On New Years Eve I visited the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising in Notting Hill, London. I would heartily recommend a visit if you are ever in London.
My friend and I spent nearly two hours wandering around this relatively small building that was crammed full of all manner of advertising material and packaging, from bottles and jars to boxes and tins, from the Victorian era up to the present day.
There was so much to see, and not just food packaging. It was a timeline of British (mostly English) social history, which featured along with the general packaging and advertising of each age, examples of commemorative items produced for events such as coronations and the Great Exhibition of 1851.
I found it fascinating the way some products we know and love were almost instantly recognisable in their earlier incarnations, where key elements of the branding had been retained or changed only slightly.
Particularly interesting were the displays towards the end of the museum, which featured examples of the same products from across the decades, lined up next to each other on the shelves. The size, shape and material of the packaging may have changed only slightly, but there was a clear evolution across the years.
The most surprising thing for me was the realisation that many of the products that I remember as a child (mostly sweets and chocolates) which I thought were new, had in reality been around for decades before, like Smarties (first called Smarties in 1937). I wonder if this is just me or my generation, or does every generation think they are the first to try these “new fangled” products?
I resisted the temptation to spend any money in their shop, but they do have an online shop with some great postcards amongst other things, so I may well be tempted again.