This month, let's start with a quiz:
What's the world's most recognized brand packaging? (a) Apple, (b) Coca-Cola, (c) Amazon
The human eye can distinguish more shades of what color than any other? (a) green, (b) yellow, (c) blue
Bubble wrap was originally intended to be used as what? (a) wallpaper, (b) helmet liner, (c) radio telescope insulation
Fun fact: In 1927, Austrian Edward Haas III developed a little candy using a kind of baking powder and mint oil. He took the first, middle and last letters from pfefferminz (German for peppermint), put them on the label, and Pez was born. Haas intended his product to help people cut down on smoking.
There's no data on its success in reducing tobacco use, but we all know what happened after the company introduced its handheld dispenser in 1949. That packaging propelled Pez to stellar fame (with an official museum in Connecticut) and it's now sold in 90 countries. Packaging works.
Details about the intricacies, histories and oddities of packaging are known among many industry professionals. To me, learning and sharing the lesser known aspects of anything can give it added depth. It has also, in the words of my beloved spouse, turned me into a fount of useless knowledge. I'm good with that.
The collection has been enjoyable to pursue because I start out armed with doubt, and if something is left standing after the fight then it's worth discussing. These are billed as facts, but unless there are good references to back them, they can end in shreds on the floor. Sometimes they turn out to be half-facts.
Such as:"Coffee aroma is sprayed onto the lids of instant coffee jars so it smells of freshly ground coffee when opened. "This sounds awful, but it's partly true, and mostly wrong.
A former production manager at a major coffee company explains that coffee "liquor ' is extracted from fresh roasted and ground coffee at the factory; that's where the appealing aroma lives. That same extraction is returned to the powdered coffee after the appropriate processing. It's not just sprayed onto a jar lid.
Surveys have shown that the smell of coffee is one of the most pleasurable in life. It follows then that coffee packaging continues to be examined, intensely, year after year. We all want that magnificent and, shall we say, intoxicating aroma to remain in the container and explode into olfactory comfort and joy when we open it. As with so many other things on earth, oxygen is the enemy of the smell of coffee...