These old candy bar commercials are a reminder of how product design used to be good

Originally published at: These old candy bar commercials are a reminder of how product design used to be good | Boing Boing

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I actually remember when they changed the wrapper design from “wraparound” to “Not wraparound?”

3 Musketeers used to be my favorite candy bar when I was a kid but one day when I went to buy one I noticed something was different. The store still had some with the original wrapper design and I compared them.

The new one looked physically the same size but still seemed “off”.
Then I looked at the weight and discovered they had shaved off a bit of weight and left it “unwrapped”. Price was the same though.

It was like when Ralphie figures out the secret Ovaltine Message: SON OF A BIATCH!

After that I never trusted anything and found the world just lies to kids.


This is called “shrinkflation” (yes, really) and is a standard move in all product categories. Manufacturers resist raising prices at all costs (so to speak) because people notice that immediately and sales will drop. Reducing the product size slightly while keeping the prices the same is a way to battle inflation and rising costs in a way that consumers don’t tend to notice. People notice eventually, but it takes many years instead of seconds.


Look how wide the 3 Musketeers used to be…


When the Big Three peanut butter manufacturers went from 18-ounce jars to the current standard of 16 ounces several years ago, they kept the jars the same apparent size, but made the bottoms concave (like the “punt” in the bottom of Champagne bottles), so that the jars held less product.

As I recall, Jif was the last to succumb to market pressures, and for a while their label proclaimed “STILL 18 OUNCES!” Of course, that quietly disappeared when they got in line with Peter Pan and Skippy.


I remember years ago reading an article where a designer was roasting product mascots, wish i could find it to link to it. But the gist of their thesis was that the original designs were always superior and that with each “fresh redesign” the quality dips because it’s a new person that is tasked with coming up with something new but familiar, and you get this weird game of telephone where each iteration misses a small point of the previous version. The same goes for these kinds of brad reimaginings, where things get polished but they try to keep it familiar and it totally misses the point of the original design’s intention.


Your mention of their Twitter account piqued my curiosity and I had to go there. I like that they are trying to cultivate some sort of positivity, but I like the idea of 3 Musketeers Strawberry Kebabs even more. I want to quit my day job and do nothing but eat those for a week or so.


As I recall it was John Kricfalusi, of “Ren and Stimpy” fame. I can’t find the roasting, but here’s an article on his attempt to revive the Quisp cereal mascot.

ETA: here’s at least one of his roasts of post-1960s mascot design. There’s a “get off my lawn” vibe to it but he isn’t wrong about the cool old designs.

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It won’t tickle my tongue, zebra.


I would call it bland taste rather than bad taste, and it is very much intentional. The movement toward flat, lifeless, corporate sameness has been a trend in graphic design and typography for decades.


I believe that’s because originally 3 Musketeers used to consist of a chocolate, vanilla and strawberry bar. You know, so the name actually made sense and wasn’t just completely random. They could easily do this again, they’ve already released “limited edition” vanilla and strawberry flavors as well as a few others like raspberry, but they won’t.


The problem is that gives you 3 different chances to dislike it. Because if you only like 2 out 3 of the flavors, are you going to buy it?


Don’t think that was it, the one thing i recall is that i distinctly recall that one particular mascot had a smile. And in subsequent redesigns the other designers missed why certain things were drawn the way they were and the smile ended up being really strange. Either way other designers have given similar critiques like the one you provided :slight_smile:


Manufacturers usually get around that by making all three sections taste exactly the same.


This was true for the Milky Way bars too. I think it was just a “this is the size and shape a candy bar is supposed to be” decision on the part of Mars.

See, for example, this MW ad featuring Buster Keaton:

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I suppose that makes sense, but Neapolitan is a pretty popular combination, and vanilla and strawberry are flavors most people find unoffensive and would eat even if chocolate is their favorite. I’m not even suggesting they permanently go back to their roots, I’m just very surprised they haven’t ever released a limited edition “actually three of dems” 3 Musketeers bar for a couple months, considering we live in a world where things like Zombie Skittles and Swedish Fish Oreos aren’t considered as being too risky.

That’s not really what he’s (in)famous for any more…

What a surprise that the guy nostalgic for a time when men could harass and abuse women with even more impunity than today was a hebephilic sex predator. Whether it’s “make America great again” or “make animation great again,” these backward-looking cranks always seem to spell trouble.

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