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from the Golden Age of mindless consumption!
December 9, 2012 1:52 AM   Subscribe

Many of you Americans of a certain age (say, um, 40 to 60-somethings?) may find the Flickr set Museum of American Packaging (comprising 1,711 photos) to be a certain kind of stroll down a certain offshoot of the proverbial Memory Lane.
posted by flapjax at midnite (50 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't care how old you are, I will eat you straight from the can.


Man, this is amazing - not just for nostalgia purposes, but for sheer typographical delight.
posted by Katemonkey at 2:22 AM on December 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, this is really neat. I love old skool packaging like this.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:33 AM on December 9, 2012


I think my grandmother still has a lot of these in her basement.
posted by gracedissolved at 2:48 AM on December 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


*scratches neck*

I gotta head down to my jif dealer's shack...anyone got 5 bucks to lend me?
posted by mannequito at 2:51 AM on December 9, 2012


Cool designs I think. By the way, I'm 41 and this stuff predates me.
posted by melt away at 2:54 AM on December 9, 2012


The Gerber Baby is now an old woman.
posted by twoleftfeet at 2:58 AM on December 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


By the way, I'm 41 and this stuff predates me.

Yeah, I kinda thought, just after I posted, that 40-somethings shouldn't have been included in that parenthetical aside. Oh well, chalk it up to the OP not wanting to face how old he actually is. Perhaps I wanted to feel in the company of summa you younger folk.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:08 AM on December 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


Andy... Andy... you won't believe this. They're doing that now. In rows and rows. Andy Warhol, are you there?
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:14 AM on December 9, 2012


Just discovered, via one of the photos in the linked set, a pretty cool Flickr group:

Coffee: A Damn Fine Product [VINTAGE]
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:24 AM on December 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm 39 and I remember the metal Quik containers with the round, friction-fit lid. I really like them from every point of view except ease-of-use. It's impossible to get the last two scoops out of that thing.

Whoa, the Hy-Vee orange juice blows my mind. It was bought 20 minutes from my house at the time I was living there. We used to go to Hy-Vee all the time and I think we drank gallons of that OJ. I don't know why it had to be gotten from an antique store in 1988, though. You could get it at the store at the same time.

Kodak Fotomats are another thing a 40 year old should be able to remember. They still had these well into the 80s.
posted by DU at 4:03 AM on December 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, I'm in my mid-40s, and I recognize many of these packages, although I never bought very many of them myself. Stuff from the 50s predates me, but I was born in the late 60s, and we had many of the pictured things in the house long enough for me to remember them.

Seeing Wonder Bread was a bit of a nostalgia rush. We kids thought that bread was so much better than the normal crap bread we were supposed to eat. Sure, we heard all the 'but it's not nutritious!' stuff from our parents, but we didn't care. We didn't get much of it, but we wanted it.

I think, in retrospect, I just liked the sweetness. There was a lot of sugar in that bread, and whatever the starch was, it also broke down into sugar very quickly. It's hard to remember, as an adult, how seductive sweetness is to a kid.
posted by Malor at 4:06 AM on December 9, 2012


And, even now, when I think of Wonder Bread, I think of that package design. It assume it must have changed since, and I don't think it's nearly as popular as it once was, but I remember when it was The Cool Thing To Eat.
posted by Malor at 4:07 AM on December 9, 2012


Oh, you know, I should link to what I'm talking about, one picture in 1700:

Wonder Bread Sample Package.

I don't remember the little smiley face, but the white wrapper and dot pattern are etched in my memory.
posted by Malor at 4:12 AM on December 9, 2012


I'm pretty sure Wonder Bread still has the dot pattern. Or did until a few days ago, when Hostess shut down. (Didn't know this was the same company until I googled it just now.)
posted by DU at 4:15 AM on December 9, 2012


I certainly remember Wonder Bread ads. Actually, I think Captain Kangaroo used to hawk it on his show, IIRC. "Builds strong bodies 12 ways!" What, exactly, those 12 ways *were* was something I don't recall ever being explained, however. Never had Wonder Bread in our household, though: I've never had a single bite of it.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:23 AM on December 9, 2012


Ah, YouTube, surely there is no dark, musty corner of our collective media-soaked childhood that you are incapable of illuminating for us once again...

