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Food Packaging that Drives You Crazy!

Tonight it hit me while opening a bottle of olive oil...the person(s) who invented aluminum screw caps should be boiled in said oil. Once again, it seems I have stripped the threads on another oil cap.

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  1. I get the same problem. You'd think the company would make better caps , especially for oils.

    1. I wonder if the last bottle of olive oil i purchased EVER had threads on it!

      1. Those resealable (salad) greens bags... it says "Pull Here," hah! I always render them unresealable.

        9 Replies
        1. re: Sarah

          I hate all of those "resealable" bags! Usually I fail to open them properly and destroy the bag. But then there are other products that have them and the two sides of the zip don't line up and they don't reseal anyway. I don't even try anymore. I open them the way I want and close them up using my own clip.

          1. re: Sooeygun

            I hate those zip lock, resealable packages too, especially the ones on sliced cheese, but the ones that I really find useless are the "peel & stick resealable" containers. They are really hard to peel and they never do restick!

            1. re: dragonchowmein

              A lone dissent here - I really *like* the resealable hot dog packages. I forget what brand they were (probably Oscar Meyer) but I found it really handy. I live alone and can only eat 2 at a time (well, I could stuff another one in but try not to) so I appreciate them being kept fresh. Oh, and bacon packages as well! I love the "zipper" that reseals my package. I've always had a problem keeping bacon fresh after opening the package. And shredded cheese - not very Chow-worthy, but I do buy it once in awhile for certain quickie meals. The zipper keeps the whole mess fresh for up to two weeks.

              1. re: Catskillgirl

                I saw the title of this thread and was just going to come in here and sream.... BACON!!! I see you mentioned it. My pettest of peeves is the ridiculous packaging methods used for bacon. Our local pork people haven't gotten on the ziplock bandwagon, and I have searched the bins looking for zip lock bacon. All for naught. All of our bacon is sealed, plastic to plastic, vaccumed up against the bacon. You have to use scissors and cut around the package, and then it can't be closed. You have to put the whole works into another plastic bag, and everything becomes covered in bacon fat. Ugh. Maybe I need to use my bacon salt more often!

                1. re: juliasqueezer

                  I don't use bacon that often, and my wife doesn't eat it, so when I buy a pound I immediately separate it into portions of 3 - 4 rashers each, wrap each portion airtight in plastic wrap, and freeze them. To use, I unwrap a packet, nuke for one minute on a plate between two paper towels, and it's ready to fry.

                  1. re: BobB

                    What a great idea! Then I won't have to deal with the repeated annoyance of handling big blocks of stuck-together bacon. I'm using this one, BobB!

                  2. re: juliasqueezer

                    Oh, that stinks! Around here even the store brand bacon (ShopRite) comes in ziplock packages.Love them!

                    1. re: Catskillgirl

                      Ha! Maybe I need to move to a more bacon-friendly place!

            2. re: Sarah

              I hate the resealable packages that I'm supposed to cut instead of tear. I always cut where it tells me to and the stupid thing is still glued shut, and then I cut lower and end up getting too low for the reseal to work.

            3. I don't like when chocolate bars have an inner foil wrapper that's glued shut and impossible to open without making an unsightly ripped-up foil mess and I'm forced to just eat the entire bar in one go so I don't have to look at the destroyed packaging. I'm sure the sealed foil is really essential for keeping the chocolate fresh during periods of prolonged storage, but… let's just say I have never encountered that particular problem.

              1. Unfortunately, if those caps that are of the "tamper indicating" type, they need help from a heavy duty utility knife to score the ring perforations. Another mechanically inclined individual uses a roller style glass cutter on the ring perforation seam. The local plumber uses his pipe cutter to assist his wife in the related matter.

                Just remember Chowhounds, we need to be a "Jack of All Trades" to pull things off, from time to time. Proper tools for the job hasn't been developed yet, so we have to adjust.

                1. Bread or rolls in bags that are closed with cellophane tape and not a twist tie or plastic fastener. There supposedly is a way to open these without making a hole in the bag, but I haven't figured it out. Even Walmart has reverted back to twist ties, so the supermarkets are just lagging (and cheap).

