New Quaker Oats

Jackie Frant's picture

Yesterday, I went to my local supermarket to pick up more Instant Quaker Oatmeal for my mother-in-law. (The only thing she eats anymore, god bless her, at 92.)

At first I couldn't find her beloved Peaches & Cream - and then I did, looking like a box of elbow macaroni.

I was wondering what you thought about this. It isn't a "design" question - I felt it more appropriate in general discussion, as hopefully, none of us designed this.

The one on the left was the package they have been using for years, nicely balanced, well thought out - fun with type...
the one on the right is there new and improved - or as they say, "New Look, Same Great Taste."

I don't want to influence you - but am I the only one that thinks they hired a kid out of school who had to prove he was worth the salary they were giving him?

I'd love to hear your opinions. Honest.

P.S. I know that Quaker Oats was having some problems and the US government made them change some of the claims on their packaging. That might have been the excuse for a new design, but I would have liked to see a design first.

blank's picture

Not that the old one was exactly a classic, but yeah, it’s a change for the worse.

Ricardo Cordoba's picture

I feel like some Quaker products get their packaging changed every other month! Their breakfast cereals, for example.

For a while, this product's box was changing faster than you could say "redesign"...

dezcom's picture

It is a shame when you go to the store and look for that comfy old familiar look that you have trusted for decades only to be shocked out of your comfort zone to find a "NEW" look for no reason other than some marketing company has sold a worthless "Brand Refresh" to a bozo suit. If the product hasn't changed and the market has package recognition going, why change the package?


pattyfab's picture

The Altoids redesign is awful too - instead of the nice hand-lettered look they switched to... wait for it... ROTIS SEMI SERIF!!! The horror!

begsini's picture

i don't know if it's a great redesign, but i'm a little confused by your question about
a kid just out of school with something to prove.

there are at least 100 people between a kid just out of school and the decision to
redesign the quaker oats packaging.

Jackie Frant's picture


In NY when I owned a typeshop and some pretty rotten designs came through - the old pros would laugh and say, it looks like someone who just came out of art school. The joke was that so many do graduate from art school and think they are suppose to be art directors right away, instead of learning more in a professional environment. (My own stepson was like that too.) What I was saying is that someone in the company has to justify the salary -- or what happened in publishing, when they got rid of the 6-figure art director and switched to someone that barely was wet behind the ears... I hope that makes sense -- it's just the old NY Typographer in me rambling on....

david h's picture

> The one on the left was the package they have been using for years, nicely balanced, well thought out - fun with type...

Study it again. See the background; shadows; colors; emphasis ; size of the logo....

Where's the balance with the old one?

canderson's picture

The new design emphasizes the cream; the background is clean and white and the pitcher is fully in view. They reduced the size of "Peaches and Cream" but also seem to have reduced the size of "ARTIFICIALLY FLAVORED". The color blue now occupies space at the top and bottom of the package, which helps remind me of the round blue oatmeal containers. Not terrible, although in the picture, "Peaches and Cream" seems a bit harder to read.

canderson's picture

Here'a a really old design that I kinda like...

Jackie Frant's picture

so do I canderson - it has "style..." ty

Koppa's picture

Alas, a grocery post! Growing up in the family grocery store, stocking boxes of Apple Jacks, Cocoa Puffs, and Sugar Smacks at age ten, I was fortunate to get weekly, intimate exposure to package design. Some I loved, others I hated. My brother and I would sit together in an aisle, on milk crates, and every once in a while pose a "which is cooler?" question. Liquid Plumr or Drano? Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines? Speas or Tree Top? Hi-C or Haiwaiian Punch?

Not many things in the grocery store are more classic than that Quaker Oats cylinder. It breaks my heart every time a brand chooses to redesign its packaging for the sake of "updating." Yes, I love technology (but not as much as you, you see), but thank God for Quisp. I think it's the only kid's cereal cartoon character that hasn't been destroyed with Illustrator gradients.

As for the new Quaker packaging, fine. Go ahead and ruin a good thing. That's about all I can say anymore. I'm tired of seeing it happen. Creamette, Mountain Dew, Oxydol... But if I could have my way, I think it would make much more sense to model the instant oatmeal packaging after the classic cylinder, something more like this one:

The bottom line is I'm sick to death of drop shadows, gradients, and outer glows, and I crave flat colors and hard lines. It's an opinion, I suppose, but I often wonder how much package updating is done only because it has become so easy to do it, and student-just-out-of-school or no student-just-out-of-school, 21st century designers love their digital effects.

oneelectricfairy's picture

I think both the packages, new and old, are awful.

And I'm a designer just out of school. I agree with Koppa, the old red, blue, and gold with a prominant picture of the Quaker Oat man is the best.

aluminum's picture

if it ain't broke...