Wonder Bread Commercial (1950s)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:40 AM on December 9, 2012


love this post ... Gonna sit with it again when i have a fullscreen
posted by infini at 4:47 AM on December 9, 2012


I had Wonder Bread at a friends house, but that was in my teens. We also rarely had any kind of chips and never ever EVER had any cool cereals. Total and Cheerios only. I got to have Rice Crispies at my grandparents and I was in heaven. We also only bought natural PB and I vowed never again once I left home.
posted by DU at 4:51 AM on December 9, 2012


"Because Wonder soft bread is made from batter, not dough, it has no holes!"

Wouldn't that be rather disturbing?
posted by JHarris at 5:15 AM on December 9, 2012


You know, eventually you get old enough that even the advertisements and packaging of your youth seem like a good idea.
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:23 AM on December 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Darn it, I had stuff to do today that wasn't looking at 1,711 pictures.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 5:40 AM on December 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


...sheer typographical delight.

mrgood took one look: "Wow - Franklin Gothic Condensed!"
posted by peagood at 6:07 AM on December 9, 2012


That makes an even better time machine than smelling Play-Doh!
posted by fairmettle at 6:19 AM on December 9, 2012


Love this. Even though I was born in the '70s, I still remember a lot of these brands from rural store shelves and the homes of elderly relatives. I also remember pulltops from the sidewalk, right now.

Amazing how persistent a part of the archaeological record they are; if I were an archy or anthro teacher for an undergrad class, I'd do a presentation on it. They were banned in 1977, two years before I was born, and yet I would swear up and down that I remember opening those cans as a child. Pulltops were everywhere on the ground. Even today, especially in areas where soils are disturbed by frequent construction, I regularly see pulltops underfoot.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:33 AM on December 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, I was surprised to see a pic of Kodak photochemicals. They always had a very interesting labeling system, definitely not commercialized, just informational labels. Just look at that label, it covers a third of the jar, and it's almost all white space. Well, yellow space.

I was hoping these would be categorized by years, so I could find some labels I worked on in the 1980s. I redesigned a LOT of packaging at the graphics studio where I worked. New nutritional content labeling was mandated by law and everyone was redoing their packaging.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:34 AM on December 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


I could swear that's the Fotomat that used to be at the corner of Lincoln and Ocean Park in Santa Monica. But then again, supermarket parking lots all tend to look the same, particularly so in LA.
posted by oxidizer at 6:42 AM on December 9, 2012


Oh well, chalk it up to the OP not wanting to face how old he actually is. Perhaps I wanted to feel in the company of summa you younger folk.

Microwavable Chef-Boy-R-Dee bowl, so that counts, I suppose.
posted by mikelieman at 6:46 AM on December 9, 2012


Insert applicable Tyler Durden quote here.
posted by FrankBlack at 7:25 AM on December 9, 2012


Good god, bring back everything in genuinely reusable/recyclable metal or glass packaging.
posted by toodleydoodley at 7:41 AM on December 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


The My T Fine pudding boxes still looked like that as late as the 90s, iirc.

now i want pudding.
posted by elizardbits at 7:41 AM on December 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


All this is doing is recalling a ridiculous number of voices saying tag-lines or singing jingles in my head.

SHUT UP, MADGE THE MANICURE LADY! WHY ARE YOU USING DISH SOAP LIKE THIS?

FINE, MR. WHIPPLE, I WON'T SQUEEZE THE CHARMIN, JUST GO AWAY!

Life SAAAAAAAAVers... a part of livIIIIIIING....

Nooooooo I don't wanna be a Pepper leave me alone
posted by tzikeh at 7:54 AM on December 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


what "melt away" said. this looks like a collection of boomer era packaging, although i'm wholly unfamiliar with some of the images as a 40-something. (Fotomat, Nesquick, etc) and holy wow, remember when pizza hut was like this?
posted by readyfreddy at 7:58 AM on December 9, 2012


I was around 16 when my friends and I locked ourselves away in an old cabin in the snow for a weekend. It blew my mind when I opened a cabinet and saw these nailed to the inner cabinet door as a shelves. Growing up in the plastic/cardboard age has taken away that sense of re usability that comes when you look at some of these.
posted by M Edward at 8:07 AM on December 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Man I hated this soap when I was growing up. It didn't smell good, didn't taste good the one and only time it was shoved in my mouth. Never understood why my mom had to have Zezt soap.
posted by Sailormom at 8:14 AM on December 9, 2012


Good god, bring back everything in genuinely reusable/recyclable metal or glass packaging.
posted by toodleydoodley


I inherited tools and supplies from my great-grandfather, including a bunch of nails and screws organized in some of these featured containers! I still reuse today's containers for storage, but it just doesn't feel the same.
posted by orme at 8:33 AM on December 9, 2012


