It’s 3pm, you’re in that mid-afternoon slump and in need of a snack. What do you choose? A healthy granola bar, maybe a bog-standard banana – or a packet of corn puffs called Ffups?

“Boring packaging can suggest boring taste,” says Sam Tichnor, the 32-year-old founder of Ffups (a play on “puffs”), which launched in March as part of a wave of playful new indie food brands trying to stand out on the shelf. US label Tiny Fish Co packages its tinned seafood in cute pastel cans covered with mermaidian creatures, cereal brand Grandma Crunch has embraced comic-style fonts and cartoonish labels, while Hard Lines Coffee distinguishes its flavours via rainbow colours and a big-eyed mascot. 

Tiny Fish Co octopus with lemon & dill, $15
Tiny Fish Co octopus with lemon & dill, $15
Hard Lines Coffee Club monthy subscription, from £11 per month
Hard Lines Coffee Club monthy subscription, from £11 per month

“It helps products fly off the shelves,” says Matt Jones, co-founder of Hard Lines, who has put the mascot on coffee cups in its Cardiff store. “In a restaurant or a shop, you have the human touch to explain or sell the product,” adds Brodie Meah, co-founder of the London deli Shop Cuvée, which stocks Hard Lines. “Online it’s purely visual.” 

Cocoa Grandma Crunch, £26.48 for four
Cocoa Grandma Crunch, £26.48 for four

These fun foodstuffs are a natural evolution from the health food boom. “Every brand has decided to be ‘better for you’… so the pendulum [is swinging] back towards something that takes itself less seriously,” says Rion Harmon, co-founder of Day Job, the LA-based agency behind many indie food brands, including Ffups and Glonuts — a raw, vegan, keto-friendly doughnut maker. Its strapline is “Healthy, but who cares”. 

“Unambiguous Cinnamon Toast” Ffups, $30 for six
“Unambiguous Cinnamon Toast” Ffups, $30 for six

Freed from the shackles of worthy marketing, food is fun again. As Harmon tells me: “A Glonut might be [good for you], but it’s still a doughnut. It’s not going to save the world.” 

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