It’s not often that a package redesign makes national news, but it happened this week when the new Barnum’s Animals crackers box was unveiled.
For more than a century, the red and yellow cookie box showed artwork of circus animals behind bars, but the new box has the animals roaming free.
A headline from Fast Company.com proclaimed, “Animal Crakcers finally redesigns its soul-crushingly sad packaging.” That explains why this was an issue for the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which provided input during the creation of the new design.
The design from 1902 showed animals in cages, as if the cookie packages were boxcars on a toy train carrying the traveling Barnum & Bailey Circus. But people have changed their views of how animals should be treated. The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus closed in 2017 citing low ticket sales.
Artistically, the new box is prettier, with a zebra, elephant, lion, giraffe and gorilla in the wild, walking shoulder to shoulder in a grassland.
“Big victories can come in small packages, and no matter where we look, we find new evidence that people are embracing compassion for animals like never before,” a statement issued by PETA begins. “The new box for Barnum’s Animals perfectly reflects that our society no longer tolerates caging and chaining exotic animals for circus shows. PETA is celebrating this redesign just as we’ve celebrated the closure of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and an end to the use of wild animals in many other circuses.”
So, like the candy cigarettes that used to be available to children, the caged circus animals are gone from store shelves. It’s a reflection of how times have changed, and it’s a change for the better, There’s no need to feel nostalgic about animal crackers — they are still with us. Celebrate this progress with a glass of milk.