There are few things more infuriating than spending money on something and not getting what you paid for. That’s your hard earned money! And now it’s just been totally wasted. Why does this happen so often? It’s because of dishonest product packaging. We’ve all seen the examples. Something is made to look bigger than it is, fresher than it is, just overall better than what you’re actually getting.
Why do we keep falling for these awful tactics? Simple: it’s nearly impossible to resist a good deal. Our critical thinking just immediately shuts down once we realize that we can get a discount on something. Bad package design pulls you in, then immediately lets you down.
These are some of the worst examples of dishonest product packaging design found around the world. Whether it’s making something look bigger or making something look fresher, these examples of bad package design will make you feel like you got fooled by them too.
1) These Shrimp Are Shrimpier Than Usual: Very clever, seafood company. Here you are, the unsuspecting consumer, imagining that you’re getting some nice big prawns. Then you peel off this little strip and bam! You’ve been fooled. What are you supposed to do with a bunch of shrimp heads that don’t even have the rest of the shrimp attached?
2) At Least the Hot Dog Had Plenty of Space: One thing that will really make your blood boil is getting cheated when you’re hungry. You need some food, maybe a lot of food because you work hard! You walk into a store and buy a “giant” hot dog. Then you unwrap it and find this. “Prolong deliciousness?” More like “prolong rage.”
3) At Least it was only $1.89: This brownie looks like it has a story. One day at the brownie factory, the candy placement technician fell asleep and missed this one. Luckily, they caught their mistake just in time to jam a couple of candies on the top. Mission accomplished, sort of.
4) Someone turned that upside down frown upside down again: Look, when you’re buying an emoji lollipop, the least you can expect is that the people who made it will at least get the face right on it. Unfortunately, the lollipop is probably emulating the person’s face after they opened it and found this.
5) Enjoy never using this knife: If you’ve ever bought a new product (which you have), you’ve definitely dealt with this impossible to open plastic packaging. What happens when you buy a tool to finally bust through that super frustrating plastic? They wrap it in that super frustrating plastic. Maybe if you try using your teeth first it might actually work.
6) If you squint, this packaging actually is being honest: Well done, oil bottle. You make everyone think they’re getting some delicious extra virgin olive oil, but you’ve sneakily hidden the fact that this is mostly sunflower oil. Truly, this is a genius tactic. There’s not even a picture of a sunflower on the bottle!
7) Yeah, but it still tastes pretty great, eh?: When you see the name Arizona emblazoned on your giant can of peach iced tea, you’re probably expecting an American-made product. Not so, however, as Arizona iced tea is made exclusively in the great white north. Don’t worry, it’s still sugary and refreshing.
8) Speaking of refreshing…: You know what’s not delicious? Radiator coolant. That’s not coming from experience, it’s just an educated guess. Either way, who would have EVER thought that this was an appropriate design for what is essentially a can of poison? It doesn’t even look that different from all of the energy drinks you can find in a convenience store.
9) Orange you glad you know this now?: Here’s a fun fact: when you buy oranges in that red mesh, it’s actually just being used to make the oranges look more orange. So when you think you’re getting the best, most colorful and sweet oranges, you might just be buying a bag of dry, faded, thick-skinned garbage that’s also full of seeds.
10) Juice so good it defies all logic: What exactly does this mean? Is this juice container somehow more than 100% full? Is that even possible? Well it’s either that or the packaging is just peddling a blatant lie, and a company would never do that to the general public, right?
11) This is what happens when departments don’t communicate: When you run a company that is making a product, it’s best to know that all of your individual departments are talking to each other and making sure they are getting all of their information right. Most of all, it’s important to have someone whose job is to just double check things.
12) What exactly do they mean by ‘cherry’ then?: Having fruit salad was only fun when you got that one cherry in your bowl. Then the fruit companies decided that they should load their salads up with cherries! What great news! Unfortunately, they seem to have forgotten what a cherry is. They’re the little round red things, remember?
13) At least you got something in your soup: Clearly, the soup company was running low on ingredients the day they packaged this up. What other excuse could there be for such a blatant disregard for the lack of actual food in this soup? If you wanted a cup of broth with just the barest hints of nutrition, you got it!
14) Good thing you just bought a screwdriver: Now this just seems mean. There’s bad package design, and then there’s putting people through an existential crisis. How can you get the screwdriver free without another screwdriver? But another screwdriver? Then you have the same problem, and you have to buy another screwdriver… This could go on forever.
15) Now that is just plain evil: Somebody was trying to save some pennies at the ham factory. They probably did, but they did so at the cost of customer satisfaction. What kind of corporate trickery is this? Forget bad loans from banks and golden parachutes, the new issue is incomplete ham slices.
16) The perfect snack for bread lovers: Who needs meat and cheese when you can just have extra bread, right? Bread is filling, it’s delicious, and it’s full of carbs. Who doesn’t love carbs? Although it may not be the best when you’re expecting a steaming pocket of steak and cheese.
17) This company deserves a good ribbing for this: Not only is this rack of ribs a good sight shorter than what is promised by the dishonest product packaging, but it also appears to be far less appetizing. If the product is going to end up looking this bad, the least they could do is give you more of it, right?
18) Doubling up on protection, but also disappointment: Sure, there may be a number of reasons for this deceptive amount of cardboard. Keeping the product safe during shipping? Okay, that’s a pretty good reason. Still, though, it seems awfully disingenuous to package a tube of lip balm in a bigger box just for safety’s sake.
19) Never let curiosity get the best of you when it comes to food: These tacos might have tasted okay (though it doesn’t look like they were outstanding), but the fact that they look nothing like they do on the box is pretty disappointing. Although you might have never known if you hadn’t opened Pandora’s tortilla.
20) Dora? Is that you?: If the objective of this frozen treat was to traumatize the kid eating it, then I think the company hit the nail right on the head. Although, it’s probably never too early to start teaching kids about the dangers of heightened expectations. At the very least, they won’t ever want to watch Dora the Explorer ever again.
21) Maybe this wasn’t the best design for this package?: What would you do if you were a rope company and you wanted to instill confidence in your consumers? If you want them to know that your rope is the strongest, you’d probably show someone using it to climb a mountain. What if it can’t be used for that? Well, that’s what disclaimers are for.
22) This toaster clearly came from the dark side: How else would you explain the fact that it’s shaped like Darth Vader’s helmet and is also very disappointing? All this person wanted was some Star Wars themed toast. Is that too much to ask for? Apparently, in this galaxy, it is.
23) Math is not a prerequisite for working at Campbell’s: This is just ridiculous, isn’t it? Didn’t they think you’d notice? Either someone in the marketing department at the famous soup company is not too bright or they just got a huge raise. Although whether that raise was 30 or 40%, it was exactly the same.
24) The pizza lied to me!: If you love pepperoni pizza, then the number of pepperoni matters to you. When you see that kind of pepperoni density on your pizza, you think “Jackpot!” Then you pull it out of the package and see this. Not only is it a lie, but the pepperoni is frozen on there so you can’t even redistribute them.