Why would you want to collect food packaging?
What do oats, Fruit Roll-Ups, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have in common? It may not be obvious at first, but they actually have a TON in common! Attractive packaging has always been an integral part of selling food, and now it has also become an essential part of many collections. Ever since the first cold cereal was introduced in 1863, people have been hanging onto the boxes for the art, and food tins have been saved since around 1813 (but who’s keeping track? Oh wait, we are). Remember Grandma’s repurposed cookie tin? Collectible! Whether you collect licensed characters, vintage items, or are simply cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, there’s a type of food packaging just waiting for you!
Food packaging is actually way more exciting than it sounds. True, those two words together don’t get most people jumping up and down with excitement. But the most important fact about food packaging (from a collector’s standpoint) is this: it was made to be disposable, which means not a lot of people thought to keep it around. That means it’s rare, and rare means valuable. Recently, a seemingly regular box of Quaker Cap’n Crunch Peanut Butter Cereal from 1963 sold for almost $3,000! If that sounds bonkers, consider that collectors often spend around $450 for a single box. Space Race aficionados and 1950’s memorabilia collectors alike bid on a La Rosa brand Space Wheels Pasta box that eventually sold for over $300 — and that’s just for the box!
One of the most appealing aspects of packaging collecting is the broad appeal across many different fandoms. Star Wars? Check! Ghostbusters? Check! Sports? Double check! You might say finding a pristine 1970’s box of C-3PO’s is as hard as finding a vinyl caped Jawa figure! The appeal of packaging doesn’t end with licensed figures such as Superman and Minions, though. Advertising mascots like Count Chocula and Lucky the Leprechaun are collectible in their own right — especially their iterations from 1950-1970’s. Klondike Pete’s Crunchy Nuggets, anyone? (Yeah, we didn’t know who he was either…but collectors do!)
What is the breakfast of champions (and sports memorabilia collectors)? Yep, we can’t mention collectible cereal boxes without giving Wheaties their own shout out! Wheaties has been spotlighting sports stars on their boxes since 1934. Who’s the quintessential Wheaties poster boy? Michael Jordan of course, with a whopping 18 appearances. Is there anything as iconic and desirable as his 1998 jumpman box? We’ll toast….errr, we mean cheer(io)s to that accomplishment!
What is it about collectible packaging that’s so valuable? Well, the answer isn’t as cut and dry as you’d think. Licensed characters like Spiderman and Pokemon appeal to those fandoms, while more obscure and conceptual properties like rarity and artistry appeal to vintage and period collectors. Whether you’re a fan of the 1960’s, mod design, Star Trek, or heck, even just breakfast, there is food packaging waiting for you! Sure, it might have been tucked away in Grandma’s pantry for 50 years, but now it’s waiting on eBay to be added to your collection. How will you stock your collection with these once-edible wonders?