The History of Holiday Flavors

Screen Shot 2016-11-23 at 10.11.54 AMThere’s no way around it — 2016 has been a strange year.

Olympic athletes swam in questionable green pools. Clowns terrorized the nation for over a month. Pringles has three different dessert-flavored chips out at once… Screen Shot 2016-11-23 at 9.47.43 AM

Photo from Pringles’ official twitter

Pecan Pie, Sugar Cookie, and Salted Caramel. Count ‘em, that’s three sweet Pringles for the holiday season – limited edition, of course, as are most gimmicky flavored snacks.

Now that we are about midway through the season in which everything from chips to ChapStick has to have some pumpkin spice/gingerbread/peppermint variation, we can’t help but wonder…how did we get to this point?

Oreos are probably the treat best associated with limited edition flavors. After all, their experiments in novelty cookies are not just bound by holidays – they play the game all year long, with nearly ten new selections produced in 2016 alone (including Swedish Fish and Lemon Twist). Consumers could first buy a limited edition Oreo in 1985, when the company debuted the decidedly mild and normal Mint Crème.

Since then, it has been the Wild West in the snack flavoring world. Most companies seem to stick to the holiday season for major shakeups, and all traditional taste conventions go flying out the window the minute the temperature starts dropping. It isn’t just savory foods going sweet – in 1994, Jones Soda put out Turkey and Gravy cola (imagine the possibilities, Pringles!), and it was only a few years ago that Accoutrements put out a Thanksgiving gumball pack that included turkey-flavored gumballs.

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Photo from Amazon

Of course, the most pervasive and beloved flavor of the season is pumpkin spice. The first reference to pumpkin spice is believed to have come from the 1796 cookbook American Cookery by Amelia Simmons, and the recipe called for molasses, allspice and ginger. McCormick’s and similar brands shortened the name of their spice blend from “pumpkin pie spice” to just “pumpkin spice” as early as the 1960s, after the blend had been on the market for a decade. Trader Joe’s began carrying seasonal pumpkin goods in the mid-90’s, and as the flavor continues to get more and more popular, their selection grows – there will be ten more pumpkin-themed items for sale this year than last year. Pop-Tarts, cream cheese, vodka, cereal, bagels, coffee creamer, popcorn, even salsa and hummus – all can be found in a pumpkin spice variety this fall.

Starbucks is largely responsible for the phenomenon, as their pumpkin spice latte, which has been around for thirteen years, is by far their most popular seasonal item. They have sold over two hundred million “PSLs” since the drink debuted, earning hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for the company. Social media has played a huge role in this, so much so that the drink has its own separate verified Twitter account: @TheRealPSL.

This is not to say that seasonal flavors are all about the traditional – at the height of the cupcake craze of the early 2010s, Target released a popular “holiday milk” flavored like chocolate red velvet. So there is definitely room for brands to incorporate trends into their seasonal flavor selections, and we should expect to see more creativity in the coming years. After all, 1796-2016 is a long reign for pumpkin spice. If Pringles has given us any indication, future tastes can be unexpected.

7 Tips to Make Your Holiday Packaging Memorable

This time of year millions and millions of Americans rev up their holiday engines and get into the holiday spirit. In line with that spirit, it has become increasingly common to see themed holiday packaging on the shelves, for short-run and/or limited edition products.  Given that, brands shouldn’t just get into the spirit – they should capitalize on it. Now that we are in the stretch run to the holidays, we thought it was appropriate to list some of our favorite ways to make your holiday packaging stand out.

1. Add Non-Religious Holiday Elements

Limited Edition Packaging DesignLimited Edition PackagingYou don’t need to choose a certain holiday or religion to get in the holiday spirit. Stick with things like holiday color palettes, traditional holiday decorations, and non-religious characters, like snowmen. This will appeal to a mass audience and will help you steer clear of alienating any particular group.

2. Make It a GiftLimited Edition Packaging Design

Everything from a small bag of candy to an expensive trip around the world can be given as a gift. Whether your product could be considered a stocking stuffer or the main event, make sure it can be given as a gift. For instance, by simply changing your packaging to a red and green, silver and gold, or blue and white theme to welcome the winter holidays, you can make your product instantly giftable. Consider also adding a gift name tag with a blank “To:” and “From:”

3. Create a Gift Set

Limited Edition Packaging Design

Gift sets are an easy made for convenient gifting, and that is why they always tend to pop up around this time of year. If you have a somewhat varied product line and can combine a numerous products into a complementary set, that may be your best bet.  Alternatively, the gift set concept also provides an opportunity to experiment with co-branding by adding complementary products from third party companies.

4. Go Limited Edition

Limited Edition Packaging Design

Everyone wants to feel like they got (or gifted) an exclusive item. By creating limited edition packaging design for a particular holiday, your customers can feel like they received something truly unique that will be available for a limited time only. Find a way to make your customers feel special.

5. Make It Luxurious

Limited Edition Packaging Design

This is the time of year when people want to feel luxurious. They want to give gifts that make their loved ones feel special. Taking your packaging up a notch at this time of year may cost a bit extra, but shoppers are usually willing to pay it during the holidays.  Pearlescent or other specialty inks, innovative dielines, unique packaging structures and engraved/embossed lettering can take a pedestrian package and luxurify it.

6. Pre-Giftwrap It

Limited Edition Packaging Design

If possible, use the outer packaging as a type of giftwrap. This will help shoppers instantly identify the product as a holiday item, while encouraging them to purchase the item with a gifting purpose in mind.

7. Bold, Colorful Packaging for Kids and AdultsLimited Edition Packaging DesignLimited Edition Packaging Design

Colorful packaging with bold, light-hearted illustration will almost always stand out in a crowd. Children are also more drawn to friendly colorful packaging, so choosing holiday themes and elements during the specific time of year can appeal to both kids and their parents.