Funny funky food…packaging

I’m a sucker for lively product packaging, especially when quirky humor is displayed.

For example, here’s a bottle of A-1 sauce that I was somewhat mindlessly glancing at one day…

when I turned it over and saw this delightfully playful way of advising us on a fine point of product use.Don’t hate me, but I often buy Donald Duck Orange Juice…simply because it’s usually the cheapest on the shelf and seems to have the same ingredients as all the other brands.

Now, I haven’t been a regular reader of the backs of packages since I was in grade school but for some reason I took a moment to check out the cartoon on the side panel fully expecting it to be typical lame-o Disney half-chuckler.

Instead I found this razor-sharp character study that sorta makes you take a beat to get the punch line: It’s so totally Donald (Duck).

Ok, so you don’t care for instant coffee and feel paralyzed if you can’t get your personalized Starbucks cup of “grande, iced, sugar-free, vanilla latte with soy milk”? I like good brewed coffee as much as the next person, but when I was in the Middle East for a couple years, I found that sometimes you just need a jolt of caffeine between classes. And not only did Nescafe command the market, the word “nescafe” itself was actually synonymous with instant coffee.  I’m not saying their success was because of clever marketing, but I fell in love with these clever cups that the local equivalent of Safeway (Tamimi) gave away as part of a promotional package. Not only are they fun, but good for practicing one’s Arabic!








Of course there’s no exact translation of “No can do” but apparently the closest Arabic can render it is “Forget it”(انس), roughly pronounced eensah.

Next up: those impish Pop Tarts.
















No tour of quirky packaging delights can fail to include Trader Joe’s, such as this tissue box. (This happens to be a particular downfall of mine.)


The side of the box gives a choice of four favorite tissue uses, such as…

And finally, this last item* is not really an instance of intentional packaging humor but I just can’t resist including it as an example of “translations that don’t work in English very well.”

*“Ful medames,” or simply fūl, is a dish of cooked fava beans served with vegetable oil, cumin, and optionally with chopped parsley, garlic, onion, lemon juice, chili pepper and other vegetable, herb and spice ingredients; it’s a common part of the cuisines of many Arab, Middle Eastern and African cultures. Some writers have suggested that ful medames dated all the way back to Ancient Egypt. The earliest evidence of the use of ful is a cache of 2,600 dried Fava beans unearthed at a late Neolithic site on the outskirts of Nazareth.
An earlier version of this article discussing Arabic translations in somewhat more details (and prior to discovering the cartoons) can be found at
All photos (c) Jim Veihdeffer

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