Thinking about the first package ever, we imagine a burly, premedieval nomad, nursing a mug of mead by a smoldering fire, gloomily pondering the prospect of leaving behind what’s left of his hard-won roasted wild boar. Necessity called for invention, and packaging was born.

In those early days, package design was limited to the hollowing out of a gourd or the drying of an animal pelt. As centuries passed, paper, wood, ceramic, bronze, and iron all served their time as packaging materials.

In the early 1900s, scientists realized that sealing food in tin extended the life of the product. Food manufacturers realized that tinned food would sell better if it had their name on it. As marketing and printing techniques advanced, designers ...

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