One hundred years is a milestone not many reach, but San Antonio-based H.E. Butt Grocery Company is observing its centennial this year. As part of its celebration H.E.B. created a special line of products, promotions and packaging, including a Lone Star-embossed glass jar for jams and salsas. With help from Berlin Packaging’s San Antonio office and the supplier’s Studio One Eleven Design Group, H.E.B. is finding the eye-catching jar is helping consumers celebrate.
“We wanted it to have a vintage feel,” says Kate Rogers, director of public affairs for H.E.B. “The whole campaign’s feature focus is to thank our consumers. We wanted them to save the jar and remember the celebration.”
Rogers says that while the jar harkens to the past, it houses new flavors like Chipotle Garlic salsa that hint to H.E.B.’s future. “The flavors represent today’s consumer and Texas,” she says. “We really wanted the products to reflect the Texas palate and be specialized.”
Although the year 2005 marks the centennial anniversary of H.E.B., a grocer with stores in Texas and northern Mexico, some anniversary products were launched in November 2004, with brainstorming beginning a year in advance.
To design the special Lone Star jar, the chain approached its contract filler, Jardine Foods, who referred it to the San Antonio office of Berlin Packaging.
“They wanted it to look like a home canned jar. They wanted something authentic that would take them back 100 years. Something similar to what they had in their original stores and that could be re-used,” says Tris Catan, senior account manager in Berlin’s San Antonio office. “We met with H.E.B. and took all the different samples of jars we had in [our] San Antonio office. And we arrived at a rounded square jar.”
H.E.B. wanted a glass jar because, Catan says, the food products it would be packaging are required to be in glass. Embossing was H.E.B.’s idea to add authenticity, permanence and reusability.
From there, the ideas and the H.E.B.-designed Lone Star Centennial logo were given to Studio One Eleven. “First, we considered the marketability, what would speak to the brand and client,” Studio One Eleven director Guy Considine explains. “Second, the manufacturing—we took [it] from concept to final product. It needs to look good but, also, the cost must be competitive so the customer will buy it.” Finally, he says, a strong consideration with this project was the filling and the handling of the glass design by the distributors.
H.E.B. was also looking for a turnaround of four months from concept design to delivery, Considine says. The “aggressive” time line helped make the decision for a supplier.
“We had to choose a [glass] supplier that could handle the accelerated volume and quick turnaround time,” he says. “They had produced a jar similar to this, so they knew the basic jar dimensions and could work with samples.”
Also challenging were the parameters set by the jar’s decoration and uses.
“This project needed special considerations, as with any time you’re embossing,” explains Considine. “We had to make sure it was going to look good throughout manufacturing, client filling and presentation.”
To showcase the embossed jar and the product inside, H.E.B. designed neck tags that also identify the product on shelf. The tags, which show an illustrated chipotle pepper surrounded by garlic, are printed on 130 lb. gloss cover stock with a digital four-color process.
“[The neck tag] is a great way to describe the attributes and add to the vintage packaging feel,” H.E.B.’s Rogers says.
The Lone Star-embossed jar has been available since mid-spring and will be on shelves until the end of 2005, as with H.E.B’s other Centennial line goods, which include bottled sodas, Texas-shaped crackers and tinned cookies and candies. BP
The author, Jennifer Zegler, is a contributing editor to BRANDPACKAGING. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Retailers aren’t the only ones producing specialty glass jars. Welch’s has been producing collectible glass jelly jar tumblers since 1953. And for its 29th series incarnation, the company rolled out a Curious George set this May. Inspired by the classic children’s stories, originally published in 1941, the tumblers come in advance of an animated movie on the popular character from Universal Pictures.
Welch’s says the jelly jar tumblers have remained a favorite among kids and adults throughout the years and multiple series.
“Whether it was Howdy Doody, Winnie the Pooh or the Muppets, the characters on the Welch’s collectible glass jars have always been ones that have evergreen appeal,” says Deborah Frank, product manager of spreads for Welch’s. “Curious George is a tried and true character who has a style and personality to which we all can relate, and in many ways, admire.”
Franks says memories of Curious George’s antics and of drinking out of Welch’s jars are bound to attract consumers to the new tumblers. “Our collectible jars have a disproportionate share of our consumers’ minds,” she says. “People think of Welch’s grape jelly and they think of the tumblers, and many people even can tell you what character they had on the glasses when they were kids.”
The loyalties run so deep that Welch’s wouldn’t consider following industry trends and producing a collectible plastic jar. “Part of the appeal of Welch’s collectible series is the fact this is a 52-year-old tradition, and part of that tradition is the glass,” Frank says. “People have warm memories of these glasses from their childhood. In many ways, the package has not changed all that much. Changing to plastic would take away some of that tradition and the sense of nostalgia people feel when they purchase that glass jar.”
The jar’s Universal Studios Consumer Products Group-licensed Curious George label was designed by Buffalo, N.Y.-based Eric Mower & Associates and then printed with a rotogravure heat transfer label by Multi-Color Corporation. Glass supplier St. Gobain adhered the label to the glass jar.
Package design. At Eric Mower & Associates, call 716.842.2233 or visit www.mower.com.
The August issue of Packaging Strategies reveals our annual Top 100 Food and Beverage Packaging Companies and the trends that have come up during the year. Also in these pages, you will find feature articles on a toy packaging trend that’s a big hit, color management, an adhesive solution that left a frozen foods processor chilled out, how flexographic printers can help with sustainability, produce packaging trends, and more.