Everyday Food Packaging Has Come Long Way since Childhood
By Naomi Hiltz
Ever since I was a toddler, I remember shopping with my mom. To this day, I vividly recall the packed grocery stores on Thursdays after 5 p.m., with bumper-to-bumper foot traffic inside the store as the whole neighborhood seemed to be stocking up for the weekend at the same time. I can still see my mom spending countless hours pushing me in a bright yellow cart while my tiny hands grabbed random junk food unbeknownst to her, while the 80’s music reverberated down the aisles with Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” and Barry Manilow’s “Mandy”. As my head swayed to the beat and mom mouthed the words to her favorite songs, I may have grabbed a red M&M’s candy from my hidden junk-food stash and quickly made it disappear. Ironically, packaged chocolate hasn’t changed significantly over the last 40 years. However, there are many foods that have transformed their packaging. For example, soup could only be purchased in jars or cans back then, whereas 40 years later is it widely available in stand-up pouches with resealable zippers. I also remember drinking water from the sink when I was thirsty, but by the time I was a teenager, we were buying bottled water by the case. As an adult, I have been shopping on my own for three decades and it’s wonderful to see how consumer packaging has evolved over time. More companies have moved towards reusable and recyclable materials, with compact packaging, to do their part in protecting the planet.
Packaged in a stand-up pouch with a resealable cap, the Love Child Organics baby food encapsulates the transition of baby food from the tiny glass jars used decades ago. Available in a myriad of flavors—each one combining healthy organic fruits, veggies and grains for your little ones—this brand makes it a point to make its packaging from recyclable materials, while also ensuring longer product shelf-life. Whereas the glass jars of the past lacked the visual space to display eye-catching artwork, the modern stand-up pouches can utilize its entire package to entice the consumer, while offering valuable nutritional information, with enough room on the front panel to highlight the main ingredients for tired parents who don’t have a lot of time to read the fine print. Moreover, this product requires absolutely no prep time: just unscrew the cap and let your baby enjoy it at home or on-the-go, with any leftovers securely stored in the fridge for a later feeding. Above all, this flexible package is not nearly as prone to accidental breakage as those glass jars of yesteryear—especially when the baby is holding it.
Boxed water has certainly taken centre stage in the last number of years. Not only do the beverage paperboard cartons help to eliminate plastic, they also help to slow down global deforestation by virtue of using renewable material sources from certified sustainable sources. One of my preferred products is the Aqua Nobel brand of boxed water, which is also organic, pH balanced, delicious and available in an assortment of flavors, including my favorite lemon-lime. Instead of a straight-forward brick shape, this brand’s carton is cleverly shaped with two indents on each side to allow the consumer to hold it with effortless ease, while the pervasive colorful green-and-yellow packaging perfectly compliments the flavor inside the box. With plastic water bottles, there is very little room for artistic freedom, whereas boxed water allows the company to utilize its entire space for artistic branding creativity and providing the required product information. Similar to Love Child Organics pouches, this water carton has a reusable screw-cap that allows consumers to drink as much or as little as they desire without unnecessary waste.
In the past, barbeque sauce was only available in plastic or glass bottles. Today, our family can’t seem to get enough of the Amazing Dad’s BBQ Sauce, which is packaged in sustainable, flexible stand-up pouches with resealable screw caps, with the small spout reducing the chances of sauce accidentally spilling or leaking out. Containing half of the sodium found in many other sauces on the market today, Amazing Dad’s BBQ Sauce is an organic and gluten-free product that does a great job retaining its freshness and taste inside the 500-ml stand-up pouches depicting a caricature of a gleeful suburban dad happily lording over the outdoor barbeque grill on a hot summer day. The catchy artwork extends to the listing of the ingredients, which are woven into the graphics as streams of vented steam coming off the hot grill.
The Canada’s Own Chicken Noodle Soup brand falls under a similar category as the baby food and BBQ sauce, with its flexible, stand-up pouch replacing the glass jars that have been so widely used over the decades and continue to fill store-shelves today. One of the major differences between the soup and the aforementioned products is that this recyclable, BPA-free pouch is sealed with a reusable Ziploc closure that helps keep any leftover soup fresh for up to two months after opening. This brand of chicken noodle soup is really stands out on the shelf thanks to its due to its transparent oval window cutout on the front of the packaging—enticing shoppers to preview the tasty soup prior to purchasing it. Produced by Canadian farmers, Canada’s Own Chicken Noodle Soup is free of dairy, additives, sulphates, preservatives and sugar, while providing the perfect balance of vegetables, pasta and chicken—all encompassed in a flavorful broth so filling that it can be a meal unto itself.
Naomi Hiltz is a freelance photographer living in Thornhill, Ont.