Design Dilemma: How Manly Does Your Food Need To Look?

It's not that you are what you eat in the literal sense, so much as what's revealed by the choices behind what you consume. And while appearances may count for a lot, when it comes to choosing basic food items, does a manlier aesthetic actually make a difference?

New York's Butch Bakery built its business on this very notion, peddling cupcakes with names like "Big Papi," "Beer Run" and "Jackhammer" in booze-soaked flavors featuring bacon bits and discs emblazoned with masculine patterns like camouflage, houndstooth, plaids and wood grain. They're a humorous, gender-targeting antithesis to the pastel icing-topped cupcakes that still have crowds lining up outside institutions like the Magnolia Bakery — and rather tasty, too. Going along those lines, there's Manly Mints, made by the same company that also produces breath fresheners dubbed "Mother's Little Helper" and "Morning After Mints." They offer a quick laugh and a wink, along with a product that neither gender would truly take offense to.

Recently, a design firm offered up a concept to revamp the branding and packaging design for Brit brand McCoy's Potato Crisps (that's potato chips to us Yanks) with a more male-specific look. But does something as non-gender-specific as potato chips really need that? The more dude-driven design would include shorter bags with wider openings to accommodate "man" hands. Why not wider openings for anyone to grab bigger handfuls of crisps? Reassigning gender to a basic snack food suggests that it had a gender to begin with. Likewise, Powerful Yogurt, a protein-packed Greek yogurt brand that's touting itself as the "first yogurt for men," implies that you're sorely mistaken for thinking that Fage, Oikos and any of those other popular grocery brands are anything but women's dairy products masquerading as unisex.

We're all for doing away with frilly designs (like these wine labels), especially when it's a question of being outdated. But given the abundance of gender-neutral design trends right now, does a manlier aesthetic actually outsway the product it's selling?

A new design concept for McCoy's potato crisps featuring wider bag openings for big bag man hands.[/caption]
Powerful Yogurt's protein-packed, male-targeted lineup.[/caption]