General Foods International Coffee

Wednesday March 3rdDrinks Category

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I’m not sure if General Foods was the first to invent instant flavored “coffee beverage” mixes but I’ve always enjoyed their work.  Unfortunately, they discontinued their best flavors: Double Dutch Chocolate and Kahlua Cafe.  I had celebrated the moments of my life with those flavors all through high school and it’s a crime they’re no longer offered. 
The specimen here is Cafe Francais and the top photo is from a 1984 ad.   I think it’s a successful design because of the French flag colors and they use the stripes nicely to divide up the information:  Brand, flavor, description of contents.  And of course the Mary Tyler Moore font adds a nice touch. I don’t know what that font is called, but I love it.

The current design has a few changes.  They got rid of the stripes and decided to shorten the name to just “General Foods International”.  A photo of  the product in action has been added on the right side and the words “Instant Coffee Beverage” have changed to “Coffeehouse Beverage Mix”.  Also they make it clear  that this is from the makers of Maxwell House.
I think for the size of the container, all of this information has been included nicely. I kind of like the postage mark that reveals there’s a great new taste too.  It’s not a bad design at all but I really think it’s so cute to have the can look like a French flag and like I said, I love the older font.  The other varieties of this era were not flags as only the bottom stripe changed (I think they kind of lucked out that this happened to work out using French colors) and colored or patterned in a way that complemented the flavor.   If you’re not familiar with the other varieties I’d suggest googling  General Food International Coffees for video results and you’ll see some nice commercials for all different flavors.  It seemed like it must have been fun to capture the essence of the flavor with a bottom stripe.

General Foods International Coffees: Old or new?

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8 Comments

  1. Kevin Swope
    March 3, 2010

    Although actually it’s the Dutch flag, since the stripes are horizontal!

    I’m already feeling self-conscious about always voting for the old design. I hate to be so reactionary!

    I tend to find new designs too busy, although this one isn’t bad. The older designs tend to be more emblamatic and easier to spot in the store, but maybe if everything was like then that wouldn’t be true.

  2. Melissa Cronin
    March 3, 2010

    Its good ole Peignot typeface… a 70s classic of the French influence. My “History of Typography” course coming in handy once again!

  3. Alli
    March 6, 2010

    I’m a die-hard lover of the old design on this one! It’s the stripes. I think the irish cream had a green stripe, and the french vanilla had a creamy colored one if I’m not mistaken.

  4. Elaine
    March 13, 2010

    Old version hands down. It has a lot more character than the new one.

  5. Tasty Japan
    March 14, 2010

    The new one looks more inviting :)

  6. Melissa
    April 3, 2010

    I prefer the bolder colors of the older version. I want to pick it up, open it, and smell it. The newer version I don’t think I’d even notice on the shelf. ZzzZzz

  7. Paul Duca
    December 26, 2010

    The current version is billed as “Maxwell House International Coffees”

  8. SZA
    December 28, 2010

    I think this company did a good job redesigning a new label while still maintaining the “feel” of the original package. Even though most of the International Coffee line is weak, icky stuff, that photo of the steaming foamy coffee gets me every time!

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