email subscription or RSS feed, you may have wondered why box vox suddenly stopped posting this past week. The fact is, I’ve had my hands full trying to migrate this blog from TypePad to a WordPress site hosted on our own BeachPackagingDesign site. There were actually three posts made since the switch, but it only dawned on me yesterday that feed subscribers were being orphaned by the move. Now that I’ve updated the RSS feed, I’m hoping everyone who opted in will continue receiving our ultra-significant package design missives.

Feed Bags: 3 kinds

1. Feed bags for horses (sold for $88.13 at Cowan Auctions)

2. Bag packaging for animal feed (for sale for $14 from shepshaberdashery’s Etsy Store)

3. Candy “feeding bags” from a vintage ad in a 1911 issue of International Confectioner, sold for only 1¢ each (via: The Candy Professor)

Package Design & Wolverine Toy Refrigerator Doors

Left: photo from The T-Cozy’s Flickr Photostream; on right photo from The House of Oliver’s Etsy store ($29)

We’ve shown similar toys with trompe l’oeil name brand packages printed on them —(toy shopping carts, miniature dollhouse packages, etc.)— but I recently got a glimpse inside a Wolverine brand toy fridge.

Originally, toys like the pink refrigerator on the right (with “a full larder reproduced on door insides”) retailed for only $2.98, but as a collectible the price is now higher. (Wolverine advertising photo via: The People History)

I’ve lost track of some of these photo sources, but 2nd row, left: from Live Auctioneers; on right: from MarkandBlyth’s Flickr Photostream; 3rd row, left: from The T-Cozy; on right: from RainbowMermaid’s Flickr Photostream; 4th row, left from Schaufensterbabe; on right: from eBay Auction ($19) bottom row, right: pink fridge from TwirlswithPearls’ Etsy Store

With the doors of the refrigerators permanently stocked with food packaging, we wondered what sort of packaging the toys, themselves came in.

(Asked and answered after the fold…)

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Ceci n’est pas une Skippers pipe

Jonna Perdersen (whose sculptures we looked at yesterday) entitled the painting above “This Is a Pipe.” Making clever use of a brand of licorice pipes that I was not aware of —“Skippers Pipes”—and making reference to that popular paradox of representational art: The Treachery of Images by René Magritte. In Magritte’s painting a pipe appears above a caption that declares in French, “This is not a pipe”…

The famous pipe. How people reproached me for it! And yet, could you stuff my pipe? No, it’s just a representation, is it not? So if I had written on my picture “This is a pipe,” I’d have been lying!

In Pedersen’s painting, Magritte’s paradox is given an additional twist, since the product portrayed is, itself, a faux pipe. [Full disclosure: when I was in art school, I combined a 6 inch lenngth of galvanized heating pipe with an elbow joint (forming a pipe-like shape) and gave it the old “Ceci n’est pas une pipe inscription.]

Originally trademarked in 1966 by Chicago based Leaf Brands, Inc., the product has recently come under fire as a simulated tobacco candy product.(like candy cigarettes) and appears to be somewhat discontinued. That is to say, I can find no mention of it on Leaf’s web site.

Matching Skippers Pipes wrapper photo from mulch.thief’s Flickr Photostream

Upper left: photo from Christiane Torden; on right: counter top display box from Fine Little Day; lower photo from After The Denim

Note how the lower box has additional faux features. This is not a wooden gift box tied up with red string.

(My own non.jpgpe work, after the fold…)

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Jonna Pedersen’s Package Sculptures

“Magic Maggi” ©2012 Jonna Pedersen, Mixed media on card board, 104 x 82 x 41 cm

MyMargarineLast August we featured some of Jonna Pedersen’s paintings of Danish packaging.

Her contribution to the upcoming, Global Village 2012 show in Alkmaar, Holland, includes two over-sized package sculptures: a Maggi Bouillon box (above) and the margarine package on right.

(“My Margarine” ©2012 Jonna Pedersen, Mixed media on card board, 104 x 82 x 41 cm)

–Randy Ludacer

Astronaut Water Revisited

Gemini9A detail from cbelt123’s photo, “Astronaut water from my dad’s basement

Back in 2009, I wrote a post about Canada Dry’s mysterious Astronaut Water that, in the 1960s, came in a space capsule shaped plastic bottle. Clearly, the product was connected to the Gemini space program, but I couldn’t understand how plain, bottled water could have been promoted in those days as a kids’ beverage—even if it was the same stuff the astronauts drank in outer space.