Ricardo Cordoba's picture

Thanks for that box of Quisp, Koppa! :-)

dberlow's picture


At 92, she probably shouldn't be too concerned about package design, when... there are real reaches, and real cream that might be better for her.


Jackie Frant's picture

David -- are you peeking in when I prepare her oatmeal every morning? In the need to make sure she has calories -- her oatmeal is supplemented with cream and real fruit. She is happier and it is much healthier.

Meanwhile, I did hear back from Quaker, they wrote:

We're sorry you don't like the look of our new packaging. We have updated our package graphics for uniformity and to make it easier for consumers to identify Quaker products.

Thanks for sharing your comments with us, Jackie; we'll be sure to forward them to our packaging team.


I feel like such a little troublemaker - but I was really in a state of shock in the supermarket the other day... LOL

Ch's picture

what's so great about the old one ? they're both rather ugly in my view.
just goes to show...

Jackie Frant's picture

If you are talking about the last Peaches & Cream then -- nothing's great - just that why make it worse, or rather so bland?

If you are talking about the old, original one - what is great about that is the brand recognition -- right down to being the first company to personalize their "logo" by giving the guy a name. I also have a feeling, that quick cooking white oats was probably healthier back then too!

Vladimir Tamari's picture

At least they did not use the company logo, designed by Saul Bass no less. It is very well done, but would grandma wish to face that first thing in the morning?

(Source: Wikipedia entry on Quaker Oats)

Koppa's picture

> the company logo

Egad. I think I'm gonna puke. What is it?...a freaking video game?

Please. World. Stop.

Ch's picture

yes, i meant the first peaches & cream example on the left - not particularly appetizing. in fact the new one is a bit less of an assault.

the antique one posted by canderson is actually more inviting.
maybe they should go more retro. retro updated.

the classic two tone (as posted by koppa) is quite strong. i agree with him about the glut of gradations and shadows. this trend in designers getting excited about new (soon to be old) filters until you see them everywhere is fascinating and at times hilarious.

i think with food products the trick is color, texture, and a hint of ornament,
just like a well dressed plate of food.

Nick Shinn's picture

I don't think there are any digital effects here that couldn't have been done with an airbrush and filmstripping, seventy-five years ago.

Ch's picture

no argument there. but it's precisely because digital filters make effects so easy that they suddenly proliferate where not needed.

Vladimir Tamari's picture

>>What is it?...a freaking video game?Please. World. Stop.
Its Darth Quaker. It seems the logo was made in 1971. No danger of its ending up on the packages, or it would have by now. On the other hand we aint seen nothin yet - wait for holographic (or animated?) 3D packaging!

Nick Shinn's picture

it’s precisely because digital filters make effects so easy that they suddenly proliferate where not needed.

But surely they are a legitimate and integral part of, for instance, the "Peaches & Cream" lettering on the left package?
Without the dropshadow, the light weight white-on-orange type would not stand out strongly, as indeed is the case with those words on the new package, where they have been given less importance, relative to the brand name, than before.

I suspect that both designs are representative of an evolving concept of brand packaging at different points in time, going from something which spells out OATMEAL and an exciting flavor, Peaches & Cream, in big jazzy letters, to something cool and discreet that doesn't need to shout what is an established flavor, and focuses on the wordmark Quaker and the picture of the product. The new corporate-technical look also has a nutraceutical vibe; I can't see what else is on the package, but I bet there's something about how healthy oatmeal is.

Jackie Frant's picture

Sorry Nick, the US Federal government won their lawsuit - so much of what Quaker wrote the gov't asked them to remove... and Quaker lost the decision in the courtroom.

and I love ... Darth Quaker! (not the logo just the name -- but I returned to the Dark Side...)

Ch's picture

yes nick, you are right. very reasonably put.

i didn't really analyze this packaging very carefully,
just commenting on the filters trend i've noticed ever since the desktop revolution.

neither of these packages scream "buy me, eat me, digest me, you'll love me" to me, but i actually think the new one is a bit more appetizing. just a bit.

and actually i do recall a brief period when darth quaker was on the packages.
i love my oatmeal.

BrooklynRob's picture

In my opinion they are both ugly but the new one is better: simpler, cleaner, more of a hierarchy.
The packaging for American mass-market grocery items from big companies is mostly horrendous -- busy, jumbled, too many elements, Photoshop effects, everything is beveled, drop shadowed -- oy.
Organization, clarity, cleanliness, tranquility, are completely missing, but aren't these closer to what we are seeking in an eating experience?

emax's picture

I have the good fortune of living near a Quaker factory, so not only do I get to smell delicious scents on my way to work, I also get watched Big Brother style by Darth Quaker.

It's a little unnerving...

does anyone else think thank photoshopped steam is a little weird?

