It should come as no surprise. Someone actually designed this stuff. Yes, these vintage, so-called “vernacular,” packaged food boxes, cans and labels from the ’40s and ’50s – when supermarkets were on the rise – were, in fact, designed by trained designers in design departments. You only have to refer to the postwar Packaging Case Histories series from United States Printing and Lithography Co. (U.S.P. & L) headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, to get the skinny on the success of their designs.
“In the coming competitive battle for sales your package will be called upon to sell as never before. Furthermore, the trend to self service merchandising places an unprecedented sales responsibility on the package design. It must have attention value to attract the self-service customer. It must excite and hold consumer interest in the product. . . . . At this time, U.S.P. & L is helping hundreds of progressive manufacturers improve their packages for these competitive marketing conditions.”
Interestingly, and this is not in the case history, U.S.P. & L was involved in a Supreme Court reversal of suit on trademark infringement in 1929 in which Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes delivered the opinion of the court. Read it here.
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