Service of Packaging IV

June 7th, 2012

Categories: Packaging


News moved the spotlight on packaging again-you must have read about those striped Tide detergent pods, reminiscent of candy, that have poisoned young children, who are fooled into thinking that they look good enough to eat [photo below, right]. Even the container is reminiscent of the ones in old fashioned penny candy store displays.

I’ve covered packaging several times before, not because it looks good enough to eat and poisons but because it frustrates and can even cut you.

I’m embarrassed to admit how hard and long I tried to open the liquid soap in the photo above. [You see it in its ready-to-use state. Missing is the mystery piece that stumped us.] I’d twirl the plastic pump, inspect the hose, pry the top with a knife hoping to coax it up and down…even my husband determined it was faulty after giving it a few minutes of his time. So my nephew came over for dinner, walked to the kitchen sink where I’d left the recalcitrant setup, snapped off the white plastic middle piece and gave his hands a squirt. I stood dumbfounded.

I told him about my history with the thing and to make me feel better he admitted that packaging had baffled him at times. He owns a body shop. A front strut–shock absorber–that was locked for shipping, fooled him and his crew when they tried to get it to function before installing it in a car. After a while one of the men pointed to the instructions that told them to hold it down and twist it-like a childproof pill bottle top. That worked and he felt silly. (I saw no instructions on my liquid soap container.)

I wonder if my husband owns shares in companies that make popcorn or chips. When he’s torn open the package, top to bottom, the leftovers are guaranteed to turn stale in a trice. [Is that where the term “stalemate” came from?]

packagingcrackers2012-smallHave you cut yourself trying to open the hard plastic containers [pictured left and below] that increasingly hold dips, crackers, salsa and other goodies? While they keep the items fresh, [hooray!] you need strong or metal-coated fingertips or no fingernails to pry them open.

Sometimes I think the packaging that gets between me and the products I want to use or eat are deliberately difficult to open so I end up breaking or ruining them. That causes the contents to spoil or spill. The result?  I need to buy more sooner than necessary.

What packaging do you praise or struggle with?


4 Responses to “Service of Packaging IV”

  1. Hester Craddock Said:

    For some reason, your stories of about the perils of packaging led me to think of how lucky I am to live in a neighborhood where there still are a few small stores that sell things like fish and cheese which don’t come in packages. They wrap them up for you individually usually in paper. It’s wonderful!

    I know it’s neurotic, but I find myself increasing annoyed by plastic packaging, especially when what is in the package is tiny compared to the size of the package, like the stuff for cold sores that works.

    I’ve got a 5th freedom for you: FREEDOM FROM PACKAGING.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I know the tiny tubes of cold sore medicine you mention. They cost a fortune, which may be one reason that they inspire a big package. A consumer thinks he/she is getting something for all that money. Second, they would get lost at the drugstore if they weren’t in something bigger. But they don’t need hard plastic bubbles–a cardboard similar to what toothpaste comes in would suffice.

    Without packaging the garbage situation would improve for sure but the packaging lobby obviously out trumps the garbage reduction lobby.

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    Perverse packaging as described in lead story may well lead to loss of interest in the product. What gets to me is those so called child proof caps which are inflicted on the general public. While they serve a good purpose in a number of households, small (and often stupid) children are not always in residence.

    There is a tasty Del Monte peach product which has tested my patience too many times and I am looking elsewhere. The plastic top is difficult to remove, and upon success, juice spatters. This flaw is perhaps what puts it on sale so frequently, but I’m parking my bets elsewhere. Will those responsible eventally take heed? Probably not!

  4. jeanne Byington Said:


    Your experience with the container that splashes juice makes me wonder if the company 1) Owns a paper towel franchise and 2) Doesn’t have a range of customers of different sizes, ages and strengths try to open the container. What a waste on their part. Makes me grumpy.

    Some of the childproof pill containers are a cinch to open, hence not effective but no doubt more expensive. Others won’t budge + I am tempted to smash them with a hammer, except I don’t want to swallow pieces of plastic with my medicine!

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