Box Vox

packaging as content

December 6, 2012

Barbapapa

These anthropomorphic flavored syrup bottles by Savor & Sens at first reminded me of Al Capp’s Schmoo, but they are actually licensed products, based on an entirely different animated species that I had never heard of before: the shape-shifting creatures known as Barbapapa.

Barbapapa is both the title character, and name of the “species” of said character, of a series of children’s books written in the 1970s by Annette Tison and Talus Taylor, who resided in Paris, France. The books were originally written in French (barbe à papa — literally “Daddy’s beard” — is French for cotton candy1) and were later translated into over 30 languages.

from Wikipedia’s entry on Barbapapa

Granted, these characters can assume any form, but in their natural state they are part of the broader genus of bottom-heavy, Weeble-like creatures that inevitably evolve into packages.

See also: Anthropomorphic Shmoo Bottle Mr. Sprinkles, Roly Poly Tindeco Tobacco Tins, Light Bulb Bottles and Gömböc Bottles

(Digressions and more, after the fold…)

The Barbapapa characters are a good fit for a licensed set of Matryoshka dolls. (See also: Nested Packaging: Surprise Balls & Russian Dolls)

An earlier Barbapapa logo was an ambitious effort in anthropomorphic typography, where the characters used their shape-shifting abilities to form letters of marginal legibility. A later trademark attempted to improve the brand-name’s readability by showing each character simply holding a letter, rather than embodying it. (Personally, I prefer the top version which is also another good example of a logo with multicolored lettering.)

Footnoted Digression:

1. Having only ever known one name for the product known as “cotton candy” I was happy and surprised to suddenly learn of two more.

Barbe à papa, as Wikipedia indicates, is the French name, but in UK, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa, cotton candy is called candyfloss. This was news to me. I had only heard of “Candyfloss” in the Wilco song of the same name.

And here I’d been thinking all this time that it was Jeff Tweedy’s poetic invention—an oxymoron—because, who would ever floss with candy?