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15 Creative Examples of Fast Food Packaging (Both Real and Imagined)

So much of fast food's appeal boils down to marketing—and that's why the packaging can sometimes make or break a product. Fast food packaging design is so important that some designers go out of their way to imagine their own renditions. Here are some packaging ideas that were practical, exciting, or downright crazy. 

1. CAPTURE THE MOMENT 

Earlier this summer, Kentucky Fried Chicken confused the public by announcing their new “Memories Bucket,” a container that the company said would print out Polaroid-like pictures via Bluetooth. The bucket has yet to hit the restaurants and might just be a strange publicity stunt, but we’re hungry for some fried chicken either way. 

2. SHOW TIME

Pizza Hut knows that pizza and movies are a great combination, so this year they created a pizza box that doubles as a projector. All you need is the box and a smartphone to turn any place into a mini movie theater.  

3. FOOD FOR BIKERS

Biking while holding fast food just got way easier thanks to the new McBike packaging, which carries a McDonald’s burger, fries, and drink. According to Wired, cyclists can hook the whole thing onto their handle bars and take their food on the go. The mint carrier was only available for a one day campaign in June in Copenhagen and Medellin, Colombia. 

4. MULTI-TASK

Burgers are delightful, but doing anything else while eating them can be tough. In a humorous ad campaign, Burger King proposed the “Hands Free Whopper” in 2013, a plastic stand that hooks around your shoulders (similar to a harmonica holder) that allowed a user to do other activities while chowing down. Sadly, this product never actually made it to the stores, so you'll actually have to put your burger down if you want to multi-task. 

5. SUGARY STRAWS

When Starbucks unveiled its S’mores Frappuccino in late spring, they made sure the straws were extra special too. The cookie straws are lined with chocolate to give you even more of that sugar you desperately crave. 

6. A GOOD READ

When eating alone, or with a particularly boring friend, your eyes might wander in search of something to read. Chipotle and Jonathan Safran Foer worked together to create complimentary entertainment—short stories by everyone from Jeffrey Eugenides to Aziz Ansari—on the sides of the chain's cups and bags. The project launched last year and continues to engage patrons today.

7. A COLORFUL WRAPPING

To celebrate the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade last year, Burger King created a new burger called the “Proud Whopper.” The burger was the same as always, but it was wrapped in a colorful rainbow paper that said “we are all the same inside.”

8. EDIBLE CUPS

KFC in Britain is experimenting with a cup that you can eat after drinking your coffee. The cup is made out of wafer and lined in sugar paper and white chocolate. The company believes that this interesting new packaging will appeal to environmentally conscious customers. 

9. FILL UP YOUR CUP

Designer Joshua Harris designed “Coffee Top Caddie,” a special molded top that lets you stack sugars and creamers on top of your Dunkin Donuts cup. Harris wasn't working with Dunkin, however, so this brilliant concept probably won't be available anytime soon.

10. GOAL!

To coincide with the 2014 World Cup, McDonald’s released a series of soccer-themed French fry holders designed by 12 different artists. After downloading the “McDonald’s GOL!” app, users could hover their phones over the sleeves to start a mini game. The fries became a goal and the player could knock a virtual ball into the net. 

11. HEAT ALERT

Netherlands-based designer Tiago Pinto doesn't want you to burn your mouth. That’s why he created a concept for Dunkin Donuts cups that alerts drinkers when their beverage is too hot. Hot cups are bright orange and say “I am hot!” but turn white once they've cooled to a safe temperature. This hasn’t been adopted yet, but we hope it is—it would really help keep us from missing the small window between scalding and lukewarm coffee. 

12. EAT YOUR TWEETS

Remember to watch what you tweet at Taco Bell, because they might shame you with tacos. When the fast food joint brought their Doritos Locos Tacos to Canada in 2013, their first action was to make the impatient complainers eat their words—literally. Those particular tweeters were invited to a "special fan event" and asked to eat tacos with their angry tweets printed on the side of the shell.

