Standout Packaging Adds Spice of Life to the Kitchen
By Julie Saunders
Sometimes I go shopping for new spices and herbs, not because I need something for a particular recipe, but just to add a little novelty to my cooking. So I appreciate a spice like Pride of Szeged’s Rib Rub, which wears its place of origin proudly, with the crest and colours of the Hungarian flag a central design feature on the side of the slim plastic container that easily fits into my crowded spice cupboard. Resembling an old-school metal tin, the container’s backside provides easy-to-follow instruction and recipe suggestions to round out a tiny little package oozing with authenticity.
As the name implies, the Simply Organic Oregano brand is packaged in a simple, square-sided glass bottle, with the screw-top lid used to revealing both shaker and pour openings in the underlying plastic top. I was particularly attracted by the cute, contemporary font treatment, using all lowercase with interlinking letters in the logo. If I were storing this in the open, I might be concerned that exposure to sun could diminish the flavor of the contents, since the entirely clear glass bottle provides no protection against light, but generally my herbs are always stored in a dark cupboard.
I have come to realize that I cannot resist a package with a seal—breaking it open feels like opening a present. So the Urban Accents Mesa Rosa Chipotle really drew me in with its shiny red seal over the lid, not to mention the peek-a-boo view of the interior through a cut-out in the opaque wrapper. I was a little disappointed when I opened it to find that it only has a single shaker top option, but I liked the wide-ranging suggestions for use and the reference to the website to find more tips and ideas.
I feel like McCormick Gourmet Chili Powder has been a familiar brand my entire life, but I gave a double take on my recent shopping trip—when did it get this sleek two-toned sculpted plastic lid? The colourful graphic of ingredients on the label also livened it up. And, in a so-smart ‘Why-didn’t-I-think-of-it before’ display of edgy innovation, the top of the lid has the name of the spice printed on it—perfect if the bottle were stored in a spice drawer with only a top-down view.
The Cold Grind Organic Garam Masala brand looks like a fairly basic product, but I think the packaging is selling it short. A visit to the brand’s website reveals a genuinely earnest commitment to working directly with individual farmers to source premium spices, as well as their authentic cold grind process that does an outstanding job of preserve the spice flavor down to the last few specs. Alas, the stubby shape and proportions of the clear rounded plastic jar don’t really do much to make the product stand out on the shelf, the black plastic lid and angled log on graphics on the label are more suited for a protein supplement, rather than a very flavorful and zesty food spice.
I have a nostalgic soft spot for the Club House brand’s spice tins, such as their timeless Ground Cloves. My father made a wooden spice rack for my mother when they were first dating, which hung on our kitchen wall my whole life growing up, and it was filled with these clever little containers. Despite their smallish size, they offer terrific three-way dispensing functional with their built-in shaker, pour spout and wide-mouth spoon openings, depending on whether you open the lid along the side or at the front. The small size is also ideal for spices used in small quantities, in order to finish them while they are still fresh. The graphics are more contemporary than the circa-’70s brown and orange of my memories, with a bold red-orange background that really pops.
I love the look of President’s Choice Shichimi Togarashi, but the functionality of the packaging could be improved. The silver metallic screw top and low-profile clear plastic jar are very distinctive, and, as with all of the Black Label line of products, the graphics are contemporary, with a black and white photograph of the spices that make up this seven-spice blend. However, when I unscrewed the top, the lightweight flakes of this spice mixture were easily jostled and some spilled over the edge. Perhaps this package should incorporate a shaker or pour spout opening to more reliably dispense the contents.
I am not a big fan of resealable plastic envelopes of spices—it’s all too easy for the contents to clog the zipper lock when pouring out, and then it does not reseal securely. But I’m happy to make an exception for the Fire in the Kitchen Spice Co.’s JJ’s Veggie Blaze blend, which really grabbed me with its appetizing full-colour photo of a finished food product, set off by a bold black background. The jury is still out on how well the resealable zipper holds up, but I’m really looking forward to finding out.
Julie Saunders is a healthcare communications professional based in Toronto.