Recently I was contacted by John MacLean, now head of Target Flavors, who, in the 1960s had worked at Canada Dry Laboratories and was uniquely qualified to clear things up for me.


McDonnellMaclean, shown in a 1965 press clipping above (holding, what I believe is, a Gemini “8” Astronaut Water bottle like the one on the left) explained to me that, despite its commerical packaging, Astronaut Water was never meant to be retail product. A small number of these bottles were distributed to the press as part of a promotional campaign to publicize Canada Dry’s important contribution to the space program.

John S. MacLean of Danbury, Conn., analytical chemist who drew up specifications for the water, holds a sample bottle of the triple distilled liquid. Not for sale to the public, Astronaut Water undergoes a thorough inspection at Greenwich Canada Dry Laboratories before it is used in space flights for drinking, reconstituting dehydrated foods and purging space capsule systems.

An unidentified Connecticut Newspaper, 1965

In contrast to today’s packaged water, which is generally promoted for its natural purity, Astronaut Water was publicized as a space-age engineering feat. Triple distilled in a platinum block… So pure that it doesn’t conduct electricity… (More of the water’s technical specs appeared in the 1966 “Press Reference Book” for Gemini Spacecraft Number Eleven, prepared by the External Relations Division, McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, on right)

The Gemini “8” bottle was an ordinary glass beverage-bottle, but for the Gemini “9” version, they really pulled out the stops, opting for the plastic, space capsule shaped bottle. Although MacLean could not confirm this, it seems likely that the matching space-capsule-shaped-bottle-shaped savings bank (below) was part of the same publicity campaign.


Once it had been made clear to me that it was journalists (and not children) who were the intended demographic for bottled Astronaut Water, I wondered if there were any articles to be found online about it…

(Astronaut Water meets the Press, after the fold…)

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Super PAC Packaging

As we enjoy a new, hyperbolic political season, generously funded by large amounts of Super Political Action Committee money, I thought it might be a good time to take a look at some earlier types of Super Pac.

Not surprisingly, the name was previously associated with packaging.

SuperPac, Inc., whose logo appears at top, offers “A Tradition of Excellence in Flexographic Printing.”

SuperPAC™ (logo: above center) is a trademark of Thomasville Furniture:

Thomasville’s promise to provide our customers with the best overall kitchen, bath, and other room solutions initiated our development of SuperPAC, our patent pending packaging technique.

And SuperPac is also the name of a British company that makes a car stereo accessory. (Logo by Frankman Design)

Superpac is the new way to hold your detachable car stereo front. Designed to replace the dull black plastic case supplied with most car stereos, the Superpac offers you a stylish way to protect your cherished face-off style car stereo.

Mastey de Paris carries a SuperPac “Intensive Reconstructor Conditioner for Stressed, Damaged Hair” (above, right)

Superpac reconstructs damaged hair, rebuilding and reinforcing the hair’s protein chains. Superpac enables hair to retain its elasticity and structural integrity with newfound bounce and resilience.

Mastey de Paris

There was also a Timberland Super Pac boot. (via: Gwar Izm)

Nowadays, a candidate whose political campaign benefits from Super PAC money is not supposed to “coordinate directly” with his or her Super PAC benefactor. In practice, however, a candidate’s Super PAC is often run by a close ally—a Super PAC man(e.g., Jon Stewart is Steven Colbert’s “Super PAC man”)

Not to be confused with an earlierSuper Pac-Man.”

SuperPac-ManTop & center: Commodore 64 “Super Pac-Man” packaging from Moby Games; bottom photo: a General Mills Pac-Man cereal with “Super Pac-Man Marshmallows” from Jason Liebig’s flickr Photostream

Now, if we were willing to be more liberal about the spelling of the term—accepting say “PAK” as a reasonable variant (as in Political Action Kommittee?)—then there’s even more to think about.

