BRANDPackaging just announced the winners of its 2017 Design Gallery People's Choice awards at the annual Packaging That Sells Conference held in Chicago October 23-25. The awards recognize some of the industry's best packaging designs based on how effectively the packaging uses graphics and structure to tell a brand's story.

This year's competition drew 60 submissions across five award categories: Paperboard, Flexible, Rigid Plastic, Glass and Metal. In addition, an overall Editor's Choice was named from all categories.

Unlike most other design competitions, the Design Gallery awards are chosen by online voting. This year, more than 5,000 votes were cast by BRANDPackaging readers, representing a broad cross section of packaging professionals. Many similar competitions are determined by only a small number of judges.

The General’s Hot Sauce, owned by Smoke Hall Foods L3C, was chosen as the winner for both the Glass category and the Editor’s Choice award. The package is a 6-oz, pineapple-style hand grenade bottle with a custom bottom plate and a threaded neck. There is a flat panel on the back of the bottle for a label. It includes a custom plastic black bottle cap that features a grenade-like "spoon" running down the side of the bottle, to which is attached a black, customized metallic dog tag that features the brand name as well as the company's motto, "A Great Sauce for the Greater Good."

Smoke Hall Foods is a veteran-owned company dedicated to making quality hot sauces and serving the greater good by creating employment opportunities for veterans and donating part of its profits to military and veteran families. The design was developed in-house by Todd Pelow, a company co-founder, with aid from Zing Bias, Inc., a Toronto agency.

“Our company, our brand, and our mission all have a military theme,” says Dan Ballister, Smoke Hall Foods CEO. “We felt that a grenade-style packaging solution would give us total alignment with all those elements, would be shelf-friendly for our retail partners, and would also be worthy of permanent space on the family kitchen table.

“We believe we have succeeded in creating head-turning packaging that is readily linked to our military-based mission. Given the instantaneous link between grenades, military, explosion, heat, and hot sauce, we find that folks react in a very favorable way.”

John Kalkowski, BRANDPackaging's editor in chief, praised the excellent packaging designs exhibited in this year’s entries. “Designers must always innovate in packaging. Each year you wonder what you will see that is new, exciting and will stand out on the shelf. In 2017, I believe we’ve seen the design bar reach new heights.”

Other category winners include:

FLEXIBLE: Amapola, a well-known brand of baking flour in Puerto Rico owned by Molinos de Puerto Rico. This laminated plastic pouch was designed by Kreative AD of San Juan. With colorful graphics for multiple flour types, the pouches provide moisture resistance and are reclosable to protect the product in Puerto Rico’s humid environment.

PAPERBOARD: Dean Foods has unveiled a restaging of its iconic ice cream brand Mayfield Creamery with a new logo and packaging graphics across its 60+ SKUs, designed by branding agency Hughes Design Group. The new package features a warm yellow and updates several elements to give the package a more modern look.

RIGID PLASTIC: Dixie Elixir is a medicinal cannabis beverage owned by Dixie Brands. The packaging is designed and produced by TricorBraun. Dixie Elixirs has been at the forefront of the legal changes in the cannabis industry. The bottles for the carbonated beverage are plastic, with tamper evidence, child-resistant closures and a dosage cup.

METAL: Ace Hardware has a broad product line of nearly 9,000 private-branded products sold throughout its hardware stores. Among these products is a line of spray paint cans. The goal of this packaging was to create a consistent family appearance for the paints, meet the 2017 regulatory updates for aerosol coatings and improve call outs and features of the product while maintaining Ace’s reputation as “The Helpful Place.”

Physical samples of the products were displayed at the Packaging That Sells Conference. To see the 2017 Design Gallery online, please visit The December issue of BRANDPackaging will feature many of the top Design Gallery submissions, with descriptions and explanations of the designs. Submissions for the 2018 Design Gallery People’s Choice awards are expected to open in June 2018.