Dilemma: If I could unwrap this thing, I could use it to rip its packaging.
Packaging that is difficult or excessive is a huge pet peeve. My most maddening: ketchup packets. Nearly impossible to tear without teeth, they also are messy and stingy.
Truthfully, I struggle to open a lot of products these days. The older (weaker) we get, the harder it becomes. For seniors, upper body strengthening exercises are necessary not only to pull ourselves off the floor should we fall, but also to tear into tough clamshells and other types of plastic and cardboard packaging.
There’s a name for that frustration: wrap rage.
According to Wikipedia, “wrap rage is the common name for heightened levels of anger and frustration resulting from the inability to open hard-to-open packing, particularly some heat-sealed plastic blister packs and clamshells. Consumers suffer thousands of injuries per year, such as cut fingers and sprained wrists, from tools used to open packages and from packaging itself, and in some cases damage the items they are trying to free from packaging.”
“And please, will you open it for me?” I asked the clerk when I recently purchased a new picture card for my camera. Never mind that the card measures less than an inch square and came in a rigid plastic package that was every bit of 8 by 6 inches, the clamshell casing required far more than my bare fingers to peel apart. It looked similar to this, a challenge even with scissors, right?
Think I’m kidding? The Web site wikiHow posted five step-by-step methods to open a clamshell. They require such tools as a rotary can opener, knife, box cutter, scissors and tin snip. See for yourself:
Toy packaging is no fun
Oh, and toys! Especially dolls. In high school I worked part time during the holiday season at a toy store, where dolls sat on shelves to be admired and touched by customers. Today most dolls come in boxes with their heads so grotesquely secured to the packaging that the unwrapping is a ritual more fitting for Halloween night than Christmas morning. Twist ties are the easy ones. I’ve watched my son use tools to unscrew bolts from boards to free wires that strangled necks of baby dolls that my granddaughter patiently waited to play with.
In 2006, Consumer Reports started the Oyster Award for difficult packaging. Mental Floss, a magazine that humorously presents facts and trivia, reported that second place that year “went to American Idol Barbie’s packaging, which took 15 minutes and 10 seconds for untwisting wires, snapping rubber bands, stripping tape, slicing thick plastic manacles off her arms and torso, cutting off a tab embedded in her head, and carefully ripping a series of stitches securing her tresses to a plastic strip on the back of the box.” Photo accompanying that story:
Even much less intricate packaging can be perplexing. Before I retired, I kept an exacto knife in my pencil holder at work (which was probably illegal in government and medical buildings) to slit open new packets of post-it notes and office supply delivery cartons, which frequently contained just a company catalog. Again: Arrrggh!
Shoes, too. The first person to open a box at a self-serve shoe store gets to unroll tissue paper only to find wads more inside the shoe, snugly stuffed against molded plastic forms secured by stapled cardboard straps. Why? That can’t be economical.
Yes, I realize, the purpose of solid, secure packaging is to protect goods and discourage theft. If only it weren’t so confounding for consumers. The remaining mom and pop hardware stores where customers can pick the number of nails they actually need from a wooden bin are throwbacks to more simple and honest times. At most of today’s megastores if you need one nail, too bad … gotta buy at least a pack of five.
Not to mention the environment. To be honest, I intended this post to be a whine, not a rant. But from someone who keeps a supermarket wine tote in her car to recycle a friend’s (no names) wine bottles and delights in the loud dumps of the recycle truck in her neighborhood, I would be remiss not to SCREAM that packaging accounts for 30 percent of America’s trash.