Packaged FINDINGS: Pastabilities brings some fun to a crowded category

Posted on Sep 15, 2020 by

As we all become acclimatized to a COVID lifestyle, I find myself looking forward to my shopping forays as a reason to get out of the house, re-socialize, and catch up with what is happening in the food packaging world. I’ve observed that new product and packaging trends change so rapidly that it can be hard to innovate and stay ahead of the next trend. However, whether it’s a box, a can, or a bottle, as categories and segments compete, it still remains true that what you do differently within those primary package shapes will bring notable impact on shelf or online.

An example of this is mac and cheese – a simple packaged food that is convenient and adored by consumers across the country – so much so that there has been a recent attempt to shift it from a snack or mealtime product to a breakfast alternative. At the same time, a wide variety of product iterations have hit the market competing for consumer attention. You can now get organic, vegan, non-dairy, and gluten-free versions – you name it and it probably exists, most likely in the somewhat standardized mac and cheese carton.

However, on this shopping excursion what caught my eye was the modified, windowed box of vegan, organic, “artisanal” mac and cheese by World of Pastabilities, which incorporated innovatively shaped pasta to augment the package theme. The physical size of the carton was about 30% larger than the standard-size box, and the die-cut window center front exposed the theme-shaped product. Although this product was in a box, the top of the carton was converted into a bag style, fold-over resealable tent-style tab so the carton could be re-closed – increasing the available real estate for branding to appear as the carton faced the consumer on shelf. I don’t know that the structure offered any mind-bending functional utility, but the larger size created an important visual distinction.

Because the actual product is clearly displayed within the carton window, it reinforces the thematic design of the package, and because the carton delivers increased billboard space on which to communicate product features, the visual design can take the ball and run with it – which it does! There is much about this product that a conscientious food shopper can be interested in – with one exception. The over-crowded product feature and content copy tend to scream a little too much off the package. What is most important to the consumer? Vegan, organic, mac and cheese, or the brand? Taking the point a bit further, is “under the sea” more or less important than copy that describes the composition of the actual product?

The result is a package that communicates to adults and kids. The face panel is filled with cute and recognizable aquatic creatures that may have come from a children’s storybook – appealing to kids, yet the package communicates the commitment to small-batch manufacturing of high-quality pasta that offers taste, texture, and wholesome family food. This is definitely not what comes off a huge assembly line – an important message that I feel can be told with a little more impact.

All this being said, I like the packaging. The shape is unique; the graphic design is fun (even if it is a bit cluttered and busy) but all in all, this package offers a pleasant change to a crowded category.


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The purpose of our “findings” blog is to spotlight packaging that displays thinking that breaks the mold and delivers something new or chancy – or at the very least, highlights packaging that catches your eye in the retail environment.