If any array of package design could be said to represent post-War United States, it would almost certainly include the work of Ted Eron A'38 (1916-2002), the Cooper graduate behind the packaging of Elmer’s Glue, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Birds Eye frozen foods, and Krylon Spray Paint, among many other iconic brands.
After graduating from The Cooper Union, Eron had no luck finding regular work in commercial art; he was forced to string together temporary freelance jobs. At the same time, his older brother, Abbott, had gained a bit of experience in marketing. With a vote of confidence from their mother—plus her $500 investment—the brothers created Eron & Eron Inc. The alliance proved to be a fruitful one right from the start. Once they were established, the brothers—one an expert on what would attract buyers, the other able to convert that knowledge into arresting package design—drew corporate clients selling a host of products.
While some were looking to save a moribund product through marketing, others like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, came to Eron because the candy was selling at an increasingly higher rate and their parent company, Hershey’s, wanted to unify the brand’s look. Over the years, the candy had been sold in different kinds of packaging material, including a traditional cardboard candy box, and using an array of fonts. But the Eron brothers argued that the change in packaging should not be radical—after all, the candy was already hugely successful. Instead, they offered Ted’s redesign, a bolder version of one of the Reese’s fonts set against an orange background with minimal distracting copy. The idea was to build on an existing style while making the new packaging immediately visible on store shelves.
The brothers had even more success when collaborating with Borden, a company that had started out selling condensed milk in 1899 and grew to a conglomerate peddling everything from glue to whipped potatoes to hair dye. While working with Ted Eron, between 1962 and 1964, the company launched 72 new food products, and incredibly 83% of them succeeded. Soon after, the Eron brothers convinced a Borden offshoot corporation, the Borden Chemical Company, that the best marketing strategy for the company’s adhesive products was to create a product “family.” After Ted redesigned the bottle for Borden’s Elmer’s Glue-All, he and Abbott suggested that Elmer’s act as an anchor product to promote other related adhesives like Elmer’s epoxy and cement glue. The relationship between Borden and the brothers proved to be so close that the Erons began to suggest the development of new products that they could effectively market. A case in point was the company’s Elmer’s School Glue, the first white glue that could be washed out of clothes, a product that the Erons had encouraged Borden’s to create. It was a hit—and a testament to the brothers’ astute sense of the buying public and Ted’s ability to shape the era’s commercial aesthetic.