This isn’t exactly topical, but we ration our son’s chocolate intake, and as a result we’re only now coming to the end of our Easter eggs. Some of the packaging of the very last one is pictured here…
In a sense, we saved the best for last, because minions are awesome. Hard-hearted indeed is the person who hasn’t fallen for Gru’s army of fireplug-sized, banana-hued felons… but it seems that their latest caper pits them against the environment.
Any Easter egg is an appallingly inefficient way to supply chocolate: they’re fragile, and the bulk of a hollow egg is far greater than it needs to be, considering the amount of chocolate supplied. Also, they’re… well… egg-shaped. That means they don’t stack properly, so the packaging typically involves an outer layer that is a cuboid. That introduces another lot of fresh air, and a need for some kind of protective spacer to hold an egg-shaped egg in a box-shaped box. For this, vacuum-formed plastic seems to be the solution of choice. This is disappointing because a few years ago plastics seemed to be disappearing from this kind of packaging. Now they’re returning, like a bad sequel.
What packaging does is a key question here. Obviously, chocolate would be much easier to transport and keep fresh if it was moulded into a slab, but we have to bear in mind that an Easter egg is not a chocolate bar. The purpose of the product is not to deliver sugar, milk powder, cocoa butter, cocoa mass, lactose, emulsifier and flavourings in a convenient way: the purpose of an Easter egg is to dress up those ingredients in a way that makes the recipient know that you love them. It’s basically a hug, expressed through the medium of cholesterol.
People who study logistics might observe that 85mm x 205mm x 240mm is an awful lot of space for a food product of questionable nutritional value, and with a net weight of 55g… but in a sense it doesn’t matter: if the customer is willing to pay a premium that covers the increased cost of transportation and storage, plus the retailer’s increased costs due to shelf space requirements, the product is commercially viable. In effect, the movie tie-in and elaborate shelf presence of this otherwise unbranded Easter egg can be considered to be its advertising budget: the chocolate itself is undifferentiated.
This particular package is made larger, in part, by the presence of a keepsake tin, and that’s a nice touch because it’s the only part of the product that’s likely to outlive the packaging it came in. It was supplied with a collection of magnets… in a cellophane envelope. Inside the tin. Inside the plastic spacer, inside the cardboard box…
We really enjoyed playing with the little minion: it’s like Mr Potato Head, only far less disturbing. (Seriously: that toy creeps me out.) It’s a shame that so much waste had to be involved, though.
In fact, it’s more than just a shame: it’s despicable.