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Keren McConnell’s Fruit Wrappers

March 16, 2021
by the gentle author

This is the season for oranges and lemons, so I was more than delighted when Keren McConnell kindly sent me her glorious fruit wrapper collection from the seventies to share with you. If any other readers have ephemera collections, please get in touch.

“I started collecting fruit papers when I was six years old, possibly inspired by a holiday in Spain in 1971. Most of the papers stuck in my small scrapbook were picked up while shopping for groceries with my mother at the local greengrocers in Blackheath. I think they reminded me of that holiday with their bright and graphic imagery.

I was drawn to the designs and texture and feel of the crinkly tissue paper. I also collected carrier bags and paper bags for their graphics, but this collection did not survive all our house moves.

Who knows? This book of fruit papers may have even informed my career. I became a print and graphics designer for fashion brands and retailers, sometimes using this scrapbook as reference material to inspire a T-shirt design.

As a child, particular favourites were the designs depicting animals, beautiful ladies and the smiling face on the Sicilian lemon is particularly appealing. I have no idea why the Tower of London was on a fruit paper from Spain. Perhaps the designer thought London was an exotic place, just as I had found Spain so exotic? Some of the designs seem to have been inspired by sport, such as horse racing and Formula One.

Are children today inclined to make collections like this? Mine was born out of boredom, particularly on wet Sundays when the days felt so long.”

Keren McConnell

You may also like to take a look at

John Gillman’s Bus Ticket Collection

Laurie Elks’ Bottle Label Collection

17 Responses leave one →
  1. Charlotte Browne permalink
    March 16, 2021

    What a beautiful collection and a reminder of my own childhood. I always wanted the wrapped fruit when we shopped at the greengrocer’s – it was like being given a present! The designs are real works of art.

  2. Lorraine permalink
    March 16, 2021

    I’d forgotten how fruit used to have wrappers! They seem so colourful and lovely now although I never gave them any regard back in the day. Thank you to Keren and to the Gentle Author for bringing these to the surface again. It reminds me that I have a collection of 1970s matchbooks. I’ll have to look them out to see if they surprise me as much as these wrappers did.

  3. March 16, 2021

    Wonderful. Yes, the graphic design of yesteryear can be inspiring. For me as a graphic designer, the designs from the former GDR were and still are a source of inspiration for new things. — Kids seem to collect only “likes” these days….

    https://www.designmadeingermany.de/2017/134416/
    https://www.pinterest.de/stoffn/ddr-grafik/

    Love & Peace
    ACHIM

  4. Annie S permalink
    March 16, 2021

    They are lovely – the Tower of London from Spain made me smile!
    It has reminded me that my cousin used to collect fruit labels back in the 60’s but I doubt she still has them, I should ask her.

  5. March 16, 2021

    What a marvellous collection. I had forgotten fruit wrappers existed. But why an Indian for the fruits from Beniaján, Murcia? And why did the Sicilian wrappers always carry the mention “Importé d’Italie” in French? And “Traité au diphénil” also in French. By the way, I had to check what “diphénil” was. Thank you, Karen, and thank you, dear G.A.

  6. March 16, 2021

    What a marvellous collection. The colours on the wrappers mean you just have to eat them. Not surprised that Keren became a graphic artist and designer.

  7. Jonathan Taylor permalink
    March 16, 2021

    These are beautiful. Reminding me of Christmas, the only time when Tangerines were on our table back in the 60’s and 70’s …
    Was it just in my family, or did everyone put a match to these and watch them float gracefully towards the ceiling? My dad certainly did, to my mother’s annoyance. Can’t remember what the table cloth looked like afterwards!

  8. Ann V permalink
    March 16, 2021

    What a lovely cheerful collection. It reminded me of when I was 10 or 11 and our teacher asked us to save the tangerine wrappers at Christmas to take into school when we returned after Christmas. What a pity we don’t see anything like this any more. Thank you for showing these.

  9. March 16, 2021

    Thanks for this wonderful collection — and the reminder that momentary ephemera can have a lasting impact. Fruit wrappers are especially appealing (and fragile) because they are printed on tissue. And yet they abide.

    I’ve always loved fruit crate labels. They depict a forever-sunny-optimistic world in the most
    blazing colors. As a designer, I’ve often turned to vintage graphics for inspiration, and once designed a series of needlepoint cushions prompted by fruit crates.

    I look forward to more ephemera collections — many thanks.

  10. paul loften permalink
    March 16, 2021

    A lovely collection and I seem to recall the fine tissue that they were made of . A pleasure to touch. I used to pick oranges, without wraps , for a while whilst on a kibbutz in the 70’s .
    Here is a little tip for readers, always look for the deepest colour .They are from the very top of the tree and always the sweetest.

  11. March 16, 2021

    serendipity! I posted a collection of these on my IG at designfortoday a couple of days ago. I’m in the throes of planning a book on these, as well as one on Glynn Boyd-Harte’s Sardine tin lithos. Will let you know when it’s published.

    all best wishes, Joe

  12. March 16, 2021

    Sorry for piling on. I want to be first in line for the book on sardine tin packaging.
    I was so happy to discover Design For Today, and have enjoyed many of their publications. They have been a source for amazing artists, and such unique projects.

    Spitalfields Life — and Design for Today — You rock.

    (I am so glad to live in a world where a book about sardine tin graphics is in the planning
    stages. People! — we need our enthusiasms!)

  13. Cherub permalink
    March 16, 2021

    I had forgotten that fruit used to come in these cheerful tissue wrappers. Sometimes I pine for the days when things were very seasonal and I always associate mandarins and satsumas with Christmas, also crisp McIntosh red apples with winter. If I pick up a McIntosh red the fragrance immediately transports me back to my childhood.

    People take it for granted now that things are available all year round, but fail to consider the carbon footprint involved in getting it to the table. In Switzerland, where I now live, there is still a big trend towards seasonal and locally grown and produced foods which I appreciate very much. The wild garlic (Barlauch) season is about to start, best part is you can pick it for free when out walking as it grows everywhere 🙂

  14. March 16, 2021

    Beautiful graphics you have rekindled my memories as a child from a little village in Lombardy.
    Big oranges would arrive up North from Sicily which although part of Italy was, for us Northeners, a ‘magic’ island from the South.
    I remember hearing a lovely love ‘story’ which I’m not sure that it’s a true one…. But here it goes.
    A girl from Sicily who worked in an orange packing factory wrote her name and address on the wrapping paper of the orange which was then sent to Germany.
    A young man found it, started a correspondence and eventually they got married and lived Happily ever after!
    Just the material for an Opera to be written!
    Possible title: La fanciulla dell’arancia?….
    Why not!
    Ciao

  15. Paola permalink
    March 16, 2021

    Fabulous collection and I am pleased to say that the tissue fruit wrappers are still used here in Italy. Even the boxes the fruits come in are often decorated beautifully. Well done for saving these disposable gems.

  16. John Cunningham permalink
    March 17, 2021

    Epherema can tell such a story,capturing a place and time as well as shining a light into a particular or general culture. I have collected beer mats for ove fifty years. What started as an idle pocketing of beer mats as a teenager has grown and given me a collection that tracks my travels over fifty years and also provides a display of changing advertising techniques and graphics. Long live ephemera as a window into how ordinary lives are lived.

  17. July 29, 2021

    Good Morning. I am a collector of fruit wrappers and crate labels

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