On the list of man’s twenty-million greatest inventions, this ranked number 18,004,600. It’s called clam shell packaging. You know the kind. Hard plastic, pressure-wrapped around almost anything from thumb tacks to hair dryers. Without proper tools, it is virtually impossible to open within a reasonable amount of time without hurting yourself, or breaking into an uncontrollable sweat. Great minds have tried to figure out why such packaging is necessary. If it is to prevent theft, wouldn’t someone just steal the whole thing and open it later in a secluded cabin somewhere in the forest? If it is to keep people from “trying it out,” then how do they hope to sell very many? And, have you noticed, the receipt will say, “If returned, must be in original packaging.” Good luck with that. Then there’s the lighter weight version of this type of packaging which fastens with little snap together male-female parts on the edges of the packaging. Supermarkets use them to sell pies, cookies, salads, bear claws, or even day-old chicken wings. These are somewhat easier to open, but they can be firecracker noisy. This is a problem for late night snackers, like me. Here I am, lying in bed craving a blueberry muffin. I know there are still three left in the four-pack I bought earlier in the day. I creep into the kitchen, quietly tiptoeing across the hard tile floors through rooms with hard walls and hard ceilings. Like an echo chamber, this room is about as sound proof as a school cafeteria. I reach my treasure. There’s the plump muffin; staring at me with five blueberry eyes, deliciously soft and tasty, but it’s gazing at me through the plastic package. How do I quietly open this thing without waking everyone in the house, including the dog who’ll bark at any muffin, any time? Here goes. “POW! POP!” One more fastener to go. “BANG!” Louder than an old pickup truck backfiring. Then, a deafening silence is broken only by the escaping aroma of the muffins. I did it! No barking. No one’s been awakened – I guess. At this point, I have an idea. Next time I buy blueberry muffins, I will un-package them when no one’s around, popping the package open, putting each of the muffins in its own individual seal-tight plastic sandwich bag. So not to forget, I write a sticky note and put it on the handy little kitchen note holder, still in its sandwich bag where I put it after rescuing it from its original clam shell packaging.
Updated from original “Impossible Plastic Publishing” published 3/26/2016
Check out Bill Vancil’s new book “Almost an Addict” at almostanaddict.com