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Tootsie Frooties 480 pcs

March 10, 2009

Sample #5

An unexpected surprise, this “Toostie Frooties” bag was found amidst the continuing snow flurries just a few paces east of Sample #4, on the northwest corner of North Ave. and Maryland at 6:57 pm on Sunday March 1st 2009.

I remember when I first picked it up, I thought the bag said “Footies” instead of “Frooties” and was certainly ready to toss it back to the rats. ick! Footies? Seriously? Gross! Oh, wait… Frooties! Obviously there are some issues here with the decision to purposely misspell ‘fruit’ and secondly turn it into a cutesy term that isn’t even an actual word.

But I’m glad I caught myself, because this is a pretty cool bag. Yet I have to admit there were several flashbacks to my childhood encapsulated in my moment of confusion. It was perhaps those long lost days of my own footie experiences that contributed to my immediate conclusion to read “Footies.” I remember scampering around the house as a spritely 3-year-old in my first yellow footie onesie. Then as I grew I graduated to the first of two blue footie onesies before moving onto other pajama formats after the age of six.

So you can see how the blue of the packaging subconsciously reminded me of my blue childhood pajamas, causing me to momentarily neglect my reading abilities, which conveniently brings me to my next point. Perhaps you noticed that this particular bag of Frooties is Blue Raspberry flavor? Rasp – berry? Really that’s how you spell it? Did anyone else know this? Well now that my apparent lack of spelling bee experience has been exposed and the legitimacy of my education put into question… I can only think of raspy berries.

On the subject of raspberry, (and these particular Frooties) where did “Blue Raspberry” flavor originate? It’s certainly a staple flavor of many candy and drink lines, but it leads me to question what was wrong with regular raspberry? Certainly there’s the color conflict. Both cherry and strawberry preemptively own the rights to the red coloring options, and I suppose the tame artificial flavor of blueberry lacks the zing and punch found in artificial raspberry flavoring. So does that mean that raspberry just trumped blueberry in the early days of flavor expansion and therefore won the rights to don the colors of its defeated berry brother? Either way I like the notion behind “blue” raspberries, but I have to say, the choice to illustrate them as such on this package definitely contributes to its bizarre style.

Speaking of the bizarre, or at least curious, is the way in which this package was opened. It seems to me that the plastic was punctured and slit with a knife instead of being awkwardly stretched and ripped open as most plastic bags of this kind are. I like to imagine this was the result of a serious, yet comical Baltimore street scene….

“I’ll slice you!” (an assailant bearing a knife)

Oh, yeah? Like hell you will sucka! (the soon to be sliced victim)

enter the Tootsie Frooties to the rescue! (the evasive and cunning, soon to be victim evades his apparent fate by whipping out our infamous bag of Frooties to defend himself!) …obviously the bag got knifed instead, spilling it’s bright blue contents all over the sidewalk. This once tubby bag just didn’t see it coming!

Honestly though, where can you find a bag of candy containing a whopping 480 pieces? That’s insane! I seriously hope that all the missing Frooties were not eaten by one person, because that would be nothing but a recipe for a hard-hitting, blue Chicago-stlye, stomachache! Yup. Who knew that the Tootsie Roll factory was located in Chicago? Matt & Missy why didn’t you tell me? All this time I thought there was nothing there but a tower from Sears, a giant bean sculpture, deep dish pizza and the Chicago Bulls. Oh yes, of course that’s where Ferris Bueller lives, and Chris Parker had her Adventures in Babysitting. Am I forgetting any other Chicago related goodness? Steve Urkel perhaps? So can someone take me to the Tootsie factory please? Is Dustin Hoffman going to be there?! I certainly hope so… I absolutely adore his work.

Alright, now that you are no doubt confused by my senseless pop-culture banter, let me settle down with a final word on the design of this ridiculous candy bag. First of all, I am now more than ever, wary of any word misspelled, or fabricated in the name of branding. As mentioned previously, the term “Frooties” although fun to say, can be far too easily misread as footies, which for obvious reasons is a problem. I for one wouldn’t want people thinking of footies when eating my candy, an image that when conjured only adds to the juvenile nature of the name. Plus Frooties not only sounds silly, but dated (seriously from the 70’s), and not in a good way. “Tootsie” ok, the company was named after its founder’s daughter in the early 1900’s and should be respected, but Frooties? No. Not in any decade that ever was, is, or will be.

Secondly, also in terms of nostalgic weirdness I just have to call out the blue raspberries once more. Ok, I get it. The Cherry Frooties bag probably has cherries on it, the Grape Frooties bag probably has grapes on it, etc. It might make sense to place the fictional blue raspberries on the bag. But what do the fruit punch and pink lemonade bags have illustrations of? All I have to say is there better be a variety of tropical fruits on one, and some fantastical pink lemons on the other to satisfy the requirements of branding consistency. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking the blue raspberries, I’m just questioning the logic.

What is perhaps the most delightful design aspect of the Tootsie Roll brand is their use of Cooper Black. While I am now very consciously realizing that their aesthetic is holistically dated, and has probably not been touched since the 70’s, at least it was well done at the time. It’s nice that the use of Cooper Black for their logo, has been consistently extended to this package on “480 PIECES” and “BLUE RASPBERRY.” If you’re going to shout by using caps, choosing Cooper Black is a nice way to shout with glee, especially about candy.

In terms of the font used for “Frooties,” although my opinion is neither here nor there, I must say I think it works for the most part. It is certainly fun and friendly. Even the jostling of the already oblique “Frooties” letters from their baseline – a required type offense to produce such a playful logo – is a legitimate decision in the name of this candy’s apparently jolly target audience. I also find the overlapping of the letters to be a subtlety pleasant.

Lastly, the calming colors used here certainly fit with the creamy-pastel palette of the vintage aesthetic applied across the Frooties brand. I say this only having encountered other flavors as individually wrapped Frooties each in their own appropriately pastel-colored wrapping. Although I doubt any candy released today would go pastel, I am ok with this use of the easy on the eyes blue. That is however aside from the small issue I have with the overwhelming urge to regard these colors as “minty” in the wintergreen sense, as often utilized by chewing gum brands. Perhaps this packaging lacks the jazzy addition of purple and magenta I would be inclined to add to the mix. Nevertheless, I must finally point out that in terms of hierarchy and layout the design elements are pretty decently distributed and balanced. The only awkward moment being on the front where the oblong circle encompassing “480 PIECES” covers a bit too much of the berries causing the leafy green tips of one berry to poke out in a strange way from underneath.

If you recall I started this post by claiming the finding of this bag to be an unexpected surprise, and ultimately that’s because this is truly a vintage artifact of fantastical, magical (by virtue of it’s longevity), and certainly silly design awesomeness. I can only wonder if this design will survive into the next decade, and if not what the update look like.

So in the end what have we learned? Raspberries has an ‘s’ in it. Don’t name your candy “Frooties” because that mistake’s already been made. Chicago is awesome. And design in the 70’s, thankfully had it going on.

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