Thursday, July 26, 2007



Look, Tunnocks on wheels!

This Tunnock's Caramel Wafer Wagon has to be the smartest livery on the UK's roads today, especially since the Eddie Stobart Haulage Co. tragically dropped their traditional green and red brush-written cabs in favour of sad and underwhelming Photoshop digital signage. And to add insult to injury, Stobart drivers now may wear sloppy corporate polo-shirts instead of their once compulsory collar, tie and v-neck pullovers...how standards have dropped in the transport cafe milieu.

I've quite often spotted these fabulous Tunnocks vehicles on the road but have never had a camera in my pocket to take a snap. The other week I was very lucky to see this sparkling beaut parked up on an Industrial Estate in Chester-le-Street, Co.Durham. I was as happy as a trainspotter on a busy day at Crewe Interchange to get this shot.

But there is more to add to the whole Tunnocks biscuit debate first begun on my post of 5th July. A close gourmand friend has dropped a line to say: "much as I love Tunnock's teacakes and the packaging and their business philosophy, can't help but feel Lee's have the edge with their Snowballs and I really love Gray & Dunn's caramel wafers without the chocolate coating". I'll admit that Lee's snowballs are delicious with a cup of PG Tips and the (now rare) Gray & Dunn "bare" wafers are a spartan treat maybe even permissable during Lent, yet I feel even if Tunnocks products were made of noxious wax the packaging would still make them the outright winner in anyone's traditional confectionery stakes.

So, despite my sanctimonious condemnation of the power of contemporary marketing, I have to concede design wins over taste-on-the-tongue in this particular case. Any comments on products bought mainly for their visual appeal would be welcome. One other example for me is Wright's Coal Tar Soap. I love its plain paper packaging and the 1st World War style odour, but any contact with my problematic 21st Century skin would be inviting terrible sores and flaking...

7 comments:

Hurk said...

After i commended Tunnocks on their great paper packaging and how they've stuck with it on your previous post, i walked into a trendy deli place near work and was shocked to see a Tunnocks caramel wafer in a sealed foil wrapper,and even worse it- was 'giant sized'!

Boring Being said...

They've had a bittle of a fiddle with it of late, but the Glenryck Pilchards tin is a cracker.

John Bagnall said...

Gulp, I haven't seen the giant-sized caramel wafers yet, sounds a bit worrying Hurk.

If I remember rightly BB, the Glenryck tin is a nice rich and vivid dark red. Very classic but surely only a select few can stomach the actual oily pilchard contents? I sometimes look into pensioner's shopping baskets in the supermarket queue and am amazed at how different their tastes can be to we relative young'uns. Ambrosia Rice is popular, strong Yorkshire tea, tinned sardines and tubs of pease pudding to go with salty home-cooked ham...

One other tin design that remains highly un-revised is Lyles Golden Syrup. I could even imagine Edward VIII flipping open its top with a silver-plated knife. As a young child I used to stare at its detailed illustration of a (dead?) lion surrounded by flies.

Hurk said...

The Lyle's syrup tin is great.
I too used to stare at the illustration which i believe relates to some piece of famous literature, or maybe a biblical story? i'm too stupid to remember which but i do think the flies are bees.
I haven't seen a bottle of 'Daddies' brown sauce for a long time but the label used to have a little portrait of a fellow that looked exactly like my nan's brother 'uncle Arthur'and as a young kid i thought it really was him!

Boring Being said...

Tins of fish products seem to thrive on never changing their packaging - on the continent anyway. Have a look at this 'Rizzoli' can from my flickr pages;

http://tinyurl.com/yo3qxg

there's a few others in there, too. I particlularly like 'Tenorio'

http://tinyurl.com/yre6qs

John Bagnall said...

The Tenorio tin is indeed tremendous, I think Woody Woodmansey of the Spiders From Mars must've modelled his bushy glam side-whiskers on the Portugese geezer depicted. The pixie type folk on the Rizzoli take some beating also. Many thanks for your excellent link, BB!

And Hurk, you've jolted my memory of Daddies brown sauce. When did that disappear? The portrait on older bottles wasn't such a dead-ringer for a relation as it was for yourself, but in later years I saw a b+w photo of my Dad tucking into a meal with his brother and yes, I thought immediately of the jolly Daddies label "Daddy" pouring spicy sauce over his bangers...

Mister E said...

Yes, the Tate and Lyle Golden Syrup tin does indeed reference a biblical story. It's in Judges 14, and it's about Samson killing a lion and later noticing the carcass filling up with bees. A striking image, no? He made the story into a strange riddle which he later used at a wedding feast.

Natch, the 'sweetness' in the original biblical story is honey, not syrup. Even so, it's still something that resonates, somehow suggesting the benevolent might of 19th century corporate tycoons (who I like to think were a bit more responsible, humane, and connected to the community than the sort of bland, soulless corporations under whose yoke we currently suffer).

Full Tate and Lyle story about this image is on their company's history page at tateandlyle.com. Or go back to your bible!