Spaceman candy cigarettes are a familiarity with anyone from my generation. I’m not actually sure who originally came out with them, but my database shows that a company named Bonza was manufacturing them in the 1970s and 1980s (They also made Wheelies candy cigarettes and fruit sticks).
Smoking of course was still considered glamorous and sophisticated back in the day, and not only was there Spaceman -but also Riviera’s “Fags” candy cigarettes (which were actually Australian in origin, I posted on them here in the early days of this blog).
But now both products have been dumbed down for the oh-so-easily-offended PC generation.
First to go were the red tips, so that they no longer look lit and therefore, apparently somehow less like cigarettes – supposedly discouraging children from thinking smoking is a cool. I guess if you really want to discourage them then you don’t market the product at all. Problem solved! This is the usual reverse logic we have come to expect. “It is odd that I can no longer go to the dairy and buy a packet of cigarette lollies, but could easily go and buy a packet of cigarettes. If there really is a problem with cigarette lollies, why not put a health warning on the side of the Spaceman box about the dangers of pretending to smoke?” says Joanne Black, who elucidates on the topic in a funny and cutting article here.
Next they decided to stop calling them cigarettes and instead marketed them as “candy sticks”.
disgruntled Spaceman punter with Carousel’s revised design
Then a few years back around 2007, people noticed to their dismay that the quirky original design of the package had disappeared, around the same time that Carousel purchased the brand (Carousel have been around since the 1970s that I’m aware of , and are most famous for their product Fairy Mushrooms, one of my all-time favorites).
These were brought over for me by a friend this week to show me that the packaging has now recently reverted back to the original. I wonder why they decided to reverse that decision, possibly because there’s been a small revival by a merchandising like Mr. Vintage T shirts? Or maybe because of comments like this: ” The redesign is just appalling. It looks like those crapcore late-90s CGI kids cartoons. Fact.”
Amazingly somebody wrote to Carousel and actually got an explanation directly from them as follows:
“Thanks for your Email. When we purchased the business late last year, the product was being hand packed and the tuck in cartons presented food safety issues (Ed note: translates to “paper cuts”). We commissioned a custom built machine to automate the packing process and change the cartons so they had glued ends. As this process alone required regeneration of the packaging we took the opportunity to update the graphics. I hope this helps.”
Not really because it doesn’t explain why they decided to dump off a perfectly good classic design. You know some tool in a marketing meeting who fancied themselves an expert, sat there and said “we need to get rid of this Buck Rogers shit and bring it up to date…” Bad move, because sadly “up-to-date” for the general population is synonymous with “1996”.
Anyway all is well that ends well; the original graphics are back on the pack and if it’s any consolation I can testify that they taste just as horrible as they did back in the 1970s, sort of like sweet cardboard. At least that hasn’t changed!
Addendum, early Aug 2013: One of my readers, Owain Morris, one of New Zealand’s top toy and card collectors, kindly sent in these images of two versions of the re-design post-Carousel. He says he nabbed these in Christchurch pre Feb 2011 quake.
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