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: RGC1982

                    Ack! I'm with you on this.

                    Give me a twist-tie or just a spin of the bag and I'll take care of it. The super-sticky tapes as fasteners are insidious, and we have had many us-v-them-moments trying to preserve the bag, and therefore bread-freshness. (And hey! Bread isn't cheap anymore!)

                    I save some of my sturdier bread bags, washed and dried, and go to my stash of twist ties when I run into this. But I still get irritated.

                    Is the sticky tie really a cost saving? Anyone know?

                    So curious,

                    1. re: RGC1982

                      I use a mini scissors to slide and snip (up the width) of the ring portion of the tape. Peel the bag from the cut area from the tape to avoid tearing.

                      Other suggestions include a sewing tool called (I believe called a seam ripper) to run up the tape ring . Razor hobby hook knife to cut a slit in the ring area.

                      BTW I haven't seen them use cellophane tape, yet, but a narrow (normally red) paper tape. The packaging industry created a poly bag sealer as a cost cutting measure over manual twist ties. The industry also has to deal liabilities created with the use of twist ties and plastic tab closures being a choke hazard.

                      1. re: RShea78

                        Aargh! So it's partly our litigious society that's doing away with twist ties? At the bakery I run (the wholesale end mainly) I am still using twist ties and will continue to do so unless they become actually illegal. I HATE that awful tape!

                        1. re: RShea78

                          Heck, I might as well declare my overly-filled drawer of twist ties a treasure trove of green-thinking if these things are going away. Choking? Give me a break. Kids can choke on a pea, for cripes sake. We still keep feeding them peas.

                          If we use twist ties, we can reuse bags. If the bags are closed with super-sticky tape, we often can't. Is the future of our children better served with loads of ripped up, taped plastic bags, versus a few twist ties (that really, when you think about it, are recyclable)?well, huh?


                          1. re: cayjohan

                            Well, the potential choking hazard is small cookies compared to that of a child's perforated intestinal tract (via, wire tie ingestion). Going green still requires some foresight so it doesn't create another problems.

                            Believe it or not- stores could use the self sticking plastic wrap, but because the process requires a short puff of heated air, they would have to add a styrofoam tray (or some insulating insert). They could resize a fold over style of bag similar to that of a sandwich bag, to avoid tape. Instead, they seem to the route of doing things the hard way, making our lives miserable.

                            1. re: RShea78

                              Point taken, RShea. Hadn't thought of that. Still, parental supervision keeps a lot of stuff out of kids' mouths: pennies, cat vomit, slugs, unknown plants, cognac, bobby pins, candles, ad infinitum.

                              Oh, and twist ties.

                              On self sticking wraps: if we have Post-its, why can't we have a resealable bread tape? (I still like my archived twist-ties...grin.) Nice idea, despite my problems with the stick-um industry.


                              1. re: cayjohan

                                ""Still, parental supervision keeps a lot of stuff out of kids' mouths...""

                                My nephew was once a food sneaker that learned his lesson quickly, when he swiped a Jalapeno pepper from the pizza box. Oddly, at the moment, we were discussing the leather muzzle mask that Anthony Hopkins wore when filming "Silence of The Lambs". And too bad there wasn't a child's version...

                                1. re: RShea78

                                  So maybe the "food packaging" should be on the part of the eater, huh? LOL


                      2. The Californian salad mixes (usually mâche with something...) that come in those humongous, ridiculously large rectangular plastic containers. What an ecological disaster. Plus, they take up an enormous amount of space in your garbage. Are you supposed to reuse them? If so, for what? I hardly ever buy them anymore, even though I really dig those salads....

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: linguafood

                          lingua, check out the bulk veggies at a co-op, if you have access. We get our greens that way. No clamshells involved. Cay

                          1. re: linguafood

                            Recycle them? That's what I do, but they are a pain!! Esp when you got the big ones and smaller ones which have spinach, arugala..etc. And you're waiting for garbage day or something,

                            1. re: BamiaWruz

                              Where I used to live they would recycle them. The city I am in now won't - they only take plastic shaped as a bottle - the opening has to be smaller than the base. I have yet to find anyone in that department who can explain how/why this works for them.

