Belarusian Chocolate Design with Cyrillic Blackletter

flooce's picture

I just wanted to share this with you. I am not sure how much this resembles a Blackletter influence, but I found the overall minimalistic and nostalgic design great. Often a contradiction – I find – and here these ideas work in harmony.

I personally loved the package, hope this is interesting to some.

It is called “Любимая Аленка” produced by Kommunarka. It is a holiday special design, the girl resembles one of the helpers of Father Frost, the Russian Santa Claus.

Andreas Stötzner's picture

This is simply wonderful.

jonasgun's picture

I think it means "Beloved Alyonka", Alyonka being nickname for Elena.
Otherwise I think it would have been "любимый шоколад Аленки", Аленка being in genitive and любимый in masculine, as the chocolate.

The Russian "ë" is normally written only as "e", for some reason.

Great picture anyway!

Nick Shinn's picture

Is the product name embossed, or is the effect faux?

apankrat's picture

This is a knock-off of a famous chocolate bar from Soviet times called simply Алёнка (which is a girl's name, diminutive form derived from Elena -> Lena -> Alena -> Alenka).

The red seal says "Red October", which is the name of the chocolate factory. It is still operational and back in gold communist days it was easily identifiable by a very strong vanilla smell that drifted in the air around it. You would drive toward the airport outside of Moscow and would literally smell the factory several blocks away.

The smallcaps say "Milk Chocolate".

flooce's picture

@ Nick:
It is truely embossed.

@ Apankrat
The posted design is the holiday special, normally it looks like
the version on the Kommunarka website, which I find less
impressive, but still nice. The company is the biggest Belarusian
chocolate producer. Given that for many in Belarus the Soviet
Union as a “Golden Age” is the point of reference for a national
identity, it does not surprise me that a simple consumer good
would jump on the same wagon to evoke positive feelings.

apankrat's picture

Oh, they now replicated all food brands from the Soviet times, and even invented some. Nostalgia is too strong of feeling not to be taking an advantage of for sales purposes :)

Michel Boyer's picture

According to this Wiki on Krasny Oktyabr, the production of Alenka never stopped.

As for Kommunarka's Lyubimaya Alyonka, their standard packaging seems to have the same lettering as the one on the holiday special.

5star's picture

Fascinating stuff! I'm diggin' the first and last images, especially the first one. The rhythmic pattern of the 'scarf' strongly resembles rose windows, which is in its simplest form a Roman oculus or in early Christian and Byzantine architecture a circular oculi. In other definition the oculus pattern is a pattern of all seeing eyes. Hence the strong relationship with the child's own eyes!

The packaging is obviously Christian propaganda

Awesome lettering too.

Andreas Stötzner's picture

The packaging is obviously Christian propaganda

For me this is not obvious.
Circular ornamental patterns can be found in various cultures and religions.

Michel Boyer's picture

What I see in the first image is ice crystals (snow). They are extremely varied in shape, and fascinating.

Michel Boyer's picture

In fact, those circular shapes must rather be an artistic interpretation of a snow flake. Ice crystals may look like this:

Those crystals above are taken from The physics of snow crystals, Kenneth G Libbrecht, 2005, Rep. Prog. Phys. 68 855 (pdf, 2.5 MB). Crystal (a) is 1.4mm from tip to tip, crystal (c) is 3mm from tip to tip. A snow flake contains a lot of crystals.

5star's picture

Beautiful ice crystals! But, I'm further convinced of the religious connotations as seen the number of spokes of the rosettes 12, and the background purity of white, not mention that the blackletter script speaks to the antiquities of biblical manuscripts, and all being promoted by the innocence of a child.


flooce's picture

After some research I think you are all right.

Firstly the holiday season special design is supposed to represent Снегурочка/Snegurochka - the Snow Maiden. So this is just traditional folklore. The shape of the ornament is most likely supposed to be a traditional russian headwear called кокошник/Kokoshnik, as one can see it here on the Russian or English Wikipedia page

There are plenty of interpretations of Snegurochka wearing such a hat:
Снегурочка кокошник on

So mainly it is just folklore and most likely does not really have an distinct ideological flavor to Russians!

As the Snow Maiden is one of the main New Year/Christmas/Winter figures in folklore the design elements are probably supposed to evoke mainly the association with snow crystals. However the ambiguity might or may not be intentional, one can not say. There is an Orthodox Christian element in the design as well. This is due to the Kokoshnik. As the headpiece is inspired by an architectural element of Russian churches from the 16th and 17th century, which even has the same name:

Talking about propaganda is probably way too strong, as it is just culturally embedded knowledge which of course has impact on belief-systems, but to somebody in a mainstream culture it is perceived as neutral! Therefore the designer might have just made use of folklore for the sake of nostalgia, as for the mainstream there probably is no ideological flavor to it. One can only speculate, if the choice to draw on folklore with Christian roots was a conscious choice or not.

