Rowntrees Gum Retro package
Retro Roundtree's packaging can spark happy memories in dementia patients. 

From wrappers to tin labels to chocolate boxes, Nestle UK & Ireland is digging up packaging from its confectionary archive in an effort to spark happy memories among those suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other memory problems.

 The idea is to take vintage materials, including tin labels and photographs, and use them to replace modern-day packaging in hopes of sparking fond memories from the past.

 Something as simple as an old candy wrapper can be responsible for triggering vivid memories from happy times, saysAlison Cook, director of external affairs at the UK-based Alzheimer’s Society.

 The Reminiscence Pack can be downloaded from the website, then printed out. The wrappers and labels fit standard bars and tins. Posters, chocolate boxes and even a 1950s board game are also featured in the collection.

 The idea for the project came from a surplus of inquiries from care groups. They were convinced that pleasant recollections from long-term memory could be sparked from old packaging.

 “This activity helps [caregivers] and loved ones to engage with people with dementia in a positive way, and has the potential to improve the quality of life for the 800,000 living with dementia in the UK,” Cook says.

 The Alzheimer’s Society in the UK leads the four-country region in the fight against dementia. The Nestle pack was produced with their advice.

 Familiar UK brands, which no longer exist, are currently being trialed by the Society in two support groups that run activities for those with dementia and their caregivers. The brands include the Rowntree’s Dairy Box along with products such as the fruit and nut Motoring Chocolate bar and malted milk chocolate caramel, Chocolate Pie.

 The retro packs come in a detailed variety. There are tin labels, posters, photographs, chocolate boxes and one of the earliest Rowntree’s Fruit Gums boxes. Among the wrappers is a 1950s Aero chocolate bar label. The vintage products enable those with memory loss to recreate moments from the past.

 Nestle UK & Ireland has developed a large archive with the work of generations of archivists, employees and members of the public. Many of the brands included were originally made by Rowntree’s, the UK confectionery company acquired by Nestle in 1988.