Neman: Hard-to-Open Packaging: Readers Respond | eating and cooking

I seem to have hit a nerve.

Two weeks ago I wrote a column about how difficult it can be to open tight jars and plastic bags. Then, to be perfectly honest, I kind of forgot.

But it turns out that me and the 89-year-old reader who first emailed me about her struggles were not alone in our narrow struggles. We weren’t alone at all.

“How about these greasy-fingered White Castle mustard packets?” Impossible!” wrote one reader.

“I had a bottle of Bufferin that I couldn’t open. I ended up putting it in a ziploc bag and securing my car over it. The ‘headache powders’ never helped my arthritis,” wrote another, and I decided to believe he meant it.

One reader has a problem with Listerine mouthwashes, which he calls “just really hard to open.” Then after it’s open and you close it, it’s still difficult when you want to open it next time.”

Two readers have problems with bags of grated cheese, and in my world two people with the same problem is almost a social movement. One woman wrote that her late father, Mike Smith, even wrote a poem about the difficulty of opening bags of shredded cheese. He called it “Packed Munster”.

People also read…

‘Tear along the dotted line.’

Once she found her father trying to open a bag of cheese with needle-nosed pliers, and he wasn’t the only one who went down the pliers’ route.

Another reader wrote, “I have a drawer in my kitchen with a few tools including a pair of channel lock pliers and a pair of very good sharp scissors that get more and more use as it ages.”

One reader said she used a hammer and nail to punch a hole in the lid. When she closes the jar again, she covers it with plastic wrap.

Even more alarmingly, one man has become so frustrated with the packaging of V8 juice that he has taken to opening it with a butcher knife.

One man, hopefully with a sense of humor, first recommended OXO can openers before adding, “Resealable packages are a communist scheme.”

A few people wrote to recommend colorful jar openers that look and work like bottle openers. A small pin will fit under the lip of the lid, while a blunt pin will fit slightly over the top of the lid. It’s a simple matter of pulling the opener far enough to release the pressure in the jar.

My column reminded another reader of an informal advertisement from 20 years or more ago for a product called Pyranna. It was a cutter to “easily open packages with that pesky hard plastic”.

It came wrapped in a hard plastic case. As one YouTube commenter pointed out, “It actually takes a pyranna to open a pyranna.”

Still, you can’t please everyone. A commenter on my column complained that I was complaining about first world issues.

“I just find the American victim mentality very tiring. It seems like as a society we can’t just be happy to have a high standard of living and we have to point out every difficulty as if we have the right never to have problems,” he wrote.

I bet he’ll change his mind when he gets arthritis.

Leave a Comment