The red boxes of Barnum’s Animal Crackers may be iconic, but if you’ve looked closely at one lately, it probably made your stomach churn. First developed all the way back in 1902, the boxes featured animals in cages to reference the Barnum & Bailey Circus. A hundred years later, we know traveling circuses have a reputation for treating animals terribly, while many have even begun to question the lovingly built habitats of zoos. Even Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey closed in 2017 citing low ticket sales.
Now Nabisco–makers of Barnum’s Animal Crackers–has teamed up with PETA to release a new design of its cracker box, and it will make your heart feel as warm and fuzzy as when you’re watching Planet Earth. On the new box, the animals roam free–nay–the zebra, elephant, lion, giraffe, and gorilla are strutting free along the Serengeti with serious attitude and a golden-hour hue.
PETA actually flagged the box to Mondelez International, the parent company of Nabisco. Rather than shooing PETA away, the company entered a discussion with the animal rights group. PETA even submitted a new box design for consideration–taking a proactive stance on developing new branding that could work for the company. It was spiritually similar to what Mondelez ultimately went with, showing Africa’s animals midstride in the wild.
The final version, though, is really quite lovely, and an effective modernization of a brand built upon turn-of-the-century sensibilities. And of course, PETA loves it–and used the opportunity to stick it to circuses again for good measure.
“The new box for Barnum’s Animals perfectly reflects that our society no longer tolerates caging and chaining exotic animals for circus shows,” writes the organization. “PETA is celebrating this redesign just as we’ve celebrated the closure of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and an end to the use of wild animals in many other circuses.”