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Unveiling the Hidden Language of Food Packaging: Decoding the Mystery Behind Colored Circles



Unveiling the Hidden Language of Food Packaging: Decoding the Mystery Behind Colored Circles

The design and color of food packaging hold more information than meets the eye. For instance, the color of an M&M’s packet can hint at whether it contains peanut, regular, crispy, or caramel varieties, while a distinct cap color on a Coca-Cola bottle signifies something specific. Yet, the most intriguing element often goes unnoticed—the vibrant colored circles or squares found on the back of numerous food packages. Surprisingly, these shapes don’t pertain to flavors, nutrients, or additives, but rather, serve as a hidden communication tool for printing engineers.

These colored circles, appearing in an array of shades including pink, yellow, blue, black, orange, purple, or green, possess an esoteric purpose known as “printer’s color blocks” or “process control patches.” They cater to the printing professionals responsible for crafting the food packaging. According to insights from printing engineer expert Meg Schiraldi, these circles play a crucial role in ensuring the accuracy and quality of the printing ink. They enable technicians to compare ink color against reference boxes printed worldwide, thereby maintaining consistent brand hues.

Schiraldi elaborates, “Printers typically rely on just four primary colors: cyan (blue-green), yellow, magenta, and black. However, some printers incorporate extra colors like orange, green, and violet. This expanded color palette aids in reproducing challenging shades, such as Home Depot’s vibrant orange or FedEx’s distinct purple.” Consequently, packages that encompass a greater number of circles are those requiring meticulous ink color matching for a comprehensive range of hues.

In essence, these colored circles on food packages serve as a guiding light for printers to attain precise color matching during the packaging printing process. This dedication to uniformity across different locations guarantees that a yellow package of M&M’s in Shanghai, Sarajevo, or Sydney consistently contains the same product—peanut M&Ms. Thus, the inconspicuous contribution of these colored circles ensures that the world of food packaging maintains its dependable and recognizable appearance, offering a reliable constant amidst an ever-changing world.

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