The manufacturers of Barnum’s Animal crackers, which have delighted children for decades, has redesigned its iconic packaging after falling to pressure applied by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The box that will be retired depicts animals behind bars on a red and yellow circus wagon of the sort that used to visit American cities. In a letter to Mondelez International, the manufacturer of the animal crackers, PETA wrote a letter in 2016 that stated: “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.” 

For many years, PETA has campaigned against the use of animals in circuses and other forms of entertainment. Mondelez succumbed to PETA’s demand and began working on a redesign in 2016. The colorful yellow and red boxes are now found on American grocery shelves, featuring the prominent “Barnum’s Animals” lettering. The new design shows an elephant, giraffe, gorilla, and zebra wandering on a verdant grassland. In the distance, the outline of trees on the savannah can be seen.


PETA executive vice president Tracy Reiman said that the change reflects that Americans no longer tolerate the caging and restraining of wild animals by circuses. In a statement, Mondelez chief marketing officer Jason Levine said that the company saw the pressure from PETA as “another great opportunity to continue to keep this brand modern and contemporary.” Mondelez is based in Illinois, which passed a statewide ban on circuses with elephants that went into effect in January. More than 80 US cities have fully or partially banned circuses with wild animals, according to Animal Defenders International.

Nabisco, a Mondelez subsidiary, has been baking Barnum’s Animals crackers since 1902. While the company has redesigned its packaging in the past, it was done only in special editions. For example, it offered an endangered species collection in 1995 that raised money for the World Wildlife Fund, and later offered a zoo collection that raised money for the American Zoo and Aquarium Association.Designer Lilly Pulitzer came up with a pastel-colored box in 2010 that raised money for tiger conservation.

The animal crackers’ namesake circus — Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey — went out of business in 2017, largely because of pressure to remove elephants from its shows. It had been in business for 146 years. 




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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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