Ratcheting Down Product Package Design for Kids

candy-cigarettes1-300x300With American culture becoming an open book, unashamed to show every dark corner of itself for all the world to see and to judge  — think VMAs, social media and selfies — children’s product package designers seem to have dialed back its once independent bad boy exterior and replaced it, at least in the candy segment, by benign design, a far cry from the pioneer candy makers and candy designers of the early 20th Century.

When I was a kid, we loved candy cigarettes. Sure they sound horrific today, but they were delicious. Yes, we would pretend to smoke them, but according to FatSecret.com, each cigarette was only eight calories and we never lit them.

Chicken Dinner Candy was well before my time, but I’m willing to bet that any one who has chickendinnerstudied package design has heard about this Sperry Candy Company’s product (right). It launched back in the late 1920′s, mocking Hoover’s campaign promise of “a chicken in every pot.” Of course, the Chicken Dinner bar had no chicken, it was chocolate with nuts and did well throughout the Great Depression.

Here’s another confection that looked like it probably had a good run in the 50s and 60s - “Lik-m-aid.” To prove my theory, there are still products around today that were slightly more flamboyant in their youth and have changed directions: likmaidReese’s vintagereesesand Snickers. They’ve given up their loose lives in favor of something more sensible.

Product package design for kids, and especially in the candy space, has gotten away from the kitsch or flamboyant graphics that once ruled the space. In fact, as public culture has uppsnickered their game on exposing children to more adult images, candy manufacturers’ packaging seems to have quietly become more simple and linear. But, you decide. Tweet me @printmag and tell me what you think.


This year’s Dieline Package Design Conference produced some of the most important content to date on the evolution of product packaging design as well as ways designers can affect their global and social brand conversation, simply through packaging design.

The Dieline Package Design Conference Collection cover product package design from groceries to computers and challenged the audience to find was to connect with their audience via the web or their tablet. Stefan Hartung and Jennifer Sall introduced attendees to innovators of breakfast cereal packaging and other consumer product. This session is included is this collection. Product packaging has an affect on brands, images and more.

If you love the idea of product packaging, designing an experience or even disrupting an entire industry, this collection is for you!  Click here to purchase the entire Dieline Package Design Collection for just $49.99.

As for Snicker and Reese’s, I’ll let you decide if I’m making too much of my theory.

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