looks, they are-a-changing
A newsletter on upcoming food and beverage trends that offers a curation of brands and aesthetics written by Andrea Hernández.
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🔮 Peek into the future:
Beauty is in the eye of the snaxboi
On origins of packaging
Andy Warhol’s CPG influence
Rebrands as the new launch
Around the world in Pantry Kiths
Oracular Spectacular and Trendspotting
Spoonful of News
Come on in, the water’s warm, you know you want to!
Sitting Pretty, Oh So Pretty
In defense of aestheticism, our brains literally crave beauty. Studies have shown that “beauty” literally triggers a part of our cerebellum that controls our hand movement, making us literally want to reach out for beautiful things. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and it involves everything from art, mates or that adaptogenic milk cardboard at your local curated grocer, it is no surprise then, to see the current state of F&B, where every item is seeking to either Trojan-horse us with pretty packaging, or undergoing upgrades to continue to appeal and be competitive in saturated markets, as we undergo an industry renaissance.
Consider that the last Renaissance saw the rise of food as a popular subject in in still life paintings, and at a time where we are still undergoing the affects of a pandemic, it comes to no surprise that relaxed renaissance is trending, as well as a rise in synaesthetic experiences and tablescapism post 2020. I’ve been documenting this behavior since SXS began, our cult literally revolves around worshipping sexy pantry items and sultry snack, consider our issue “Horny, horny people” and “American Snaxboi” wherein I trace back this new found love for “aesthetics” to being the Instagram generation, Millennials trying to find deeper connection with what nurtures them as well as trying to undo the “chaotic, punk” aesthetics most of them grew up with in the 90s.
Our parents used to not care about the “aesthetics” or the “vibe” of ketchup much more than the utility around it, nor did they carry around cereal boxes as a “fashion item” (something that’s gain popularity in South Korea) even if most of them grew up as yuppies, the vibe in F&B back then was so “anti” fluff and more utility based that Lacroix literally became a hit by positioning themselves as the “anti Perrier” —yet the children of this generation find themselves wanting to signal with their organic Dark Horse fermented ketchups displayed neatly on their bare kitchen shelves, posting it on tiny grids where we let others know, we are snaxbois who are in the “know” —but it didn’t happen all at once.
The 2010s saw Millennials come of age, since then we’ve engaged in a perpetual discovery mode trying to find replacements for our food and beverage basics, that better fit our criteria and expectations. At first, the need was unfulfilled, this led to companies like Sir Kensington’s and Halo Top to become a threat to almost 100 year old, behemoth, legacy brands by catering to this demographic, that would a decade later become the largest consumer cohort. Documented this movement on “Seasoned Greetings” on the revolution in pantry items like condiments, olive oil and hot sauces, as well as in “Scoop there it is” and “What’s in your fridge?” unpacking the changes happening inside our freezers, whether it’s adaptogenic ice cream or cassava, plant based pizza bites.
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The success of these companies led to an influx of venture money being poured into these companies, as competition grows, so does the need to stand out amongst a sea of sameness, not just with utility (fulfilling the actual need) but it became the norm for these companies to spend thousands if not hundreds of thousands in marketing, PR and design to produce trendy packaging that would appeal to Millennials and GenZ alike, wether it was capturing them through social ads, activations or generating hilarious UGC on TikTok. UGC (user generated content) runs a muck inside these platforms, our generations wanting to signal whether through a fridge shot or a shelfie, creating a hot item pays off amongst a generation who speaks aesthetics first, (hello influencers) food and beverage have officially become external signalers in the same way fashion items have, foodie culture and food porn also contributed to increase in packaging porn.
Timeline of Packaging
—Ancient China is credited for inventing flexible packaging due to their innovations in developing paper. Back then they used mulberry bark to wrap foods and in later centuries, after perfecting paper-making techniques, paper began to be used for packaging items such as medicine and parcels of tea.
—In Ancient Egypt, glass was costly and regarded as a precious stone typically reserved for royalty. This obsession with glass eventually lead Egyptians to discover glass blowing tech of which could mold glass into containers for food and water storage.
—The middle ages saw a rise in popularity in using wooden barrels and wood boxes as storage and transportation devices. Barrels were typically used for traveling across oceans to store items such as rum, dried food, and fresh water.
—Nicolas Appert, also known as the father of canning, invented a method to preserve food for an extended period of time by boiling then sealing food in airtight glass containers, a method still used to this day!
—In 1810, Peter Durand, an Englishman, patented the use of tin-coated iron cans instead of bottles to preserve food. Over the next 20 years, tin would become one of the most popular packaging materials for packaging things like cookies and tobacco.
—Though cardboard itself had been invented several hundred years earlier in China, the cardboard box wasn’t created until 1817 by Sir Malcolm Thornhill, these boxes weren’t corrugated yet, that wouldn’t be invented until 1871. Cardboard boxes were popular among silk manufacturers to transport moths and eggs from Japan to Europe.
—Several years after the first commercial paper bags were created in 1844, Francis Wolle invented a machine capable of mass-producing paper bags.
—Robert Gair, a Brooklyn printer developed the first carton by accident! Gair was the owner of a paper bag company. One day, one of Gair’s machines malfunctioned by slicing through (rather than creasing) a stack of paper bags. It was then that Gair realized that cutting and creasing cartons in one operation could make prefabricated cartons.
—The Kellogg brothers, known for the invention of Corn Flake cereal in 1877, began using cardboard to distribute and market their cereal as early as 1906, otherwise known as the first cereal box.
