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A Century of Candy Bars: An Analysis of Wrapper Design
By Dave Grager

The purpose of this analysis was to gain a broad understanding of the design process of packaging in the confections (specifically candy bar) category. The aim was to, first, take an historical look at the development of the product category. Then, through the study of graphic design trends related to the product, understand what sociocultural, technical, and manufacturing events triggered such trends.

The findings present a clear picture of an industry that relies heavily upon packaging as the main sales tool for reaching consumers. Because of the impulse-purchase, which the industry accounts for almost all of its sales, the package must communicate on its own merits — often without supporting media. Therefore, the design of such wrappers can be as important, if not more so, than the actual product.

The nature of the product — the fact that it is a sweet and historically given as a reward or act of affection — plays another important factor in regard to brand identity and management, and the necessity to keep brands (packaging) culturally relevant.

Download A Century of Candy Bars: An Analysis of Wrapper Design [1.5 Mb], thesis, Syracuse University 2004.

Dave has served as creative director of Parker Hannifin, a Fortune 400 multinational corporation and as an adjunct faculty member at Youngstown State University teaching advertising in the graphic design department.

Dave received an associate’s degree in visual communication from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, a BFA from Youngstown State University in graphic design, and a master’s degree in advertising design from Syracuse University.

Dave’s work has been featured by Creativity, American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), adcritic.com, brandchannel.com, and Rockport Publishing.

Maintained through our ADV @ UnderConsideration Program
PUBLISHED ON Mar.09.2005 BY Speak Up
Jason Tselentis’s comment is:

This looks like an ambitious project, Dave. I can't wait to chew through the document—all 75 pages worth.

On Mar.09.2005 at 10:55 PM
Dave Grager’s comment is:

Well, have fun with it. It was a big undertaking and I'd love to hear some feedback.

On Mar.10.2005 at 08:36 AM
Michael A’s comment is:

I highly recommend you contact Steve Almond, author of the recently published book "Candy Freak." It's is a funny, yet touching nonfiction book about all kinds of candy, from the obscure to the popular. I am slightly biased as he is my twim brother, but regardless, he is wealth of knowledge. visit his site Candy Freak

On Mar.10.2005 at 08:58 AM
Dave Grager’s comment is:

Michael, thanks. I will contact him, would love to hear his thoughts. I've been hearing things about the book - it's on my list. By the way, Ad Critic, just today, has a link to apply for a new DoubleMint Twins campaign - what would you do to be a DoubleMint twin? God... what I would do...

On Mar.10.2005 at 09:47 AM
debbie millman’s comment is:

Just finished my second read-through. Really an excellent, thesis, Dave.

On Mar.10.2005 at 11:26 AM
Al aka El Negro Magnifico’s comment is:

Just downloaded this to give it a read.

I'd like to mention that I love buying candy bars in the States (I'm a Canuck), because y'all seem to find new and tasty ways to serve up peanut butter. :)

On Mar.10.2005 at 04:05 PM
michael almond’s comment is:


You should contact him for sure. He will tell you, in great length, what to do with a double mint twin...the candy that is. I have ideas on what to do with twins in general, but not relevant to the topic (long story).

He is publishing his third book, another collection of short shorties. I can't wait to read it as each book published revealed his true obsessiond #1. The first, hmm..was about mating rituals (sex as high art) and the second (candy as sex as high art)...lol.

Honestly, he writes about what he loves and knows and is brlliant; I'm just nervous about what else equals love for my twin..candy and sex covers a lot, but the boy is brilliant.

Mention that his twin brother, Michael, is pimping him if you would...I need the points! And I want him to know how much I respect his work. You rock, btw...thanks!


On Mar.16.2005 at 05:24 AM
michael almond’s comment is:

Dave, btw, what would you do with a double mint twin??? Be honest! Also, I am a green writer myself. I am a Web Designer by trade, but have recently joined the ranks of contribtuting authors for Digital Web Magazine.

My first article, The Web is a Human Creation was published in Sept. I'm no Steve Almond, but it was a blast!

On Mar.16.2005 at 05:45 AM
michael almond’s comment is:

I apologize! I just noticed (and downloaded with intent to read ASAP) the essay itself. I thought it was still in outline phase. WOW! Looks like I will be sending this to mister "Candy Freak" for his education.

p.s. you may be the first person to actually bring one of each of our respective passions, his being candy and mine design, together in a tangible way. Thanks!

On Mar.16.2005 at 07:53 AM
whitney’s comment is:

interesting read....the frequent use of "it's" as a possessive was really bothersome though...

and i'm hungry for a snickers now.

On Mar.16.2005 at 12:01 PM
jamie’s comment is:

To anyone who is interested,

I’d love to get your feedback on some MFA papers that are in the works. These are just being developed and the students welcome your advice and insight. You can find them here at re:design.

On Mar.20.2005 at 10:11 PM
cybele’s comment is:

I just found this link! Great thesis topic, probably far too overlooked.

I definitely second the recommendation on Candy Freak, a great read (I read it on vacation).

I'd really like to post this on my blog, but I can just post a link back to your site if you like (don't know if it would be bandwidth issues for you).

I've only skimmed it (for the pictures) but it looks like a fascinating read.



On Jul.16.2005 at 09:19 PM
me’s comment is:

this helped me sooooo

On Dec.11.2007 at 11:22 AM
me’s comment is:

this helped me sooooo much on my reaearch paper.

On Dec.11.2007 at 11:22 AM
kirmani’s comment is:

dave you deserve admirance for the effort you did in your research.....it helped me a lot for writing my project on packaging....God bless you

On Apr.07.2008 at 11:22 PM