This past weekend, Reddit users have been delighting in pictures of prepackaged grape juice (alas, not wine) and bread (or is that gum?) communion reportedly handed out to one church-going user's 7,000-strong congregation. The Reddit faithful were quick to dub the curiosities 'Christables' after a certain packaged lunchtray product and offered up a number of other amusing puns and slogan suggestions—from mildly disrespectful to brazen copyright infringement—including gems such as "I Can't Believe It's Not Salvation" to "# Bad dap bap bap baaa...I'm loving Him #."
As comments on the thread point towards, the incongruity that we (even non-believers) feel at the sight of this object has to do with the design language: disposable plastic + aluminum-foiled symbols of the fast and packaged food industries that is unavoidably synonymous with cheapness, convenience and transience—a culmination that no amount of script typography, biblical quotes and cross symbols can outweigh.
Whilst distributors make efforts to extol the virtues of the 'Remembrance Individually Packaged Bread & Juice Communion Set'—'Ergonomic Design... 1-year shelf-life... 100% recyclable'—as industrial designers (again, however religious), we're left questioning whether such a product so packaged (affordable, efficient and hygienic as it may be) could ever fulfill its more spiritual functional requirements; namely ushering a worshiper to that special place where they feel at most at one with a divine truth and beauty. Something's telling us that this could be done better. A hell load of a lot better.
Sam Dunne is a designer, strategist and writer based in London. Sam is founder of design strategy agency Cohere and Contributing Editor at Core77—reporting broadly on design, technology, food and object culture.