If you would ever take some time from swallowing whole those cheesy poofs, you would notice that it’s packaging, and in fact, most of the packaged food, have some weird symbols right beside the nutritional data and ingredients.
The mysterious symbols are simply of no use to the consumers, heck most of us don’t even notice it! But they are pretty important for the manufacturing process, for the packaging printers to be precise.
The symbols are called “printer’s color blocks” or “process control patches” and are used to indicate hues of ink used to color and print the design on the package. The printer checks these circles or squares to know which color combination it needs to apply, and then a scanner checks them to know if the package conforms to the necessary color scheme and in the case of any problems, initiates the sequence to detect the issues with the printer.
The color blocks come in black, cyan, magenta, and yellow, as these are the base colors used by printers. If the package is printed in just one or two colors, they will have their own blocks (called “spot colors”). For example, a bag of Cheetos will always have at least one orange block, and two more others in different hues.
But some packages don’t have them, since this is an option, not a rule, although most large-scale, mass-production lines do use this system. They also use a cross-hairs of a rifle scope symbol on the package, which is “register marks” (or “position marks”) for the printer to align all the colors printed on the packaging.
The more you know!