Koppa's picture

I'll give you that the new Quaker instant oatmeal with artificial peaches and cream (good for you?) package is easier to read and understand than the old(er) one. For that reason it is better. But back to my preference for less effects (be they digital or old school) on food packaging...let's take a look at the competition.

McCann's is the package I want to see in my cupboard, and it is, by the way, a fantastic product (if you can stand waiting 30 minutes for your oatmeal).

russellm's picture

I think that having lasted until 92, mother-in-law should eat what ever the heck she feels like.

& I like package on the right.


Koppa's picture

mother-in-law should eat what ever the heck she feels like.

Please don't suggest that I want to change mother-in-law's diet. Or your diet, for that matter. The choice is hers (and yours). But keep in mind, as proverbed, we are what we eat. Quite literally, actually. It's pure science.

And differences of opinion about package design are subjective and healthy.

Ferg's picture

Here's a blast from the past...Mr Quaker emerging from a flower.

"Dad...where do babies come from?"

"Why son, they emerge from flowers...look at that picture of mr Quaker..."

"But Dad...he's full grown..."

"Why sure he is son...he eats up all his oats!"

russellm's picture

Kopa :o)

My comment directed at Mr. Berlow, who suggests that because a person is 92, they should have other people making dietary choices for them. At that age, there could be reasons for that, but not on the strength of age alone. ...Sorry for the confusion. And my preference was for the package on the right in post #1 o-this thread. I love the McCann's can.


James Arboghast's picture

I think the new package design (on the right) is much better than the previous one. It's more effective from the standpoint of clarity. The new design emphasizes cream and creamy goodness, nutrition. The AD seems to have amplified the corporate semantic with rationalised use of blue.

It's hard to tell much more with the picture supplied by Jackie. The details aren't sufficiently clear.

One thing I'm really certain of tho, some of the people on this thread aren't so much concerned about package design as they are reluctant to accept change.

@Koppa: But keep in mind, as proverbed, we are what we eat. Quite literally, actually. It’s pure science.

That's a simplistic load of nonsense, transparently unscientific and not true at all. Our bodies manufacture what they need from the food we ingest. While it's true an impoverished diet makes people less than healthy, we are much more than just what we eat. We are walking bio-chemical factories. Some of what we don't eat our bodies manufacture. The old proverb "we are what we eat" has a basic truth to it, but technically it's not accurate. In this day and age it has the credence of and old wive's tale.

j a m e s

cuttlefish's picture

What are the priorities in a package design?
To inform the consumer of what is in the box?
To tell the consumer who made the stuff in the box?
To protect and contain the product?

All of these are necessary, of course, but it seems that brand identification has taken precedence over product identification with the new design. The only text smaller than the "INSTANT OATMEAL" line is the one that says "ARTIFICIALLY FLAVORED". It does allow more space to display the product photo without an intersecting orange rectangle, but without close inspection it could be any kind of mush.

There are reasonable arguments on either side regarding promoting brand over product, but Quaker is such a well recognized brand, especially in the context of oatmeal, that the logo speaks for its self, and it doesn't need to be spelled out in bold letters larger than anything else on the box. The new design tells me the opposite. There is no question that this is a Quaker product, but is it oatmeal?

Jackie Frant's picture

It's Instant Oatmeal LOL

I feel that if a company is going to take the time and money to redesign a product - that is what they should do. I feel their new design is borrowed from the Pasta Packaging shelves of my local supermarket.

And at 92, if Helen wants her instant oatmeal - then by golly, that's what she'll get. It's about the only thing she still enjoys eating. I have learned that as you get older your taste buds die - and you are left with just the taste buds that taste "sweet" and that is a very good word to describe Peaches and Cream. You do not have to add any sugar to it...

Koppa's picture

(This has nothing to do with type...this is an anything-goes general discussion, I hope!)


That’s a simplistic load of nonsense, transparently unscientific and not true at all.

I understand that our bodies are complex, and I am impressed with your explanation. But, simplistic as that old proverb may be, it holds true for me. Our bodies take what they need from what we put into them, be it through eating, drinking, breathing, or by needles. Without scientific evidence to back it up, I'm willing to believe that good, wholesome inputs are the preferred building blocks for our bodies, and that artificial ingredients, chemicals, and corn corn corn cause unnecessary stress on our bodies. Can the ol' bod handle it? Sure. Would it rather not? Probably.

(This has a little bit to do with type)

I might be one who comes off as resistant to change, but not so fast... I don't care for change for the sake of change, and I don't see all change as progress. I am more interested in timelessness, and I get bummed out when I see what I thought was a timeless piece of design tossed out the window in favor of today's cutting-edge style. Change for the better, on the other hand...that is something I like very much.

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