(More, after the fold…)

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Purple Cow Packaging

PurpleCow-PackagingVintage Holloway’s Purple Cow candy wrapper from Jason LieBig’s Flickr Photostream; William’s Purple Cow Lager can from The Beer Can Guide; Milka Chocolate’s purple cow shaped folding carton (via: Packaging of the World); a vintage “purple cow” fruit label for Washington apples for sale on eBay ($250)

Based on an 1895 poem by Gelett Burgess, a “purple cow” generally meant something “out of the ordinary” or something you don’t see every day. As depicted in these vintage packages, each with its whimsical cow illustration, the concept was fine.

I’m not so accepting of the new over-arching definition of “purple cow” as something remarkably innovative, as set forth in Seth Godin’s book, Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable. Because of this book, some people are now calling any ground-breaking, category disrupting product a “purple cow.”

For some reason, I find this new meaning a loathsome thing. To me, the name “purple cow” diminishes the hard work of innovation, making it sound like something merely capricous.

I doubt Steve Jobs would ever have given one of Apple’s products as insipid a name as “purple cow” and yet all over the place there are people now saying that the iPad and the iPhone are “purple cows.”

You need look no further than the scapbooking craft company The Purple Cows to understand the uncool connotations that this name carries.

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

NOS Consumer Confusion

Nos_energy_drink NOS-tankI’d seen “NOS” energy drink around for a while, but aside from noticing that the logo was sort of clunky and spelled “son” if you looked at it upside down, I didn’t think too much about it.

I hadn’t realized it was named after a leading brand of nitrous oxide. Or that “NOS” stands for “Nitrous Oxide Systems.”

Considering all the attention paid to the negative influence of energy drink brands with names like “Cocaine” and “Hemp,” I was surprised not to have known about a “Nitrous Oxide” energy drink.

NOS even put out a version of their bottle, designed to resemble a Nitrous Oxide Systems tank, but it’s more about caffeinated racing cars, than huffing inhalants, apparently.

NOS 22oz PET was awarded BevNET’s Best of 2007 for Packaging Innovation…

“The authentic package design of NOS 22oz PET was inspired by the actual nitrous oxide canister, developed by Holley Performance Products, which prompted the design and use of ‘valve’ over caps,” said Bill Meissner, Chief Marketing Officer at FUZE Beverages.

The packaging is instantly recognizable and the association with Holley’s Nitrous Oxide canisters has been well received by customers, vaulting NOS to No. 7 in the energy drink category.

Packaging Europe

With such similar looking packages in different product categories, is there any danger of consumer confusion, a la Skinny & Sweet?

(More confusion, after the fold…)

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TV Remote Bottle Openers


These four examples explored below…

1. The Clicker: a universal remote control with an integrated bottle opener feature, invented by David Dignam. ($24.99 with free shipping)


As with any good idea, the Clicker was inspired by hanging out with friends and drinking a few beers… in Wisconsin. David Dignam, the inventor of the Clicker, was traveling back home to New York from a long Thanksgiving weekend hanging with the guys in a small town in western Wisconsin (hometown to one of the guys). The idea hit him, “why not combine a universal remote control and bottle opener, and have one less thing to have to look for in your own home”. Thus, the Clicker was born, the ideal union of two of the most important items in the home: the remote control and bottle opener (for some people)

2. Magnetic Remote Control Shaped Bottle Opener: a sort of “fridge magnet” bottle opener that happens to be shaped like a TV remote. Does not appear to actually change channels. Buttons include “OK” and “Hello.” ($1.49)


“This bottle opener is designed with like real remote control appearance and it is quite absorbing. You may think it is a remote control when they take a glance. But it is a bottle opener in fact.”

3. The “2006 World Cup Party Edition” of the Philips Universal Remote Control. (Not sure if this is still available, but at one time it cost $12.50)


“With this special edition remote control you’ll be more than ready for the 2006 World Cup. It even comes with a bottle opener, scorecard and extra battery, so you won’t miss a moment of the action.”

4. The Pop Pops Remote Control Bottle Opener by Russ: a faux remote control, but a real bottle opener, packaged in a bottle-shaped blister pack. ($6.99)


“This cleverly designed remote control themed bottle opener is what you need to get the drinks and the conversation flowing! Hand painted, along with very detailed accents and a metal opener add style and functionality to this classic item.”

(See also: bottle-shaped bottle openers)

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design