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Barnum’s Animals crackers drops cartoon cages on packaging after PETA complains

The century-old brand agreed to redesign its packaging to show animals roaming free

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The 116-year-old company behind animal crackers is ditching cages. Mondelez International, the company that now owns Nabisco and the Barnum’s Animals cracker brand, recently unveiled new packaging that shows wild animals roaming in grassland, marking the first major change to the packaging since Barnum’s Animals first came on store shelves in 1902.

The original vintage cartoon design, showing wild animals locked in cages as they head to the circus, was ingrained in many consumers’ heads as the official image of animal crackers.

But in 2016, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said that it was time to let the cartoons roam free.

In a letter to Nabisco, PETA argued that depicting animals heading to the circus reflected a pastime that was cruel and no longer popular with American consumers.

At that time, PETA had already successfully lobbied the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey to stop using live elephants in its shows. The following year, low ticket sales forced the circus company to stop putting on shows altogether.

Numerous cities in the United States subsequently banned the use of live animals in circuses.

As far as circuses of the animal cracker variety are concerned, Nabisco was sold on PETA’s pitch to shut operations down. But what the new  food packaging design would look like remained a mystery until now.

The new package uses the same logo as the original but now features a giraffe, gorilla, zebra, lion, and an elephant standing together in the wild.

‘‘When PETA reached out about Barnum’s, we saw this as another great opportunity to continue to keep this brand modern and contemporary,’’ Jason Levine, a marketing officer with Mondelez International, told the Associated Press.

PETA told the publication that they were pleased because ‘‘the new box for Barnum’s Animals crackers perfectly reflects that our society no longer tolerates the caging and chaining of wild animals for circus shows.”

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