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Decoding the 1990's

Updated: Jun 24, 2022

Recreating the look of the 1990's was far more challenging than any other decade. Unlike the '80's, packaging from the baked brie era has largely, for some unfathomable reason, gone down the memory hole. There are numerous references to Hot Pockets but as one begins to search farther afield, the visual terrain becomes increasingly sparse. To get to grips with the look of this period, I had to delve a lot into my own memories. During the late 1990s, I became intimately acquainted with the food and beverage packaging of this period - by working the graveyard shift in a large central London supermarket as a shelf-stacker. Thanks to Richard Linklater et al, the enthusiastic laziness of being a slacker was practically a noble calling, so I sojourned in this role for several years without too much concern for my standing within society. The two central items (in the image below) coaxed many memories from my dusty internal SyQuest drive, long unused: I began to recall the many varieties of coffee that I would foist and coax into the fixtures during the wee hours: Ethiopian Sidamo, Columbian Supremo - the Kenyan blend, 'grown on the high mountain plateaus.' Incrementally, an entire horde of other products soon began to wind, upwardly, into my consciousness, becoming unexpectedly vivid mental recreations. Red rice from the Camargue. Fleur de sel from Guérande. Lamb curry with jaggery. I was cutting open a box of breadcrumbs when, over the radio, they announced that Kurt Cobain had committed suicide. Panko and Nirvana have had a tenuous mutual association ever since. Image: The Sainsbury's Archive.

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