Imagine Creativity in the World of Snacks – Doritos Tortilla Chips

Walking down the chips aisle of any supermarket or convenient store worldwide the consumer experiences a sea of similar packages excelling in plainness. Brand messages are lost, delicate packages lead to broken and wasted product, and the bulky flexible bags are costly to handle. The flexible plastic chips bag boasts only one thing: the inevitable and systematic demolition of each formerly full-bodied, with care manufactured and delicious chip arrested between its fragile walls.

In general, current chips bags have three layers: a printed outer layer with packaging visuals and graphics, an inner layer, which serves as a barrier to maintain the quality and integrity of the product, and a middle layer that joins the other two layers.

Strange as it may sound, but snack food manufacturers are characterized as some of the most innovative packagers, except for portion control, convenience and sustainability, that’s definitively not the case with the chips manufacturers.
Apparently they ignore all studies in which packaging is acknowledged as the primary driver in decision-making, with the consequence that packages looking too traditional are no longer appealing to consumers, who are swayed by a wide range of conscious, emotional and subliminal influences. New sizes and particularly shapes communicate a product message and encourage brand loyalty more strongly. Look at Procter & Gamble’s Pringles.

But if all market surveys argue that packaging shapes are the future, why are so many products packaged in the same format as their competitors, and apparently with no exception?

Cost is clearly an important factor and standardisation makes it easier to run a large number of similar products or brands through the same system. Take PepsiCo’s Frito Lay, with its many brands as an example.
The role packaging plays in the marketing of products, is evident and well known, but who challenges the brand owners to do things differently?

Imagine Doritos Tortilla Chips
Doritos is a brand of flavoured tortilla chips (toasted corn) invented by Arch West and produced since 1964 by the US food company Frito-Lay (a division of PepsiCo, Inc.).

Basing his design on the shape and texture of the Doritos tortilla chip, Peter Parlov created a redesign of the snack’s packaging. Besides being a visual standout, the geometric formation or surface triangulations allow for opening and closing without the use of a clip.

Petar Pavlov, born in Skopje, Macedonia, with a degree in Graphic Design & Visual Communications from Accademia Italiana, is a graphic designer at McCann Erickson, where he works for clients such as Coca-Cola, Fanta and Bacardi amongst others. He is also involved in experimental design work at the academy, offering him the opportunity to blend strategic and visual thinking.

Thinking out of the bag into the box. Let’s hear from the designer himself the argumentation, when he recognised the link between the original homeland of the chips: Mexico and the packaging.
Petar: “So I dug deep into the Mexican history which brought me to their ancient ancestors, the Aztecs and their recognizable sculptures, the totem poles. The final form of the packaging resembles a simplified totem, and even has an extra feature: the structure kept the packaging closed after opening.”

Intended to be a totem pole or not, the triangles also look like the chips itself, called nachos, the Mexican name given to a tortilla chip topped with cheese and chilli-pepper and broiled.

The packaging can be made out of environmentally friendly cardboard, a material whose natural texture slightly resembles the one of the chips. The structure of the packaging allows for opening and reclosing.
Brand-wise, this solution will differentiate Doritos from any other competition and build a strong ‘shelf effect’, as the triangular faces, beside the ergonomic value, create a perfect canvas for expressive illustrations.

Unfortunately the consumer will probably never see this Doritos packaging in the convenience stores or supermarkets as Pavlov originally conceived this design for a contest brief sent out by YCN, a London-based creative agency, which asked designers to create a totally new packaging concept for Doritos. Whatever the case, the design is certainly a fresh treat for the eyes.


10 responses to “Imagine Creativity in the World of Snacks – Doritos Tortilla Chips

    • Marc,
      Looks like it’s you who is soliciting for new clients. Posting two website generally classifies a comment as Spam. I shall let it go this time. If you want to promote your company consider advertising. Some 25,000 packaging professionals are visiting this blog, reading every word. Worth giving it a try.

      • Apologies. Wasn’t hunting for business. Just wanted to help. Many of the companies who didn’t rate that well in our study definitely have packaging needs. Again, sorry if I offended.



      • Marc, sorry you didn’t offend me. I just wanted to inform you that comments with 2 or more websites are spammed automatically. Can you imagine how many ‘idiots’ are sending the most offensive websites and how many serious companies try to use my blog to promote their products and services (of course free of charge). I have to be strict.
        Sorry, to frustrate your good intention.

  1. Very neat design. It would also appear to allow Frito Lay to ship direct to customers and they could stock their own shelves improving distribution and reducing costs.

  2. Anton, great article, as always…
    It’s always nice to see inspiring & fresh ideas; pity however that economic reasons quite often are the reason why many innovative ideas will never take off. There must be thousands of concepts that are lost for the packaging industry because they end up on the shelf. Only a few are persistent enough – believing in their idea / invention – to persevere and get it into the market…
    Anyway, keep inspiring packaging-technologists (like myself) and packaging-users (in other words: all of us) with the reports of your journeys in Packaging-land! Thanks from all of us…

    • Marcel, thanks for your friendly words. I agree there are too many designs and ideas not coming to bloom. However I hope that my articles stimulate creative thinking of all people involved in packaging and it’s whereabouts.
      In all the years I have been dealing with packaging technology, I discovered that only few can think outside their branch. Example: Read my most recent post about the refills and it’s solution for shampoo. But with a bit of creativity you can imagine this solution for say ketchup, mayo etc. I try to make that clear, but sometimes I’m afraid it’s just wishful thinking.
      Abraço from a fellow Dutchman.

    • One more word Marcel. Re. your: “There must be thousands of concepts that are lost for the packaging industry because they end up on the shelf.”
      That’s true, but it is amazing how many designers/inventors contact me after I wrote an article about their creation, telling me that they had been contacted by (name any multinational). I had one, the S-Pouch from a Taiwanese engineer, he wrote he had so many contacts he couldn’t handle them all. That’s promising, isn’t it.

  3. When the new purposed package for Doritos is closed, how would it retain it’s barrier properties? I think it is a great idea, I guess I am not getting the full picture.

    • Sheldon, you are too clever. Of course there is no barrier when closed, but remember it’s a design. When accepted, it’s up to the technologists to get it working. That’s the full picture, get an idea, detail it and get it working with all its requirements. Example, you are known with the glue-free cohesive closure of Ampac and/or Amcor film, they use for chocolate bars? If not tell me, and I (might) write about it next time. Just an idea.

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