We all grew up eating animal crackers. You know the ones, they come in a red and yellow box with a little draw string that you can carry around. They sort of taste like nothing but are strangely addictive.
You could tell a lot about a kid from the way they ate those crackers. I’d nibble at their legs before working my way up to the head, while other kids would dismember them as part of some animal war before jamming all the pieces down their throat. Or maybe like you were the weirdest kid in my 2nd grade class, who ate it like cereal. He’d open the box, pour it into a bowl, open a small carton of milk and splash it all over it, then go to town.
Now, while eating your animal crackers, did you ever look at the box and feel bad about all of those animals in their cages? I mean, zoos can be pretty cruel places if they’re just capturing animals to put them on display for people to take their families on a Saturday, so it’s understandable if you do. Plus, you’d have something in common with PETA, if that was the case.
The People for Ethical Treatment of Animals’ mission is to engage in all sorts of initiatives to ensure that our furry and finned and feathered friends are being treated with kindness and respect.
Their latest one was getting on Barnum’s Animal Crackers’ case to ensure that their iconic packaging received a makeover: releasing the animals from their cages so they could roam free in the wild like nature intended.
PETA contacted Mondelez in 2016, asking that the company change its popular animal crackers brand’s packaging to depict animals outside of their cages, so children all over the world wouldn’t think imagery of locked-up animals was normal, or wouldn’t associate cookies with captivity — who knows.
The group wrote about the victory on its website:
“For more than a century, Nabisco’s Barnum’s Animals crackers have been sold in boxes that depict lions, gorillas, elephants, and other animals caged in a circus boxcar. But following discussions with PETA, in which we suggested a new design, the brand has redesigned the packaging to show animals free in nature instead of held captive in cages for human entertainment.”
“The new box for Barnum’s Animals perfectly reflects that our society no longer tolerates caging and chaining exotic animals for circus shows. 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.”
Mondelez echoed PETA’s sentiments in a statement they made to CNN:
“To continue to make the brand relevant for years to come, we felt this was the right time for the next evolution in our design, now showing the animals in a natural habitat.”
This isn’t the first time Nabisco has changed their Barnum’s crackers box design to benefit animals, either. In the past, they collaborated with fashion designer Lilly Pulitzer to come up with some pastel-colored artwork to help raise funds to save tigers. They even made an endangered species edition of the crackers to get money for the World Wildlife Fund, along with a special zoo version that secured money for the American Zoo and Aquarium association.
Reactions to the latest box design, however, are a mixed bag. There are more than a few people on the internet who applaud PETA’s persistence in “freeing” the animals from their cages on the Nabisco boxes.
Some pointed out that the decision to remove the animals from cages was a victory against circuses, a business that PETA has been fighting for a long time. In fact, PETA’s efforts forced the Ringling Bros. circus to officially shut down last year — the act had been around for over a century.
There were also plenty of people who thought that PETA’s efforts, time, and money could’ve been better utilized in other endeavors that didn’t include changing the box design for a brand of sweet crackers.
Some people jokingly feared that PETA probably still won’t be happy with the fact that the crackers are actually shaped like animals and may push for even more drastic changes to the product’s branding.
While others employed the use of sarcasm to show just what they thought of PETA’s “brave victory” against the “cruel” Nabisco animal crackers packaging team.
And if you dig deep enough into Twitter, you’ll find your fair share of people who were more than happy to tear into PETA for their cracker crusade. The insults were pretty blunt and ruthless.
I believe that’s how it all went down.