                              1. re: meatn3

                                In my bss aackwards City, only plastic dairy style jugs are recycled. Labels along with the cap and related material must be removed or face some recycling citation. Recently, we had a new neighbor that moved in that failed to ask about the City's trash/recycling procedures. I think they got to meet the entire City's Police force with their new Paddy Wagon.

                                1. re: meatn3

                                  I save the plastic clamshells, because they're the perfect thing for transporting brownies or cookies!

                                  1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                                    That reminds of what I do with clear plastic egg cartons, the new kind that fold in three. They are recyclable where I live but I found that on the odd occasion when we make chocolate-dipped strawberries, these babies are perfect for storing and transporting the chocolate strawberries. They are kept separate each nested in a bit of parchment paper in its own compartment, safe from bumps and bruising. And you can see them! (which means that some prematurely disappear)

                              2. re: linguafood

                                I do reuse them.

                                I save them and use them in the summer for big BBQ batches of coleslaw or macaroni salad.

                                And when I do recycle them, I just cut them up to fit into the bin.

                                But I also think I read you can use them as shrinky dinks! I'll try to find the link.

                              3. yes, and now that wine bottles are also going the way of the screwtop on occasion, i've had the experience with those as well !

                                I had the misfortune of getting a wonky bottle of sriracha last time, and the squirt top never did seem to get in the right place to let anything out.

                                1. Ditto on the "resealable" packages that are impossible to re-seal, difficult screw tops and bread without twist ties. Another thing that annoys me are the soda fridge packs - I can't ever get the opening part torn off right and if you mess it up too badly all the sodas spill out. I also hate wide-mouth bottled drinks.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: akq

                                    ""I also hate wide-mouth bottled drinks.""

                                    I always have referred them to "loud-mouth" bottled drinks. You know, drinks for all those loud mouthed people... ;-)

                                    1. re: akq

                                      Here's a handy-dandy little tip for those soda fridge boxes (if you do manage to remove the center part successfully!) I keep one in my pantry to store plastic grocery bags. Whenever I get them I empty them and stick them in the box - they stay out of the way but are easily accessible. And I do re-use them until they shred, which is the only reason that they do come home from the store with me!

                                    2. I hate it when I spend ten minutes trying to open a bag of chips with my teeth and only then notice the "easy open notch". Oops.

                                      Also: cardboard cartons of milk or cream. That little fold-out spout NEVER folds out like it's supposed to.

                                      12 Replies
                                      1. re: mordacity

                                        Very true on the milk cartons. I now buy my half-n-half with the spout on the side. But the little grenade pull seal is dangerous too - it takes so much force to pull it off that there is almost always a spill! But at least once they are open, I know they will be airtight when closed.

                                        1. re: meatn3

                                          "little grenade pull seal "
                                          LOL! Perfect description. They generally explode in my kitchen as well.

                                          1. re: Catskillgirl

                                            I'm not a morning person, so it is not pretty if I have to deal with this before my coffee!

                                            I try to remember and "prep" a new container the night before.

                                            1. re: meatn3

                                              meatn3, I would hate to see you in the bless-ed AM, trying to peel the sealed top off of one of those portion "thimble" creamers. ;-)

                                              Just yesterday, I saw a well dressed executive types, with exploded cream all over his dark suit. His buddy said, "smooth move exlax" and the rest of the conversation isn't suitable for repeating.

                                              1. re: RShea78

                                                Have we met? I feel you know me so well!

                                                Lets put it this way, I am not allowed to wear white!

                                          2. re: meatn3

                                            but those little grenade pulls are a pain in the ars to remove when you recycle the milk carton!

                                            1. re: cimui

                                              True, my box cutter gets a workout after I've had several cups of coffee.

                                              1. re: meatn3

                                                now you're making it sound fun.

                                                1. re: cimui

                                                  I'm easily amused - gift or curse, still not sure!

