em Feature

Confectionary packaging has always been a tricky one for most companies I imagine. After all, how do you make your sweets really stand out from every other packet on the shelf? Every chocolate bar pretty much looks the same and most are the same size and shape, so packaging really is everything - that and a gimmick.

You’d have thought Rowntree had it cracked with Smarties long ago. No other sweets came in a tube. They were easy to open, and you could eat some, pop the lid back on and save the rest for later; unless you were a greedy kid, where they were probably all gone in one tip of the tube.

Ease Of Opening
This ‘ease of opening’ also had it’s downside though, I clearly remember being given a tube of Smarties after school when I was about 6, popping them open with a little bit too much enthusiasm and the little bastards flying everywhere. And just to add insult to injury, the path leading out of the school up to where all the parents met their kids was on a hill, so being the lovely UFO shape they are, the swine’s started rolling down the hill. Suffice to say the tears came thick and fast.

And I wasn’t the only victim in this cruel trick of fate. I saw many a child - eyes welled up with tears as their lovely round candy trundled down the hill, only to be picked up and eaten by those less deserving. Well, you know what kids are like, not only are they cruel little bastards, but they’ll eat anything short of it being covered in shit.

But now Nestle are calling the shots, and it seems they’ve hit upon this fantastic idea that can only go down as ‘a stupid idea’ and get some designer fired along the line. Anyway, it’s a new millennium, and this calls for forward thinking. So maybe this is a genuine idea, or maybe it’s just one big prank – akin to that trick gum that’s really a sort of mousetrap – but here we have Smarties in a can.

Combining two themes kids love, sugar coated chocolate discs and fizzy soft drinks, Smarties in a can could be deceiving at first. Is it a drink; is it a confectionary – who knows? Well, one touch of the ‘can’ will tell you it’s probably sweets as the thing is made of plastic. A further shake will confirm those suspicions by the familiar rattling sound only Smarties can produce – oh ok, M&M’s too.

Well, firstly don’t let the size deceive you. The can is about the same size as those disappointingly small cans of pop kids get in their sandwich boxes, which, before I open the thing, leads me to believe it’ll contain mini Smarties as opposed to the full-sized beasts. But alas, it IS the normal ones. See, they could have gone for the full ‘mini’ theme there with the size of the can reflecting the size of the Smarties within. Some people just don’t think things through.

Well the can is opened and I can only say I’m confused. What the hell is going on with this ringpull? It certainly doesn’t come off and it just sort of flops around. At first I thought it may click back into place so you could reseal it, but no, the thing is looser than a drunken council estate schoolgirl.

But just as I’m laying into it, the whole idea becomes apparent - tip the can upside down and the weight of the Smarties pushes the ring back into place. Genius! Of course, I wouldn’t test this out myself, and I have visions of kids’ schoolbags being overrun with rogue Smarties due to the failure of the floppy ring pull idea.

Well I thought I’d come across another problem here. It seems that the genius of the self-closing ring-pull idea had it’s downside, that being when you tipped the can up to pour the delectable candy into your mitt, the ring pull closes, denying you the sugar-coated goodness.

But looking at the puzzle from a different angle reveals that simply holding the ring-pull open allows the sweets the slip freely from their plastic prison into warming freedom of the hand. Ah, those Nestle scientists certainly had their heads firmly screwed on when designing this bad boy.

Anyway, despite all that nonsense there is a distinct problem when all the Smarties are gone. What are you meant to do with the empty can? To me it’s just a big waste of plastic, especially in a time where we should be a little more resourceful. I suppose lopping off the top could turn it into a pen pot or something, but like kids are going to be THAT resourceful. At least the original tubes are made of card and the plastic top has that letter on the underside so it could be collected. This can thing is just a waste though. So in the bin it goes!

david twomey

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