Dave Grager wrote a thesis on the evolution of the humble candy bar wrapper called: A Century of Candy Bars: An Analysis of Wrapper Design.
The purpose of this analysis was to gain a broad understanding of the design process of packaging in the confections (specifically candy bar) category. The aim was to, first, take an historical look at the development of the product category. Then, through the study of graphic design trends related to the product, understand what sociocultural, technical, and manufacturing events triggered such trends.
The findings present a clear picture of an industry that relies heavily upon packaging as the main sales tool for reaching consumers. Because of the impulse-purchase, which the industry accounts for almost all of its sales, the package must communicate on its own merits – often without supporting media. Therefore, the design of such wrappers can be as important, if not more so, than the actual product.
The nature of the product – the fact that it is a sweet and historically given as a reward or act of affection – plays another important factor in regard to brand identity and management, and the necessity to keep brands (packaging) culturally relevant.
The thesis is in PDF format and is a good 75 pages long with full color illustrations. The only drawback to reading it is that you’ll probably want to go out and buy a couple of candy bars when you’re done.
Via Boing Boing.