The beasts on the boxes of its animal crackers have been let loose after more than a century behind bars.
The redesigned boxes – which have been rolled out across the US – used to depict circus animals in boxcars, but now they show a zebra, elephant, lion, giraffe and gorilla roaming free in an African savannah.
“We saw this as another great opportunity to continue to keep this brand modern and contemporary,” said Jason Levine, Mondelēz’s chief marketing officer for North America.
The new design follows pressure from PETA that circuses often mistreat animals. The group has been protesting the use of animals in circuses for more than 30 years.
Illinois, where Mondelēz has its headquarters, was the first US state to ban circuses with elephant shows. To date, more than 80 US cities have partially or fully banned circuses with wild animals, according to Animal Defenders International.
“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,” said Tracy Reiman, PETA’s executive VP.
Nabisco has been making Barnum’s Animals crackers since 1902 and has redesigned its boxes before, but only for limited-time special editions. In 1995, it offered an endangered species collection to raise money for the World Wildlife Fund, followed by a zoo collection in 1997 to raise money for the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. In 2010, the company collaborated with designer Lilly Pulitzer to raise money for tiger conservation.
Earlier this year, the crackers’ namesake circus – Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey – erected its circus tent for the last time. The 146-year-old circus, once billed as the ‘greatest show on earth,’ folded its flaps in May due to slow ticket sales.