Thinking Outside the Cereal Box

The, a leading packaging design blog, recently uploaded a massive collection of vintage cereal boxes that follows multiple brands’ designs through the years.  Talk about a walk down memory lane!  But it occurred to us here at Zip-Pak that not much has really changed over the years…

From Olympic champions to kid-friendly characters, countless cultural icons have graced American breakfast tables on cereal boxes for decades.  The dominant packaging format, bag-in-box, has served its purpose for just as long. Will the bag-in-box format continue to have staying power?

As consumers increasingly criticize any seemingly excess packaging, the cereal box seems like obvious prey.  And as the trend toward keeping products fresher, longer to reduce food waste continues to take hold, trying unsuccessfully to tuck away the plastic bag inside a cereal box could soon become as retro as Dinky Donuts and Frosty O’s.

Cereal manufacturers seem cautious, and they may have good reason.  Cereal is and has been a staple in American homes since the 1930’s.  Last year, a simple re-design of Tropicana orange juice cartons resulted in consumer resistance, prompting the brand to abandon its new sleek look for the consumer-preferred traditional package.  With that in mind, it is to be expected that changing a package as iconic as the cereal box could result in a similar uproar.

Fortunately for both brand managers and consumers, new packaging technologies are on the horizon and could meet demands for both a box and a pouch.  Semi-flexible containers, for instance, provide consumers with the ability to stack boxes in a cabinet while still offering the convenience of a resealable closure.  Such innovative concepts also meet the need to keep products fresh throughout the last use, helping to reduce food waste, which can emit harmful carbon dioxide during decomposition in a landfill.

With new technologies and packaging solutions available to consumer product companies these days, we believe the cereal aisle is long overdue for a material makeover.