13. GET FANCY 

In an attempt to break into the luxury market, McDonald’s Japan rolled out the "Quarter Pounder Jewelry" series in 2013, which featured a number of fancy burgers that cost ¥1,000 ($10). The gourmet burgers incorporated high-end ingredients like avocado, chorizo, pineapple, and black truffle sauce. To showcase this fanciness, the food was packaged in a sleek white box embellished with a small golden M; the burger container even opened like a watch box. The packaging was so luxurious that customers could almost forget they were sitting in a plastic booth. 

14. TEXT ON YOUR TRAY

KFC Germany understands that texting with greasy fingers can be a real drag. To help out their oily patrons, they lined their trays with disposable Bluetooth keyboards instead of paper for a week in May. The plan seemed a little harebrained, but it worked—geolocated social interaction at the restaurants increased substantially. 

15. EAT IN SECRET

In Japan, it’s considered rude for women to open their mouths too wide in public. Sexism aside, it led to a decline in female customers at the Japanese burger chain FRESHNESS BURGER due to their food’s large size. To get women back in their restaurant, the chain introduced special napkins that hid women’s faces while they ate. The “Liberation Wrapper” had a woman’s lower face printed on it to give the illusion the eater wasn’t opening their mouths at all. The innovative wrappers led to a 200 percent leap in classic burger sales. 

BONUS: SPOOKY BURGERS 

Instead of making edgier packaging, Burger King once decided to just change the color of their actual food. Called the “Black Pearl” and the “Black Diamond,” the two meals were marketed in Japan right before Halloween 2014. The spooky-looking burgers had black buns and black cheese.

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Photo composite, Mental Floss. Car, ticket, Simon Laprise. Background, iStock.
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This Snow Sculpture of a Car Was So Convincing Cops Tried to Write It a Ticket
Photo composite, Mental Floss. Car, ticket, Simon Laprise. Background, iStock.
Photo composite, Mental Floss. Car, ticket, Simon Laprise. Background, iStock.

Winter is a frustrating time to be on the road, but one artist in Montreal has found a way to make the best of it. As CBS affiliate WGCL-TV reports, his snow sculpture of a DeLorean DMC-12 was so convincing that even the police were fooled.

Simon Laprise of L.S.D Laprise Simon Designs assembled the prank car using snow outside his home in Montreal. He positioned it so it appeared to be parked along the side of the road, and with the weather Montreal has been having lately, a car buried under snow wasn’t an unusual sight.

A police officer spotted the car and was prepared to write it a ticket before noticing it wasn’t what it seemed. He called in backup to confirm that the car wasn’t a car at all.

Instead of getting mad, the officers shared a good laugh over it. “You made our night hahahahaha :)" they wrote on a fake ticket left on the snow sculpture.

The masterpiece was plowed over the next morning, but you can appreciate Laprise’s handiwork in the photos below.

Snow sculpture.

Snow sculpture of car.

Snow sculpture of car.

Note written in French.

[h/t WGCL-TV]

All images courtesy of Simon Laprise.

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Douglas Grundy, Three Lions/Getty Images
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This 1940 Film on Road Maps Will Make You Appreciate Map Apps Like Never Before
Douglas Grundy, Three Lions/Getty Images
Douglas Grundy, Three Lions/Getty Images

In the modern era, we take for granted having constantly updated, largely accurate maps of just about every road in the world at our fingertips. If you need to find your way through a city or across a country, Google Maps has your back. You no longer have to go out and buy a paper map.

But to appreciate just what a monstrous task making road maps and keeping them updated was in decades past, take a look at this vintage short film, "Caught Mapping," spotted at the Internet Archive by National Geographic.

The 1940 film, produced by the educational and promotional company Jam Handy Organization (which created films for corporations like Chevrolet), spotlights the difficult task of producing and revising maps to keep up with new road construction and repair.

The film is a major booster of the mapmaking industry, and those involved in it come off as near-miracle workers. The process of updating maps involved sending scouts out into the field to drive along every road and note conditions, compare the roads against topographical maps, and confirm mileage figures. Then, those scouts reported back to the draughtsmen responsible for producing revised maps every two weeks. The draughtsmen updated the data on road closures and other changes.

Once those maps were printed, they were "ready to give folks a good steer," as the film's narrator puts it, quietly determining the success of any road trip in the country.

"Presto! and right at their fingertips, modern motorists can have [information] on any road they wish to take." A modern marvel, really.

[h/t National Geographic]

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