Because Zest left less mess behind, as advertised. Fact, not fiction. No idea why.
posted by Goofyy at 8:33 AM on December 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


This container should be stricken from the record!
posted by orme at 8:34 AM on December 9, 2012


Looks like someone has been rifling through my grandparents house. Next time I'm there, I'm going to pull out the milk cartons my grandpa stored nails and stuff in. Six opened cartons to a box and last I remembered the outsides looked new because he'd just reach into them instead of sliding them out. Tons of Chock Full O' Nuts cans, too.
posted by codswallop at 9:14 AM on December 9, 2012


Instant Coffee! What miserable stuff that was.
posted by octothorpe at 10:10 AM on December 9, 2012


I remember some of these things, and I'm in my early 40s. Probably because in the upper Midwest, while the rest of the world went through the 70s properly, there was still the smidgen of mid-60s-ness left over in my neck of the woods.

The worst bit of packaging IMO from back then were those old-style pop-top openers. Yikes, how many times did I cut my tongue on those awful cans? Ugh.

My fave though, is the can from 7-11. It's BEER, OK? Just beer. They've even helpfully printed it twice on the can so you know what you're getting. You're getting BEER.
posted by droplet at 10:15 AM on December 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is great, thanks, flapjax!

I'm in my early 40s, and some of these definitely were in our household (or, more typically, my grandparents' household) when I was little. It's funny how evocative this sort of ephemera can be; somewhere else online I recently saw a picture of the Eskimo Pie packaging from the 1970s, and I was instantly flooded with the memory of my grandmother's kitchen, with me standing on my tiptoes to get an ice cream bar out of the freezer, and hearing my grandfather call from the other room "if you're getting an Eskimo Pie, bring me one too!"
posted by scody at 10:35 AM on December 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


What I like about this is the recognition of how little we notice packaging changing over time because a lot of it is very subtle. A slight change of typography, the careful evolution of a logo, the gradual shift of a product's identity. I almost never look at something in the supermarket and notice that the packaging has changed, and yet nothing stays the same.
posted by briank at 11:04 AM on December 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


certain kind of stroll down a certain offshoot of the proverbial Memory Lane.

I prefer the phrase "a lackadaisical ride on my back-in-the-daycycle"
(with apologies to MC Paul Barman)
posted by Shadax at 11:11 AM on December 9, 2012


Mmm, canned tortillas!
posted by octothorpe at 11:37 AM on December 9, 2012


I like how 7-Eleven had the gall to add the word Premium to the label of their Beer-Brand Beer. That or there was an even cheaper, non-Premium version. Ugh, shudder.

Some of these labels/packagings I remember from my childhood, and I'm in my early thirties (instant coffees, Quik containers with the weird insert lid thing, Barbasol, Woolite, Tic Tacs). I get the impression that either our household held onto some containers or the older branding survived into the eighties in the Midwest.
posted by axiom at 1:52 PM on December 9, 2012


.... sees photo of Sanka jar from the 60s with coffee still in it ... checks EXIF ... photo taken in 2006. Whoa. That's some, uh, aged flavor crystals there.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:36 PM on December 9, 2012


Mr. Gravy and I just spent an enjoyable hour looking at these together. We have different memories because we grew up 11 years and 3000 miles apart, but there was some overlap. We both drank a lot of Quik and remember the can fondly.

I sure don't remember Fritos being sold in a metal can! But one look at that bottle of Tang is enough to bring back the powerful taste of chemical orange "juice." We drank it all the time at my house, but we also took it camping-- nothing like a glass of tepid metal canteen water with a scoop of Tang in the morning.

One thing that made me smile is the tiny coupon savings. Look, you have to buy the "bathroom bundle" (4 cans) of comet to get 4 cents off. Whooo hooo, Las Vegas here we come.

Another thing I enjoyed was the elaborate grocery store displays; you don't see those anymore. This Bon Ami jet-spray (makes working fun) display confuses me a bit, but I do appreciate how it has been embellished with lots of aluminum foil.

Finally, this kid on a bike illustration is great. I can't say the sandwich spread looks appealing but the drawing reminds me of kid's books from the 50's.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:56 PM on December 9, 2012


At first quick glance I thought this was called Feh.
posted by scratch at 8:11 PM on December 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I remember endless litter along the sides of the roads that looked like this when I was a kid.
posted by telstar at 11:00 PM on December 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Instant coffee? Yeah... what miserable stuff. Let's try it again!
posted by coachfortner at 8:01 AM on December 10, 2012


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