                                                2. re: meatn3

                                                  For some reason, I vision the neighbors gawking through your windows, and calling the cops.

                                                  Fortunately, terrorizing your recyclables, isn't a crime. :-p

                                                3. re: cimui

                                                  According to a run-down of recyclables I read recently (in Real Simple if IRRC) you don't need to remove the plastic spout from paper cartons. It all gets shredded and the plastic bits are easily removed in the recycling process.

                                                  1. re: mpjmph

                                                    Where I used to live the recycle pick-up guys would put them back into your container if the spouts had not been removed. They were vigilant.

                                                    The rules seem to vary wildly from town to town. I guess it just depends on where the municipality is sending the stuff off to next. Or perhaps it depends on how the the information is interpreted by the town officials.

                                            2. I hate anything in celophane packaging. Whether it's cookies, tortilla chips, or anything else, the bag always splits down the side and the contents spill on the floor. even if it doesn't split, you can't fold or roll the bag so it stays closed...so you have to eat the whole bag cookies lest they go stale.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: al b. darned

                                                My kitchen has plenty of scissors as I refuse to open those kind of bags any other way. You see, I wised up as a kid going through the emotional loss of my food that landed up all over the floor. Seen the Hardee's commercial?

                                                My kitchen also has plenty of those office "Bulldog #4 Clips" (cheaper by the dozen) that I first fold and roll down the bag for re-closing.

                                                1. re: RShea78

                                                  Ditto on the scissors. I have a mix of binder clips and clothespins for sealing bags. Binder clips are best, but they get too cold to handle in the freezer so I use wooden clothes pins for frozen veggie bags.

                                              2. I hate the condiment/sauce bottles with both a tamper-proof plastic wrapper AND a foil seal over the neck of the bottle (under the lid). I can never remember which brand has them and which doesn't, so I look like a complete doofus banging on the bottom of my newly-opened oyster sauce bottle, saying things like "This sauce is REALLY thick", only to realise that I have bought a brand where I have to unscrew the lid and remove the foil thingy.

                                                1. what about the double bagged bread? Why do you need to seal the bread twice?

                                                  I remember Mitch Hedberg making a funny comment about that once.

                                                  1. I just bought three jars of Classico spaghetti sauce at Cosco because my homemade meatballs "drank up" almost all my homemade sauce. I was gonna have spaghetti and meatballs tonight but I just gave up and froze the meatballs with the little bit of sauce that was left. I could not get the glass jars open. And the big plastic containers of mixed nuts at Costco are really hard for me to open also.

                                                    9 Replies
                                                    1. re: givemecarbs

                                                      carbs--I bought a littlle plastic gadget at BBY for about 2 bucks--looks like a bottle opener but basically gives you just enough leverage to break the vacuum of a glass jar and then it's easy to open. Definitely worth the $

                                                      1. re: coney with everything

                                                        I have one too - it is a fantastic tool!

                                                        1. re: coney with everything

                                                          Is it like this one at the link? I was thinking of getting it for my arthritic brother.

                                                          1. re: JamieK

                                                            I like this design better than mine! The one I have requires more from your fingers.

                                                              1. re: coney with everything

                                                                I have the same one, works on almost every jar. I do have to grip it somewhat though.

                                                          2. re: givemecarbs

                                                            I don't have any magic jar opening tool beyond what's in the cutlery drawer. When I can't get the lid off a jar (as opposed to a small mouth bottle) I tilt the jar in my left hand and strike the top edge of the lid sharply with the handle of an old table knife several places around the lid. I've been doing this since my grandfather taught me the trick when I was a little kid. NEVER had it fail! Even with arthritis in my hands now.

                                                            Just to be sure the method is clear, you hold the jar at an angle, then strike downward in the direction the lid unscrews. Works on peanut butter, pickles, jellies and jams, spaghetti sauce, and anything else that comes in a jar. '-)

                                                            1. re: givemecarbs

                                                              I had a salsa jar that DH bought that was similar...gave it a firm whack on the bottom, usually that's enough, this time it took a few taps on top with a butter knife to loosen the seal. I hear you about the Costco nuts too - my MIL is a fan of their cashews. I find the lids waay to big for my hands.

