Product packaging hell

I should be awarded a Purple Heart for the battle wounds I've sustained over the years thanks to the handiwork of American product packaging designers.

I'll bet my fingers and hands carry more scars caused by more hermetically-sealed packages than there are stars in the heavens.

Crest mouthwash and toothpaste packages have inflicted the most damage, followed closely by multi-sized groupings of Dove Soap.

But, the dark prince of product packaging has to be the guy who designed the cup containing my daily allotment of fruit.


I'll bet it takes me three to four minutes every day to figure out a way to pry open the lid. It's impossible to attack from the front or rear. So, I slowly try to ease my pinky finger into a small side air pocket the dastardly designer overlooked. It's a flanking maneuver worthy of the Duke of Wellington.

I've disrupted countless Peppercomm meetings by cursing at the fruit box, banging it against the table, breaking plastic knives and forks in a vain attempt to pry open its contents and, yes, Virginia, even drawing blood from the eventually successful, but badly battered, right pinky finger.

I understand the need to prevent product tampering and keep American consumers safe, but packaging designers could outwit the most fiendishly diabolical Al Qaeda attack. My fruit cup makes Fort Knox seem like an easy access point of entry.

So, why must we resort to chain cutters, blow torches and machetes to open a plastic thingamajig containing nothing more potent than cherry-flavored mouthwash?

What possesses product packagers to make it so impossible to open toothpaste, soap, mouthwash, fruit and other items? I think I know the answer.

I think these guys (and they have to be men. Women would never be so sadistic) create competitions within their field to see who can create the most impregnable product AND inflict the most casualties on unsuspecting consumers. I'll bet they even have their own version of the SABER Awards featuring such categories as:

– Most scratches caused by a product retailing for $1, or less
– Most hospital visits caused by an artery severed while attempting to open a multi-product package
– Most time spent opening a package retailing for $5, or more.

I'm fascinated that more people don't complain about impossible-to-open product packaging (unless, of course, they're being paid to keep silent by The Band-Aid Association of America, or BAAA if you prefer. Those trade groups are unbelievably powerful).

12 thoughts on “Product packaging hell

  1. That’s so nice of them. I hope they are talking about the good things haha! Please say hi! I’m working on couple different projects. So happy to connect with you on Linkedin!

  2. Thanks so much, Wee. What are you up to these days? Deb Brown and Ann Barlow still speak about you all the time.

  3. Great advice, Joe. Thanks. As for Johnny Rocket, he simply blasts his way through anything. He’s the Superman of packaging.

  4. Pretty much every container foils my attempts at opening it. I’m especially fond of the pop-tops that break right after being pulled (with the mouth of the can still being sealed tight). That’s fun.

  5. You’re always so thoughtful, Ruth. Thanks. Maybe it’s a guy thing. Do you find yourself easily opening some of the plastic items described in the blog?

  6. Hi Repman:
    Maybe you should try some delicious Brookside antioxidant fruit flavors such as Goji, Pomegranate and Blueberry enrobed in delicious dark chocolate.
    Easy open and resealable packaging which is recyclable.
    It could be a tasty option.
    It’s a good thing your friend Johnny Rocket does have issues getting his cold ones open!

  7. Potential solution: Cut your own fruit every AM like I do for the kid?

  8. I do fine with what you described, but I struggle with child-proof medicine containers. Perhaps, it’s because I don’t have children to open them for me!

  9. You’re always so thoughtful, Ruth. Thanks. Maybe it’s a guy thing. Do you find yourself easily opening some of the plastic items described in the blog?

  10. Being involved with health & wellness issues, I’m very glad to see your persistence. It’s important to eat fresh fruit every day! I’ll bring a box of band aids to the next CofC meeting…that is if you aren’t being hospitalized for losing the fight with your toothpaste package!

  11. Haha! Love the picture. You have a really great point Steven! I’m so going to share this, especially for my packaging designer friends.