Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Scoping out the packaging at the grocery store

I've been saving up some grocery store snapshots and I reckon I'll just lump them together into this post. Today's labels and packaging are tomorrow's history. People seemingly love to be reminded of decades-ago trips to the grocery store and the foodstuffs their parents and grandparents had in freezers and pantries. Tangibly reminded. Right now on eBay, there's a 1970s Pepperidge Farm Coconut Layer Cake box offered for $65; a 1970s Swanson Fish 'n' Chips TV dinner box for $37.50; an unused (!!) Good Seasons Zesty Italian salad dressing mix package for $25; and a 1970s Nestle oatmeal cookie mix package for $15.

What will be the grocery-shelf talkers of tomorrow? I don't know that answer. But I do know the things that catch my eye today, for various reasons.

First up, we were thrilled to come across this Tofurky product packaging that advocates for aggressive legislation that will help counteract the man-made aspects of climate change.

A July 16 article on the aptly named industry website Refrigerated & Frozen Foods states: "Tofurky, a leading independent producer of plant-based proteins in the U.S., is setting aside self-interest to call on consumers to join in the battle against climate change. For the first time, a brand is creating billboards at shelf level, dedicating its packaging to advocacy with the goal of inspiring widespread consumer action. ... Each package also features a QR code linking to a resources and activism page with additional information for consumers. Here, visitors can register to vote, find phone numbers and text services for their representatives, sign pledges and have access to scripts to use when contacting policy makers. There are also additional statistics to learn more about getting involved in the fight for change." 

Bravo Tofurky! Your products continue to be worthy of strong support by people who are conscientious about their food choices. And, yes, we need a Green New Deal, dammit.

Second is another plant-based product, but I'm presenting it for a different reason. Wicked is a company dedicated to selling, in its words, "delicious flavor-first, convenient plant-based foods from lunch and breakfast options to dinner, snacks, and desserts." That's good enough, all by itself. But its packaging is amusing and eye-catching. Full disclosure: I bought this one half for the food, and half because I never thought I'd see a food label sporting the word amazeballs.
I have childhood nostalgia for the monster cereals (Count Chocula, Franken Berry and Boo Berry), because I saw those commercials endlessly during Saturday morning cartoons. Mom smartly never put them in the shopping cart, though, so they remained an Aspirational Sugar Cereal, alongside other stuff Mom would never buy, most notably Lucky Charms and Cap'n Crunch. (We did, however, get Cocoa Pebbles, so it was never quite clear where the line was.)

Ashar, meanwhile, finds the monster cereals fascinating because they have marshmallows and because they're a groovy relic from long, long, long ago. (Sigh.) He likes to read about their history and, more than that, he likes to try them out and see if they're any good. So, during this year's seasonal re-release of the monster cereals, he's tried — and I've tried for the very first time — Boo Berry and Franken Berry. (The Count Chocula sold out in a flash, so we didn't get to try that this year.) I found the Boo Berry pretty respectable (for a monster cereal), but the Franken Berry wasn't my jam, no pun intended. Ashar liked them both. "Pretty tasty," he said. He also wanted to collect the boxes after we finished the cereals, because he's totally my son that way. 
Finally, another thing I'm nostalgic for is products containing my No. 1 favorite food: peanut butter. I sent out this tweet earlier this summer in honor of three favorites that are produced no more: PB Max, Milk Break Milk Bars, and Peanut Butter Boppers. I don't miss them enough to buy empty packaging on eBay, though.

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