Andy Warhol as the OG Snaxboi
None other was able to set the foundations of packaging as external signaling, or as art form than the incomparable Andy Warhol, who’s interest in gifting is what led him to become obsessed with “packaging” in norm settings. Pop art became a movement that used humor and irony to comment on mass production and how consumerism had come to dominate much of American life and culture, unlike prior movements that focused on the creative process, this one tried to eliminate traces of it , like brush strokes—so that artwork emulated an almost mechanical, mass-produced feel. Warhol’s experience working in commercial accounts, working with the likes of Harper’s Bazaar, Dior and Tiffany’s gave him this exact POV.
** Fun fact, Lunchables were designed to look like a gift because it was a way to ease moms from feeling guilty for not preparing their kids meals and send them off with pre-made snacks instead**
At first, his exposition of the 32 Campbell soup cans failed to attract interest, instead criticism as most audiences were not familiar with this young art movement in the early 60s, by the way, his appeal to this particular brand came from him growing up on their soups, focusing on a common, everyday product. By the mid 60s however, society was starting to warm up to the idea of pop art, and in 1964, Warhol put on the infamous exhibition, The American Supermarket in collaboration with other artists from the same movement. Held at the Bianchini Gallery in New York, the show was presented as a typical U.S. small supermarket environment, except that everything in it from the produce, canned goods, meat, posters on the wall, etc. were created by six prominent pop artists of the time including the controversial (and like-minded) Billy Apple, Mary Inman, and Robert Watts. It was such a success, that in just 2 years, his paintings each were selling for $1,500 each.
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Andy Warhol was the original snaxboi, understanding that pantry items need to pop out at shelves, they want to be seen, allowing for these common products to be considered as art form even as a consumer packaged good. His legacy has led this movement, wherein art, food, lifestyle and fashion intersect. Consider that the London Design Museum created an entire grocery store that featured common grocery items with designs from several artists, the market itself held that very “pop art” 60s look, Pop Up Grocer holds a similar look, creating an experiential environment that feels similar to the 1964 exhibition, not to mention Superette’s incredible supermarket store, that holds cannabis items that are packaged to look like they belong in regular pantry shelves. But perhaps, the ultimate nod to the Warhol genius, comes from Omega Mart, an exhibition in Vegas from Meow Wolf, a parody of an average grocery stores, where you can actually purchase their spoof items.
Oh to be a pantry item through a looking glass
staring out at your produce waiting to be picked up too.
It’s the Aesthetics, Stupid
—CPG packaging spend continues to rise: 56% of CPG brand owners reported an increase in spending on packaging since 2019 and 65% said they anticipate growing their spending in 2022 and 2023.
—72% of American consumers say that product packaging design influences their purchasing.
—Rebrands are the new launch: 30% of businesses report an increase in revenue after improving product packaging.
—Classic snaxboi : 40% of American consumers will post photos on social media (UGC) of products with unique branded packaging.
—Perpetual discovery mode: 52% of consumers have changed product brands because of new packaging design.
—GenZ and Millennials are spending most of their food budget on groceries accounting for 70% of it.
—Both GenZ and Millennials crave a browsing experience and discovery, on average, both generations visit a grocery store three times a week.
Rebrands are the New Launch
Now that we’ve established that looks fucking matter, sorry to those who solely believe beauty lays on the inside, at least not in this industry. Let’s talk about the sudden surge in rebrands, to appeal to modern consumers, fit into pantry kiths, and become coveted items that double as accessories and signalers of cool—rebrands have become the new launch.
So much so that the rebrand cycle has become increasingly short, whereas before, brands would spend time building their brand equity, patent looks, colors, fonts etc, now it has become a brave new bland world, wherein every item is emulating each other, trying to borrow from established clout in what seems a never ending cycle, spoke about this last year on a Vice interview on “Why food brands all about the aesthetics now” —shout out to Bettina Makalintal! Brands are also using it to get perceived novelty, though you can’t fool me baby, I’ve got my ways to uncover whether or not a brand is trying to hide a major facelift to fool consumers into thinking they are brand new, should I share the tip with you—tweet at me if you want to know.
Let’s get to the good stuff, let’s explore some examples of brands trying to bland themselves into new found relevance—
Want more greedy snaxboi? We curate daily on Instagram.
Before: Mother, farmer’s market vibe After: Poppi, complete fucking body lift
Before: Gen Alpha ripping off Annie’s After: Millennial pastel Mac-n-Cheese
Before: Bodega bottled water vibes After: DTC, copying Lark’s minimalism
Before: Brew, craft mate vibes After: Sexy looking yerba mate
Before: Target fridge vibes After: web3 plant based vibes
Before: Average grocery tea look After: DTC Millennial cozy aesthetics
Before: Minimalist IG wellness After: Pantry thirst trap
Before: Bartender sophistication After: Millennials Instant Gratification
Before: Minimal Paint Can After: Pastel-pop realness
Before: Private Label realness After: Bringing the heat to freezer aisles
Before: Natural lunchbox vibes After: Hottest trade at playground
Around the World in Pantry KITHs
We’ve already broken down the definition of “Pantry KITHs” here, we wanted to share some of our favorite concepts from around the world.
Monsoon Market based in Phoenix, USA.
Supermarket of Dreams based in London, UK.
Mortadeli based in Victoria, Australia.
Tandem based in Lyons, France.
Oracular Spectacular, Double Feature 👁️
shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!! our favorite show is about to start, don’t worry, we saved last week’s episode for you to enjoy as well!
Want more greedy snaxboi? We curate daily on Instagram.
TrendSpotting, Double Feature
Spoonful of News 🥄
Starbucks launches a line of energy drinks.
Our friends at Pop Up Grocer open TOMORROW in Miami.
Our friends at Ruby launched TWO new flavors, may we recommend Ginger Cherry?
Misfit Foods rebrands to Phil’s Best and we are fine with it!
Coca Cola and Molson Coors launch a spiked lemonade in line with my prediction that seltzer and alcohol have become their saving grace.
Snax Concierge 🛎️
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