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Philip Marriage’s Date Box Labels

March 17, 2021
by the gentle author

Philip Marriage sent me his fascinating collection of date box labels with their ingenious typography and curious array of Orientalist fantasies. How startled I was to recognise one design in particular from my own childhood and recall how these boxes magically transformed into model ships once the dates were eaten.

“Having spent a lifetime in graphic design I have collected far too much stuff that has attracted my eye and even now cannot quite bring myself to throw away. I have always been drawn to items with distinctive typography or design – particularly those which had a style all of their own, like funfair decoration, firework labels and these date box labels.

As a youngster I only remember dates, like tangerines, as a special treat at Christmas. These labels were of their time, replaced nowadays by more sophisticated versions with bar codes and sell-by dates but somehow lacking the charm of these unaffected designs from the seventies and eighties.”

Philip Marriage



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10 Responses leave one →
  1. March 17, 2021

    Awesome. Yes, the graphic design of past times can be inspiring. Today’s labels with QR codes and other “important” information seem sterile in comparison. For me as a graphic designer, the designs from the former GDR were and are a source of inspiration for new things. — Children today only seem to collect “likes”….

    Love & Peace

  2. Jill Wilson permalink
    March 17, 2021

    Wow – what fabulous colours and designs!

    The only brand name I recognise is Eat Me (although we never did… it was ‘trad’ to have dates at Christmas but no one was keen on actually eating them!)

  3. Annie Green permalink
    March 17, 2021

    Eat-Me dates. Merry Christmas from the 60s and 70s. I did, too. Delicious.

  4. Paola permalink
    March 17, 2021

    Great collection. I remember the ‘JL’ and ‘Eat Me’ boxes. Times gone by…..

  5. March 17, 2021

    Magnificent. I remember the ‘eat me’ one – although I never heeded them advice when I was a kid. Rectified now, happily.

  6. Pauline Taylor permalink
    March 17, 2021

    I agree with Achim and I kook at these with my graphic designer eyes, they are lovely. just lovely, and they bring back very happy memories of my mother and a friend who delivered goodies at Christmas. in the 50’s. He told me many years later that my mother always knew exactly what she wanted as regards the fruit and veg that he delivered from his parents’ business and one thing he particularly remembered was that he had to bring Eat Me dates, no others would do !! They came with a little fork in the box with which you stabbed the one you chose to eat.

  7. March 17, 2021

    I have a collection of tissue fruit wrappers for the same reasons. At least they take up very little space.

  8. Robert Parsons permalink
    March 17, 2021

    Remember many of the date packages as my Father had them and Turkish delight as his Xmas present ? and visited Tunisia many years ago to see an Oasis that harvested these dates.Wonderful memories.

  9. Cherub permalink
    March 19, 2021

    The “Eat Me” dates box always make me smile because it was like a tradition that your mum would buy them every Christmas, but they’d sit there uneaten. The only person in our family who’d touch them was my much older brother who’d been in the Royal Navy and had been stationed in Bahrain and out in the Persian Gulf for a time – I think his travels made him a bit more cosmopolitan than the rest of us ?
    I’m pleased to say I’ve grown to love dates as an adult, had some this morning with Greek yoghurt.

  10. Rosie Barker permalink
    March 22, 2021

    Just to sat have always loved the warmth of date box designs – and the vivacity of fruit wrappers. Good to see them highlighted

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