The do’s & don'ts of candy packaging

The Skidmore candy drawer is basically our water cooler – and this close to Halloween, it’s packed full of treats. Which is why this episode of Branding Bites is all about candy packaging. Watch as Shawn and Kacha break down the packaging tricks that sell our favorite treats.

Rather read than watch? Check out the transcript below!


Kacha: Good morning everybody, and welcome to Branding Bites. My name is Kacha, I’m the executive creative director here at Skidmore Studio.

Shawn: Hi, I’m Shawn, the design director, and as you know, it’s almost Halloween, so today, we decided to talk about candy-

Kacha: Love it.

Shawn: More specifically, candy packaging, from today and from yesterday.

Kacha: Yeah, so let’s start with candy packaging for grownups, right? Because candy’s typically for kids, but now we have grownup-themed-

Shawn: Candy’s for everyone.

Kacha: Oh, is it?

Shawn: Yeah.

Kacha: All right. Well, we’re going to talk about grownup-themed candy first. For all you candy makers out there, one key message to you, lean into what you do. Be a candy maker. Don’t try to be anything else. Here’s some great examples.

Shawn: Be Willy Wonka?

Kacha:  Yes. Exactly. This right here looks like coffee. You know why? Because it’s caffeine-enhanced chocolate. That’s why it looks like coffee.

Shawn: Pretty tempting.

Kacha: Lean into what you do. This right here is from BonBon’s Candy House. I don’t know what a candy house is, but I expect it looks like this.

Shawn: I imagine it’s full of color and shape and boxes of all different sizes.

Kacha: Just like this. They’re being exactly who they are.

Shawn: It’s wonderful.

Kacha: Speaking of bons, Bon Bon Bon, our friends and world-famous chocolatiers here in Detroit. You open this up, it is an experience all through the four or five different layers of packaging to get to that beautiful little chocolate on the inside.

Shawn: And we love them.

Kacha: Amazing. This right here, from a Mexican chocolatier called Amado. It’s beautiful colors, indulgent gold foil. If there’s nothing other than chocolate in here, I’m going to be pretty excited.

Shawn: I agree, it’s beautiful. I expect cologne to come out of that box every time I see it.

Kacha:  Chocolate flavored cologne?

Shawn: Maybe.

Kacha:  All right. All right, now Zubi, these candy rocks here. This look like rock candy. I love this because it’s saying exactly what it is. Very telegraphic right?

Shawn: Candy.

Kacha: And then finally, this Squish, these great illustrations. Beautiful, simple packaging. And then when you open it up, you can see the candy because it comes in little clear packages inside.

Shawn: It’s like a bonus when you open it.

Kacha: That’s great.

Shawn: That’s my favorite packaging today.

Kacha: What do you got?

Shawn: I have a trip through yesteryear. First though, let me ask you, do you have a favorite nostalgic, vintage candy?

Kacha: I’m a pretty, I go to the same thing each time, peanut M&M’s.

Shawn: Those are pretty nostalgic.

Kacha: All right, great.

Shawn: Big NECCO fan myself. Nobody loves them but me I think. I want to talk a little bit about where candy started. I think why candy packaging looks the way it looks.

Kacha: Okay, okay.

Shawn: Yeah, this is from the 40’s, it was found in an old theater. Sorry, it’s a little maybe dingier than it should be, but I think it’s a good representation of what candy was.

Kacha: Uh-huh (affirmative).

Shawn: So you have little bitty product, giant product name. I think that sort of sets the trend on what it looks like today. And you can see there’s some classics here. Butterfinger, Baby Ruth, Tootsie Roll, that still look pretty close then, what they do today.

Kacha: Almost exactly the same. They had a good thing going there, and they kept it up.

Shawn: One thing they had more of back then was this idea of value, right. This kids worked really hard for their allowance, so you want to promise them a lot. You see a lot of almost meal, early meal replacement themes.

Kacha: That’s just crazy.

Shawn: The Lunchbox candy bar. I mean that’s amazing. You can get a whole lunch for what, three cents, pretty amazing.

Kacha: That’s awesome.

Shawn: But that doesn’t, my favorite, the Chicken Dinner bar. These sold until like the 60’s. The idea being that this is a full mean in a little bitty bar. Like you’re going to be full, you’re going to be happy, buy me. It’s a pretty constant theme back then. You’re right on the verge of the Great Depression, these kids didn’t have a lot of money, right. So play up the value.

Kacha: If somebody handed me a Chicken Dinner bar right now, I would taste it. Just on name alone.

