Animal Crackers Get Redesigned Amid PETA Push

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Animal Crackers Get Redesigned Amid PETA Push


DEERFIELD, Ill. — After more than a century behind bars, the animals on the boxes of Mondelēz International's Nabisco brand's Barnum's Animals crackers are roaming free.

The packaging redesign is in response to pressure from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The organization — which has been protesting the use of animals in circuses for more than 30 years — wrote a letter to Mondelēz in the spring of 2016 calling for a redesign, The Associated Press reported.

Barnum's Animals Crackers packaging design before.
Barnum's Animals crackers packaging design before.

"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," PETA said in its letter.

Mondelēz agreed and started working on a redesign. In the meantime, the crackers' namesake circus, Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey, folded for good in May 2017 due to slow ticket sales. The 146-year-old circus removed elephants from its shows in 2016 because of pressure from PETA and others.

Barnum's Animals Crackers in the new redesigned packaging.
Barnum's Animals crackers in the new redesigned packaging.

The redesigned boxes have hit retail shelves across the U.S., and retain the familiar red and yellow coloring and prominent "Barnum’s Animals," but instead of showing animals in cages — implying that they're traveling in boxcars for the circus — the new boxes feature a zebra, elephant, lion, giraffe and gorilla wandering side-by-side in a grassland. The outline of acacia trees can be seen in the distance, according to AP.

"When PETA reached out about Barnum's, we saw this as another great opportunity to continue to keep this brand modern and contemporary," Jason Levine, Mondelēz's chief marketing officer for North America, said in a statement.

Mondelēz is based in Illinois, which passed a statewide ban on circuses with elephants that went into effect in January. More than 80 U.S. cities have fully or partially banned circuses with wild animals, according to Animal Defenders International.

PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said she's celebrating the box redesign for the cultural change it represents.

"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," she expressed.

Nabisco has been making Barnum's Animals crackers since 1902. It has redesigned its boxes before, but only for limited-time special editions, like:

  • 1995: It offered an endangered species collection that raised money for the World Wildlife Fund.
  • 1997: It offered a zoo collection that raised money for the American Zoo and Aquarium Association.
  • 2010: It worked with designer Lilly Pulitzer on a pastel-colored box that raised money for tiger conservation.

The company didn't say how many boxes of Barnum's Animals crackers it sells each year. Canadian boxes already had a different design and aren't affected, the news outlet noted.

Headquartered in Deerfield, Mondelēz International's 2017 net revenues reached approximately $26 billion. It offers brands in 160 countries, including its global brands such as Oreo and belVita biscuits; Cadbury Dairy Milk and Milka chocolate; and Trident gum.