Btw, this is how the back looks like:

It reads on the back that it is available in NY - Brooklyn at 242 47th Street, 11220 NY. Tastes a bit like a mix between general European backing chocolate and milk chocolate. I posted the NY address just if somebody were interested in a very out of the ordinary way. ;)

Andreas Stötzner's picture

This is a quite heavy load of symbolism placed on one bar of chocolate.

The typical snowflake is six-fold. The ornaments may have more to do with traditional Russian embroidery and lace patterns. Of course, the colouring evokes a winter feeling.
The particular type style has nothing to do with “antiquities of biblical manuscripts” of the region.

Eastern European countries are very fond of their traditional ornamentics. I find the design of the upcoming Euro 2012 remarkable too.

JanekZ's picture

here Paper Cut-out, Вытынанка (ru), wycinanka (pl)

Michel Boyer's picture

As the headpiece is inspired by an architectural element of Russian churches

The description in the Wiki in English "Kokoshnik shares its name with the traditional Russian head-dress worn by women and girls" may be ambiguous. In French it is clearly the other way around, where the traditional head dress predates the architectural design. Google for images using only the word кокошник (do not add for whom contrary to what flooce suggests above) and what you will see is not churhes. Here is one of them (just to add some nice picture)

But maybe that does not quite qualify. The first one given by flooce's link is from the nice site Кокошник для Снегурочки (Kokoshnik for Snegurochka) that shows you how to make one.

Andreas Stötzner's picture

I want such a chocolate hat!

Alas, I’m not a girl…

Theunis de Jong's picture

Having to choose between Angelina Jolie and her cholocate hat ... hmmm yummie.

That first photo is also mouth-watering. (Though I can hardly read that Cyrillic blackletter, the "chokolad" underneath says it all.)

hrant's picture

The problem is what's typically inside...
When I eat Russian chocolate I feel as though I'm missing
out on the nostalgia that would make it actually taste good. :-/


flooce's picture

Since the resonance was higher than expected and some like the photography, a remodeled version:

@Michael Boyer
I am by no way an expert on that subject. That is why I cite Wikipedia and Google-images. It may very well be that the hat and therefore the folklore predates the religious architecture. By now the relationship is established in both ways anyhow.

Thank you Andreas for your contribution, this adds to the meanings of the head ornament! Would you want to own such a hat? :) Do you think they are hard to get (or make)?

I would love to understand, I just don’t comprehend the meaning. :/ It doesn’t taste as good as it looks or unwrapping destroys nostalgia?

Té Rowan's picture

I think that Hrant just isn't ostalgic at all.

flooce's picture

Maybe I understood better, if I knew more about Armenian history, or maybe it is not related to that at all.

hrant's picture

Nostalgia makes people think something is better than it really is.
And most people are nostalgic for their childhood, no matter what it
was like.* I myself have trouble being nostalgic about my own life;
so, unlike certain Japanese people who organize nostalgia festivals
for the American 50s**, I can't for the life of me derive any pleasure
from Russian chocolate***. More on-topic: this packaging would work
well for the domestic market; however if they want to break into the
Western market they would do better to pretend to be Modernists.

* I theorize that this is essentially why
people who have a messed-up childhood
so often have a messed-up adulthood.

** Probably because they have a mental block
concerning their own post-WWII period, when
they disowned their vaunted, historic honor in
exchange for a few hundred thousand lives.

*** Even though I usually adore Russian things,
including things most Russians no longer adore.

> Armenian history

Actually, if I had grown up in Armenia proper (which however
is the case with less than 40% of our global population, due to
the Armenian Genocide) at my age I would probably have the
requisite nostalgia, since during my childhood Armenia was
a Soviet Republic.


hrant's picture

> in exchange for a few hundred thousand lives.

Actually it was probably -in part- worse than that:
Japan's leaders wanted to save their own skins.


5star's picture

Awesome! This packaging just gets more interesting as I dig deeper.

Firstly, that head dress is definitely traditional - known as a Diadem - I doubt very much snowflake patterns would be used, simply because it diminish tradition.

Secondly, the pagan religious pattern that that would most likely be is indeed a rosette .

Religious to the max - pagan religion at that - bonus!

If I'm not mistaken there is a rosette in Notre Dame that celebrates the zodiac. I fact there are lots of religious 'unity' themes used in traditional ancient rosettes.

None more pure as shown on that packaging :)

And if I'm not mistaken there's a deep connection between ancient Russia and Byzantium art which was adopted by the ruling class of churches alike.

Interesting link: - The Relations between Byzantium and Russia (11th-15th Century)

And there's something even more intriguing going on in that graphic with its traditional religious associations, but I'm first going to check my facts...

Chocolate, yummy yum yum!!

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