Animal crackers, the famously animal-shaped snacks of all our childhoods, hit the shelves for the first time 116 years ago. And in all that time, the art on the front of the box has been the same: four exotic animals locked behind the bars of cages, presumably at a traveling circus.
Now, however, following pressure from animal rights groups like the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the design is changing to depict a more humane situation for the creatures.
After 116 years, animal crackers are no longer behind bars as Nabisco changes the packaging. https://t.co/HQDB7dn82c https://t.co/BX1kwlkYJn— USA TODAY (@USA TODAY)1534870494.0
In Spring 2016, PETA wrote a letter to Mondelez International, the parent company of Nabisco, which read:
Given the egregious cruelty inherent in circuses that use animals and the public's swelling opposition to the exploitation of animals used for entertainment, we urge Nabisco to update its packaging in order to show animals who are free to roam in their natural habitats.
@CBSNews People can be a-holes and mock this all they want, but I, for one, think it's a positive move and I apprec… https://t.co/8qdfDQKOLQ— ADHowe ⚜️ (@ADHowe ⚜️)1534867855.0
Mondelez was surprisingly receptive to the suggestion, and got to work right away on replacing the iconic art. The new boxes, which bear the label "new look, same great taste," feature a zebra, elephant, lion, giraffe, and gorilla walking side by side through the African savannah insteaed of being cooped up in cages.
Whose idea was it to remove the animal crackers from their cages?! https://t.co/U9kI9dCHVe— The Daily Wire (@The Daily Wire)1534867956.0
Though noticeably more humane, the re-design kept the well-known color scheme and fonts of the original, which gives the new packaging a familiar feel.
Jason Levine, Mondelez's chief marketing officer for North America, issued a statement that read:
When PETA reached out about Barnum's, we saw this as another great opportunity to continue to keep this brand modern and contemporary.
Some are saying @PETA wasted time, money, and effort pressuring Nabisco to free the animals from the circus on Anim… https://t.co/HnkTmZLUIh— Daniel Schneider (@Daniel Schneider)1534858332.0
The changes to animal crackers are also meant to reflect our culture's growing disapproval of holding wild animals in captivity for entertainment. Animal Defenders International reports that "80 U.S. cities have fully or partially banned circuses with wild animals." The famous Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus was forced to close down last May due to low sales.
@USATODAY Now the doggone Lion is gonna eat the Zebra.— Dr.Darrell Scott (@Dr.Darrell Scott)1534887417.0
PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman was incredibly pleased to see the change to animal crackers packaging:
The new box for Barnum's Animals crackers perfectly reflects that our society no longer tolerates the caging and chaining of wild animals for circus shows.
@APBusiness @AP They’re no longer pictured in a cage, but still trapped in the box! What a hoax.— Brian Tuttle (@Brian Tuttle)1534858291.0
@APBusiness @AP Wow, how is that safe? I am never going to let my kids anywhere near these now. A GD uncaged lion! Smh— Michael Swenson (@Michael Swenson)1534853800.0
The times are changing, and it seems animal crackers are changing with them.
@APBusiness Thank you for doing this. It is right to show them free and able to roam in their natural habitats. WTG. 🐯🐵🦍🦏🐘🐪🐆— Kathy M Crose (@Kathy M Crose)1534866835.0