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Dec 12, 2009 09:12 AM

Food packaging that drives you nuts?


Yesterday I crushed about the first 6 crackers trying to open the sleeve, and then oil splashed on me while opening a can of anchovies, and I smelled like catfood all night. This morning I tore a gaping hole in a bag of coffee beans trying to open it. Then I had to re-close the partial bar of cream cheese, and the partial pound of bacon, tasks at which I fail miserably. Am I just clumsy, or is some food packaging less than perfect?

  1. Believe me, you are not alone in the difficult packaging universe. Food packaging is definitely less than perfect. I resort to knives and scissors to open coffee bean bags, bacon, cream cheese; anchovies (and cat food) are messy, but I don't seem to have a personal problem with cracker sleeves.
    I think the deal is that light-weight packaging costs the consumer less on the bottom line and manufacturers assume the consumer will re-wrap or re-package the food products after opening.
    On a happy note, bacon is being packed in resealable zip-strip type packages now; at least certain brands are, probably due to customer request.

    1. If I was the king of the world, I would DEMAND that all the little seals under the screw on cap (ketchup etc.) have that extra wide tab on top so they can be pulled off easily and in one peice.

      3 Replies
      1. re: mrbigshotno.1

        AMEN. I hate the bottles that have a theoretically pullable seal, but really it's just a little extension of the seal all the way around the circumference, which means then i have to cut around the inner edge with a knife, which inevitably doesn't really work, so i'm left pulling the seal off in shards... you'd think they'd want you to get into their products easily, so you can hurry up and use it, and buy more! ...guess not.

        1. re: Emme

          I have just about given up trying to open those things by hand. My teeth however work quite well :D

          1. re: Popkin

            Teeth are effective for nearly any difficult packaging, save for jar lids and bottle caps! I can't stand the little foil seal inside the mouth of any sort of tetrapak-ed item like soy milk or chicken stock, those things are freakin' impossible to peel off in one piece, but luckily, you can just stick a butter knife through them, fold in the edges and be done.

      2. Have they started putting the fricking lids on jars with a power wrench. As we get older our hand strength is not what it used to be. I'm craving PB&J and panic sets in as I cannot get the lid off the jelly, jar opener slips, I bang it upside down on the floor, finally success about one second before I'm ready to smash it to bits.

        16 Replies
        1. re: BeefeaterRocks

          This is what I have to do especially with big lids, take an icepick and punch a tiny hole in the middle of the top of the lid, comes right off. If the hole bugs you put a little square of scotch tape over it. I had to start this with those big jars of artichoke hearts from costco and now damned near have to do it with everything. Like you say, as we get older.....

          1. re: mrbigshotno.1

            Thanks for the reminder, I used to know about that tip but somehow it got lost in all the minutiae rattling around in my brain. A little hole in the lid is better than a broken wrist or a mess all over the floor.

            1. re: BeefeaterRocks

              I got a little gadget at BBB that looks like a bottle opener--it gives you enough leverage to pry a jar lid up a bit and break the seal. Works great, cost all of $4.

              It works better than a regular bottle opener--seems to be easier to get under the lid.

            2. re: mrbigshotno.1

              I use the non-blade side of the butter knife and give the edge of the lid a couple of whacks. It places several dents and seems to break the seal. I also use one of those rubber grabbers to really get a grip. Arthritis is so much fun!

              1. re: KristieB

                That's what I've always done and it has never failed.

                1. re: BabsW

                  Me too. I rap the lid with the dull side of a butter knife, turning it as I go -- sometimes it takes many, many thwacks to get it to open easily, but it always works. I hate coffee packages that you have to pull apart with your thumbs - I just don't have the strength in my hands that I used to. I have to ask someone to help me, which is so embarrassing, or cut it with scissors which is annoying as that causes me to ruin the handy closer strip that is attached. For the inner seal of vitamins, etc. I use a knife to cut around the inside and pull off the pieces one by one. The worst though are things (often non-food items) that come in clear molded plastic which is glued to a piece of cardboard - things like staplers, locks, etc. Even with a sharp knife and scissors, it can take 5 minutes to get it open.

            3. re: BeefeaterRocks

              i find if i run it under hot water, it loosens the seal. sometimes i'll also run a fork around the edge of the lid, between the lid and the jar, to loosen the seal. both of these usually result in an open jar, but i've been there in the near tears frustration of being unable to open whatever jar i'm determined to delve into...

              1. re: Emme

                I use a manual bottle opener, place the pointy end just under the lid and lift slightly until I hear the lld pop. Then the lid unscrews easily. If I have trouble re opening a lid due to sticky rim, I run the jar, lid end up, under hot water a few secs.

                1. re: HillJ

                  I also use the can opener point, J. Works like a charm, everytime.

              2. re: BeefeaterRocks

                I for one am grateful for hard-to-open jars. Without them, my wife would have no use for me whatsoever.

                1. re: BeefeaterRocks

                  I had to bring a jar of damson plum preserves to work to ask one of the guys to open for me--and he struggled!

                  1. re: Parrotgal

                    I usually get jars open by popping the lid with an old church key beer opener - use the rounded end, get the little tab under the lid, and lever it just until you hear a pop. Banging the lid all around with the handle of a dinner knife sometimes works as does upending the jar and smacking the lid on a hard flat surface.

                    1. re: buttertart

                      A big fat rubber band around the stubborn top does wonders. They're cheap--or free--and everyone has them stashed somewhere.

                      1. re: Whosyerkitty

                        maybe i'm thick -- but how? i usually do the whack it on the hard surface, run it under hot water, then run a fork underneath the lip to release the seal...

                        1. re: Emme

                          Wrapping a rubber band around the lid gives you a better grip, as do the rubber discs made for jar-opening.

                          However, stubborn lids aren't bad packaging per se, nor are bags that can't be pulled open - we all KNOW we should cut open the bags of cereal and coffee so when we make a mess trying to tear them, it's our lazy fault - unlike the sharp and hard to cut plastic shells surrounding stuff like toothbrushes and compact fluorescent bulbs, or the overpackaging of convenience and single-serving foods. And the sharp edges of pulltop cans are inherently dangerous.

                  2. re: BeefeaterRocks

                    I wish I had a dime for every time my mother banged a jar on the floor to try to get it open. Main thing learned from her - don't bang it upside down, rap the lid sideways on the hard surface. Breaks the seal without smashing the glass jar. Although she and I both have smashed a few jars in our time!

                  3. The crackers and coffee beans would be easy with a pair of kitchen shears.

                    1. Those plastic pull ring tabs on milk or orange juice drive me crazy. It would be the Christmas miracle if I could pull one of those off without a spray of milk or orange juice spritzing my counters or arm.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: bluemoon4515

                        I hate those too. I have fat fingers and they don't fit in the ring, so my grip is tenuous at best.

                        And I hate them because they are unnecessary extra plastic. What's wrong with using the folded in spout like we used to??

                        1. re: bluemoon4515

                          Ah, but my cat loves to play them! Vacuuming them up isn't so great tho. :p