Black and Shiny and Tastes Like Glycyrrhiza Glabra

Don’t tell me you don’t like licorice. Even if you insist that you don’t, your mouth will water at the sight of this packaging and identity. Amarelli is an Italian licorice manufacturer—but not just any licorice or any manufacturer. It is a company that understands—indeed, savors—great graphic design. I’m a sucker for its delicious heritage and (not retro!) allure, appetizingly designed by Angelini Design in Rome. The vintage style can be a cross to bear, but Angelini handles this typography and decoration with such precise nuance that it never falls into the realm of kitsch or anachronism. A big bravissimo for their talents.

Incidentally, the Amarelli company was founded in 1731, in the region of Calabria—where, since 1500, the Amarelli family has made concoctions using the root of Glycyrrhiza glabra (“sweet root”), from which they extract  juice to make liquorice. This shiny black candy became a favorite of children and adults and continues to hold sway. The entire story of liquorice’s birth can be found at the Giorgio Amarelli Museum of the Liquorice, in the family’s old mansion. You can also chew on the design of the museum’s website here. Then tell me you don’t like liquorice.

For more on packaging design, check out the book Boxed and Labelled, now on sale at For more Steven Heller, don’t miss his live DesignCast, “Researching Design History: From a Personal Perspective,” taking place on Wednesday, June 27.

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