                                                              These days I find myself buying nuts and beans etc in bulk and buying glass jars with the wire bail & rubber ring closure for storage... (keeps me from losing say a bag of lentils in a sea of plastic bags and buying more when I don't need to).

                                                              1. re: givemecarbs

                                                                I tap the side of the lid with a wooden mallet .

                                                              2. Mustard in square-shouldered squirt bottles. The last quarter or so gets hung up around the shoulders and won't squirt , and it's really hard to scrape the shoulders with a spoon. I once resorted to cutting up the bottle with a utility knife. Now I just won't buy them. But I actually like screw caps on wine, they're better than those fake plastic corks that won't go back into the bottle.

                                                                1. Iceberg lettuce! That damned cello/plastic bag that is twisted and twisted into a long queue, then taped with a length of cellophane tape that sometimes wraps all the way around the damned bag! Who is the idiot who came up with that packaging? And may he find himself wrapped in tape from head to foot and pushed over!

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                                    Oh, good one! I detest that stuff - I just attack the head with a pair of scissors and start cutting away until I can free the poor lettuce. What *is* that stuff supposed to do, anyway? It's sure not re-sealable, or at least in any way that I can figure out!

                                                                    1. re: Catskillgirl

                                                                      If it's like the bags of grapes sealed that way in my grocery store - I was curious and asked the local produce manager as he flipped and sealed a pile of them - it's to keep people from sampling and making themselves a smaller bag of grapes/tossing the excess aside.

                                                                      1. re: maplesugar

                                                                        I get the sample prevention strategy, but as a person who grocery shops for 1 it really irritates me to have to choose between buying more grapes than I can consume and buying no grapes at all. So stores that strong arm me into buying larger quantities of produce (with more packaging than necessary) don't get my business, at least not in the produce department.

                                                                        1. re: mpjmph

                                                                          Oh I agree, I'm not a fan of their policies. I usually find the grape packages too big too.

                                                                  2. Tho it's not really packaging, I hate the "big mouth" straws they have at Mickey D's.

                                                                    1. Bags of chips, pasta, etc that are glued in such a way that when one finally gets them to open send the contents flying around the room.

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: lgss

                                                                        Uggghhh...me, too! I won't let my husband attempt to open those. I'll have one of those packages, and my husband will see me struggling while i try to pull it open in a controlled manner. "Here, let me open that!" Ummm...no, b/c when you jerk the thing open, there's nothing left in there for me to eat.

                                                                        1. re: lgss

                                                                          Such things are why God created scissors! '-)

                                                                          1. re: lgss

                                                                            Exact description of me opening a box of cereal. The box itself opens without a problem but the bag inside is impossible. Flakes flying all around.

                                                                            Then comes the milk in the plastic jug. The cap is so small I can't hold onto it and it falls to the floor. Just what I need, another thing to wash. I put a sealed milk jug in the back of the fridge for use later. I opened the fridge about 30 minutes later only to find milk all over the shelf. One more complaint, because the jug doesn't have a spout it is very difficult to control when it is full.

                                                                          2. can't stand opening the 20lb bags of dried dog food. either they have a string which you are supposed to pull but it always breaks and I have to resort to scissors, or they have a ziplock which of course I end up cutting in the wrong place.

                                                                            Whatever the system I cannot manage to open a bag without spilling a whole load of doggie food and of course I cannot now close the bag for the 2 weeks it takes to use up.

                                                                            1. the big bags of sugar (5lbs or 2 kilos). Soon as you start to unfold the top, the paper starts to tear and I end up with sugar over the counter.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: smartie

                                                                                ohh... I hate opening a new bag of sugar. I don't have a problem ripping the bag, but there's always some sugar stuck in the folded top so it spills out while I'm peeling it open. Then there's the sugar that gets caught between the two layers of paper and spills out all over the counter while I'm pouring the sugar into it's storage container.

