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HOW DO YOU SELL PORK RINDS TO THE NATURAL FOOD CROWD? Gaytan Foods challenged Mark Oliver, Inc. to create a brand identity and packaging for Domingo’s, a new line of chicharrones, or pork rinds. The assignment: get a consumer to buy it.

Against the odds, the family-owned maker of traditional Hispanic salty snacks wanted to sell pork rind products to consumers shopping in natural and upscale grocery stores.

Believe it or not, chicharrones are a healthy snack. They’re low in carbs and have less fat and more protein than a potato chip. They satisfy the craving for a salty snack without raising cholesterol levels—and they taste good. Many cultures have long enjoyed the crunchy texture and spicy taste. How do you attract new consumers, especially those put off by even the idea of eating a fried pork skin?

The design team analyzed the company history, the product qualities, and the researched the target market, and decided the key features would be the old-fashioned cooking process and the Gaytan family story.

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Domingo Gaytan invented the cooking style in the early 1900’s when he cooked chicharrones in a large black iron kettle in the backyard in two stages instead of the traditional single-step process, creating a light and fluffy pork rind. They were later sold in the family store.

Four generations later, Gaytan Foods is still at it. “We know we have the ethnic market covered with our other brands, but we wanted to open up new sales opportunities and be the marketer of premier all-natural chicharrones to the high-end grocery and natural products markets,” said Ryan Gaytan. “Our chicharrones are, first, traditionally made and have had a long heritage, and secondly, we wanted to appeal to this newer, more upscale market. But we didn’t want to lose our tradition, our sense of identity.”

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“It was going to be a tough job to get this new brand accepted by store buyers and consumers in these markets,” noted Oliver. “We needed to create a look and feel that would convince a skeptical consumer that this was an all-natural and traditionally-made product they could embrace.”

The design team asked Gaytan for the company archives. While reviewing the old materials they discovered a photograph of the Gaytan store featuring Domingo’s son and wife, taken around 1935. The personal link became a key to convincingly emphasizing the traditional all-natural manufacturing process.

The packaging solution was to tell the family story with an emphasis on the cooking technique. The team chose “Domingo’s” as the brand name as a testimony to the founder and to tie to the family tradition.

To evoke the time period, 1920′s baseball-style hand-lettering was commissioned from John Burns, distinctive period fonts were found, and an extensive use of line-work worked together to capture the era. The rediscovered photograph of the original store focused the design. Rotogravure printing was used for the film to maintain a high-level of quality.

“The packaging has opened doors for us,” said Gaytan. “New stores and consumers are willing to try our product. Sales have met our expectations. We have always been proud of our chicharrones, but now we have packaging to match their quality.”

Oliver wryly noted, “If we can sell pork rinds to the natural foods crowd, maybe we can sell anything.”

Domingo’s chicharrones are available in four flavors in two sizes, a total of 8 SKUs.

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