(7 examples, after the fold…)
The earliest example above is the 1928 inside-out Ives Toys train set package:
Inside Out Box — The box itself is a 1928 box with all the printing on the inside, these were used for Special or Promotional sets Circa 1929-193? The example [above] is unique in that both the bottom and top of box are 1928 Corporation boxes turned inside out.
Sometimes it’s the consumer who want to “debrand” the packaging by relegating all the commercial branding to the hidden interior of a package. This is often done for ecological reasons — to reuse a retail package as a gift box, or a mailing carton. Other times it’s done to create storage container with less “visual noise.”
Other times the motivation for turning a package inside-out is artistic…
In some cases, a package is designed to be reversible with a “less noisy” interior as a selling point—a way of making the packaging a feature of the product…
But sometimes using an inside out package is a very bad idea.
A 1991 study found that consumers who turned bread bag packaging inside-out to store food, were putting themselves at higher risk for lead contamination. (Since the printing inks on the outside of the bags often contained lead.)
Soft plastic bread packaging: lead content and reuse by families
Of the 41 reusers, 23 do so after turning the package inside out, and 17 of these families report using the bags while inside out for food storage. Thus 17 of the 106 respondents (16 percent) store food in contact with the painted label.
Preliminary analyses indicate no relationship between respondents’ level of education and package reuse, although respondents who attended graduate or professional school are somewhat more likely to tum the bags inside out. Similarly, no obvious or significant relationship emerges for respondents who are full-time homemakers compared with those working outside the home. Anecdotal information suggests that the rationale for turning the bag inside out before reuse includes removal of bread crumbs that might become moldy, and drying the inside of the
bag which picked up moisture from the bread. We were told of paint flaking from the inverted package onto stored food.
Although presenting an unnecessary risk to health which should be discontinued, we do not believe it likely that the use of inverted bread packaging to store or transport food presents an immediate threat to the health of family members necessitating an emergency response. However, obtaining blood free erythrocyte protoporphyrin or lead levels is a valuable part of the routine medical evaluation of all young children and is particularly important for high-risk groups. Until this use of lead is prohibited, plastic packaging should not be turned inside out to store or transport food.
See also: Upside-Down Branding