                                                                                1. re: mpjmph

                                                                                  I have the same problem. I try to remember to open it and transfer it to the storage container over the sink...doesn't always happen. Hate those little crystals on the counter, I always miss a few!

                                                                              2. My pet peeve is "cute little packaging". Generally they are supposed to be an individual serving, but in some infant portion. They are not intended to feed 10 year old Jr, unless you purchased a 48 count pack from Sams Club.

                                                                                Along that same line is those microwave catapult cups. (pastas and stews are the most common) The victim nukes the food cup as directed, suddenly hears a mild pop. When the victim opens the door, they discover the food cup is now upside-down, with their food splattered all over the inside.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: RShea78

                                                                                  ummmm... Are you sure you read the directions? I've never seen a microwaveable package that doesn't include directions to break the seal before nuking.

                                                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                    That isn't it. Problem is in the design of the cup/base which allows for one big air pocket. (Perhaps the base ring/convex thing it is called a punt?) Any thick product is "air trapped" with no place to go. The entire mass blows.

                                                                                2. I hate that one grocery store I frequent doesnt always have the produce loose - they have a lot of things packaged in styrofoam trays. So wasteful. Actually, any wasteful packaging is my pet peeve.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: Chefsquire

                                                                                    I'm with you on the wasteful packaging. Hate the Matryoshka doll packages with one package in another package in another package in another package.

                                                                                  2. Plastic bags with orange stripes that camouflages the imperfections of the carrots or oranges/tangerines contained within.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: racer x

                                                                                      I say, "let them rot". Me not buy.

                                                                                    2. Not exactly food packaging but packaging for food - Glad Cling wrap.... I practically tore the box in half tonight trying to cut some until I discovered that the cutting strip is attached to the flap part of the box that opens; one has to tear it BACK rather than away in order to cut.

                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Jimmy Buffet

                                                                                        ""Glad Cling wrap""

                                                                                        I purchase high quality Foodservice wrap which makes the average Consumer wraps worth between 25 to 50 cents a box. Consumer wraps tend to run out the moment I really needed it.

                                                                                        1. re: RShea78

                                                                                          Any particular brand/supplier stand out?

                                                                                          1. re: Jimmy Buffet

                                                                                            Reynolds 914 18in x 2000ft, through local wholesale suppliers. Generally runs about $23.00 and lasts me between 18 - 24 months. (Std. duty 914, Not Lt. duty 914M)

                                                                                        2. re: Jimmy Buffet

                                                                                          I'm with you on that one! Speaking of wrap packaging--what about Aluminum Foil? It seems that every roll of foil I purchase has one end that is all crinkled and wrinkled up and it separates from the rest of the foil and it takes me forever to undo the little end....then I am constantly cutting myself on the cutting strip of both the foil and gladwrap.

                                                                                          1. re: jarona

                                                                                            ""then I am constantly cutting myself on the cutting strip of both the foil and gladwrap.""

                                                                                            I know some Commercial foil/wraps is starting to use a safety cutter very similar to a miniature version of an envelope opener. (plastic guarded razor blade style) I think they will soon be on Consumer foils/wraps.

                                                                                            In the meantime I would tape up those dangerous cutting strips, keeping one of those envelope cutters handy or come up with something that you would be comfortable with. My Aunt almost bleed to death when my tall uncle mistakenly put the foil on the wrong shelf. The attached cutting strip cut her mid-wrist area and along her neck line when the box slipped off the shelf in her attempts to grab it. Now her home is free from those unsafe boxes when a local friend of hers made her a safer one.

                                                                                        3. k, have another one as of last night with the Taste of Thai Green Curry paste packet.....flat plastic bag thing inside the outer packaging. I use about a tablespoon and save the rest inside a ziploc baggie, bag and all. Thankfully paste is thick enough to stay in it's place, with other similar packaing that is more liquid, it's a pain. Have to find a jar or container anyway to keep it.

                                                                                          I'll take the jar to begin with next time.

                                                                                          1. Another one - bags of pretzels, potato chips that upon opening, split longitudinally toward the bottom of the bag