The spy plane and the jam jar

Product design is subjective. Only politics and boxing judging yield more divergent and inflamed opinions.

There are products that look plain but work perfectly; mediocre products that look great; and products that ace both form and function.

The SR-71 spy plane was one of the latter. Put into service in 1966, it still looks like something from the future. It also still holds the speed record for an “air-breathing manned aircraft.” There were incredible challenges in the design and manufacture. Ironically, the titanium ore that made the plane possible was imported from the Soviet Union. 

Once so secret that taking its photo might get you killed, the SR-71 is now on display in New York City.

Which brings us to Bonne Maman. 

What does a $6 jar of jam have in common with a billion dollar spy plane? Design perfection.

The jar has a bigger mouth than a cable TV news pundit, so you can get all the jam out. Broad shoulders are desirable in a middle linebacker. They are counterproductive in a jam jar. 

The red gingham lid and handwritten label evoke home-made preserves. The handwriting looks genuine. Typography nerds will notice there are five different types of E in the script, vs. run-of-the-mill fonts where all the letters are the same. You hope that someone got their grandma to write it with a fountain pen. (“Bonne Maman” means “granny.”) 

And yeah, the jam is really tasty too. From the website: “Made with 5 simple ingredients that could be found in your kitchen. No high fructose corn syrup, no additives or preservatives, gluten-free, kosher, and Non-GMO Project Verified.”

Strong work, granny.

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