Shawn: It’s a little bit of the start of the gross out candy we see today. The scorpions in the lollipops and stuff like that. That’s an early version of it.

Kacha: Love it.

Shawn: But it worked. Then you get into the 50’s, you start to see some brighter colors. You see some lively illustrations, things we start to recognize as you say, just look like candy.

Kacha: Yeah.

Shawn: This is where they’re starting to find that sweet spot. Beautiful stuff. They did a great job of sort of leaning in to whatever was popular at the time. This Orbit Bar, I love, this is a frozen pop, but I still love it. It’s got the great kind of Sputnik era illustration, great colors, just fantastic. That puts us into some Atomic Fireball, again we’re kind of on topic, atomics everywhere, big deal. But it also starts to hint at like, some extreme candy, “Can you do it? Like dare it?”

Kacha: The big fireball.

Shawn: It’s daring, it’s very daring candy.

Kacha: That’s what it would feel like in my mouth when I put it in there.

Shawn: “Oh my God, can I do it?” That’s the idea.

Kacha: Yeah.

Shawn: Of course Lemon Heads, the classic favorite. But at the time, these were pretty sour, it was a big deal. Lemon Heads, you got the great illustration of Lemon Head, you can see brighter colors still. Getting a little bit more playful than we were in the 40’s. Super Sours, that’s right on trend. This is a little later, but where I have a little sweet spot as the 80’s and 90’s [crosstalk 00:04:18] packaging, just the novelty of it all.

Kacha: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Shawn: So you have Bubble Beeper’s, and this was followed by Bubble Tape, and Bubble this, and Bubble that, and things in a bottle. Pretty great. This candy, probably garbage, but man did kids buy it just because of the packaging.

Kacha: But it’s for the kids right? That’s where it goes.

Shawn: Yeah, for the kids.

Kacha: The kids are like at three foot six, and they’re looking at the candy aisle. They’re going, “What do I want?”

Shawn: They’re tiny little things. At the time, they wanted candy cigarettes, now they want candy beepers. I know my kids have pestered me candy cell phones and it’s just garbage.

Kacha: Absolutely.

Shawn: But beautiful garbage.

Kacha: Delicious garbage.

Shawn: I love it. Which the idea today, like we talked about, you’re three foot six, you’re at the candy aisle, you’ve got a good thing if your Reese’s right, your Hershey’s, you’re one of the big three, so what do you do, you just make it bigger. See a lot of these right now, these oversized, giant, I mean this is like two pounds of Reese’s Peanut Butter.

Kacha: Yeah, but you’re a kid and you want candy, and all you want is more of it.

Shawn: They already recognize the package, what do you do? Just make it bigger.

Kacha: It’s awesome. All right, now is the time for Bittie Bites, and Bittie Bites is when we pull out of the magical envelope, things that have happened in the last week or so in branding and marketing and we give it a thumbs up or a thumbs down. What have you got for us this week Shawn?

Shawn: Today, we have, oh I see a furry filter.

Kacha: Yeah, so this is a Facebook filter, for pet adoption right?

Shawn: I think Pedigree did this, right?

Kacha: Yeah, and I love it. In this case, so I’m going to give it a thumbs up, even though ordinarily I hate the filter face, but this is great. It’s for a good cause.

Shawn: Adopting puppies, what’s not to love.

Kacha: That’s awesome. Oh yeah, okay.

Shawn: 7/11, the debate continues.

Kacha: So the Reddit users have decided that debating whether or upper case and lower case should go together in the 7/11 logo. Reddit users, stop having this discussion, it’s a great logo.

Shawn: It’s lasted a long time. The N is great, it’s uni-case, upper-lower case. It works. It fits.

Kacha: Leave it be.

Shawn: It’s fine.

Kacha: All right.

Shawn: All right. Oh.

Kacha: Oh.

Shawn: A dancing hotdog.

Kacha: The SnapChat dancing hotdog costume, which SnapChat is already ridiculous, so why not make a ridiculous costume with it.

Shawn: It’s over the top.

Kacha: That’s great. Thumbs up on that.

Shawn: I wish it was more plasticky, but I’m giving it a thumbs up.

Kacha: All right, now we have a special treat for you. If you go to our Instagram, we have a special bonus Bittie Bite.

Shawn: Itty Bittie Bites.

Kacha: Little tiny one. So hit us up at Skidmore Studio at Instagram, you can see it there. And of course if you have questions anytime, at Skidmore Studio on Instagram, or Skidmore Studio on Facebook, be happy to talk to you. Til then, have a great week, see you next time.

Shawn: See ya