Timely Tips For School-Safe Packages
A monthly look at some of the hits and misses in the packaging world from the viewpoint of Joe Public, Canadian Packaging magazine’s revolving columnists. From the November 2017 issue.
November 27, 2017
by Sarah Harper
With today’s parents facing more daily challenges than ever before, packing lunches for their kids to take to school should not be a challenging endeavor. But it is. Gone are the days when all you had to worry about was whether your children would eat what you packed for them: there are now far more complex issues at play. For example, it seems incredible how many children have nut allergy nowadays—enough to prompt schools near and far to completely ban peanut butter and many other products containing nuts. And with all the other food allergies out there becoming better known and understood, a healthy lunch has become as much a dilemma for the parents as it is for teachers, who are now tasked with policing what their students bring to school and educating parents on what constitutes a healthy lunch. Happily, there are some packaging innovations out in the market to help both parents and teachers get through it all without completely losing their minds.
With some schools now going as far as only to allow for litter-less lunches to be brought along, the funky-looking Yumbox mini traveling case—manufactured by Delaware-based Boolabox, Inc. in several design configurations—offers a terrific solution. The six-compartment Yumbox I picked up is just perfect for toddler and young, picky little grazers that carve variety, with its internal compartments doing a commendable job of keeping all the different food items away from each other, while also accommodating both wet and dry foods. Actually invented by two real-life moms, the lightweight, compact, dishwasher-safe, and both BPA– and phthalates-free contraption also packs a handy educational value-added component by including the name of each food group in the container’s interior compartments—thus helping children to learn about all the different essential food groups early on.
With the ongoing yogurt craze showing no signs of slowing down any time soon, even Canada’s leading bookseller Indigo Books & Music Inc. is happily jumping onto the fast-rolling bandwagon with its own branded Chill Yogurt 2 Go insulated cup. Featuring a separate built-in compartment for toppings and an attached spoon, the Chill Yogurt 2 Go container is not only also a perfect ‘litter-less lunch’ solution’ for the kids, but with its 12-ounce volume capacity it is also a very adult-friendly grab-and-go contraption requiring a bare minimum of time to prepare the night before.
Speaking of time, I often find myself amazed by the sheer market longevity of the Black Diamond brand of Cheese Strings, which I fondly remember enjoying back in my own school years—peeling off all that stringy deliciousness one layer at a time in clear defiance of the old ‘Don’t play with your food’ adage. While the product’s packaging has gone through a multitude of transformations over the years, it’s nice to see that the passage of time has not dulled the brand’s sense of fun and joyfulness gloriously captured on the 168-gram pouches of Black Diamond CheeStrings Ficello splashed with vibrant colors, cool skateboarding graphics and a well-communicated nutritional message at the top of the pouch. Marketed by brand-owner Parmalat of Canada under the cheeky “100% cheese 100% fun” tagline, the eight-piece packs of cheesy awesomeness do just credit to the brand’s seemingly timeless appeal.
Produced by Treasure Mills Inc. at a certified peanut/nut-free baking facility in Aurora, Ont., the School Safe brand of Banana Chocolate Chip Snack Cakes retails in a cheerful box containing eight individually-wrapped min-loaves that can be safely stored in a freezer away from the children’s wondering eyes, while also prolonging the product’s freshness right up to the moment of consumption. Thawed and ready to eat in five minutes after leaving the freezer, these delicious pieces of wholesome all-natural indulgence are a wonderful treat both for the kids and the moms concerned about their nutritional intake and proper portion control.
To give credit where it’s due, kudos to General Mills for responding to the peanut-free school requirements by making its Nature Valley Lunch Box Granola Bars in a certified peanut-free facility. Containing no artificial colors or flavors, while providing 20 per cent of recommended daily fiber intake, that tasty bars—packed five to a box decked out in soothing earthy colors—leverage the natural deliciousness of chocolate chips to dispense just the right amount of sweetness to make the kids feel like they are enjoying candy, without all the excess sugar that kids and many adults alike could really do without.
Since being launched in the Canadian market in 2012, the Motts FruitSations pouches have become a hit with parents and a common staple for lunch boxes not subjected to the aforementioned ‘litter-less’ protocol. Offering a delicious low-calorie way to get your kids to eat their fruits and veggies, the unsweetened, gluten- and peanut-free purees really hit the sweet spot for packaging convenience with their resealable spouted stand-up pouch format, eye-candy graphics and, above all, guilt-free parental peace of mind in regards to sound nutrition and early development of healthy eating habits.
Sarah Harper is a freelance writer and a working mom living in Kingston, Ont.