Lay's Sea Salt chips packaging

At the bottom left on the back…there is a series of colored circles. 15 to be exact.

Anyone know what they are for?

(Is it OK to start a GQ post with “I think…”?)

I think it’s the registration marks for the printing process on the packaging.

This may be what Ruby meant, but a multi-color package usually has an array for quality control, to show that the colors are lined up right. The colors are printed sequentially, and if one color gets wheewhaw, the printer wants to know right away.

Ive seen such dots (Not exactly 15) on a LOT of packaging. I think there is one for each color on the package. If we mean registration as way of “Orientation” for all the ink then I agree with that. I thought it was simply just to test somewhere to see that all the colors are working. I guess that since it is all automated … no one sees, or cares if one dot doesnt show up .

IANAP, but in printing, “registration” primarily means “alignment”, though registration marks can be used to check color balnce and other QC, too.

I’m sure you’ve seen disconcerting newspaper photos where the printing colors were slightly misaligned. This doesn’t sell Cheerios.

Registration marks allow quick -or even automated- detection and correction of misalignments, ink feed problems etc., without stopping the run. The dots are probably the “pure colors” chosen for the packaging, and various combinations of those colors. If a “purple” square registration mark shows a cyan fringe that was 0.3 mm “up” and 0.1 mm “to the right” (and a corresponding magenta fringe on the opposite edges) a machine scanner can quickly make the appropriate adjustment to put them in alignment. The product packaging on the biggest brand names may use much more than just four colors, if the manufacturer feels that a more mouth-watering picture will increase their sales, or for predominant colors, especially if they are bright colors (if you’re printing a million boxes that are 70% Apple Jack Green, adding an Apple Jack green ink may be easier, and produce a more uniform result, than printing that green as mixture of colors)

Just for ha-has, I’ve got a container of yogurt here with a line of 12 dots.

Vocabulary bonus: The four colors most commonly used in color printing are cyan, magenta, yellow and black. (aka CMYK) and are called process colors. For further study, there is a relatively new color process called hexachrome that adds green and orange inks for better color fidelity. My yogurt cup has orange and green dots on it, so it’s a pretty fair bet that it was printed in hexachrome process.

Special colors, like the Apple Jacks Gren example above, are called spot colors. Spot colors are used when you need the color to be (hehe) spot-on perfect, or there’s a huge amount of it and it makes more sense to print the actual color, as opposed to blending it with process colors.

You can see registration marks on magazine pages sometimes if they’ve been cut improperly (e.g., the image is further down on the page than it’s supposed to be because the paper was seated low when cut, so you miss the bottom part of the print and you see much more of the upper gutter than you were supposed to). It happens even more frequently with newspapers, I assume because the paper has to go out the next morning and they don’t have time to rerun a bunch of poorly-cut papers.