The 10 Most Annoying Food Packaging Quirks

published Jun 25, 2015
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(Image credit: Christine Gallary)

Food-packaging technology is part of what ensures the food we buy stays intact during the shipping, shelving, and shopping that needs to happen before we bring it home from the store. For the most part, packaging is fairly effective — even ingenious. However, there are some foods that are packaged in ways that make me shake my fist in frustration: “Why, oh why, do they make it so hard?”

Come on, I know you feel me here. Here are the 10 food-packaging quirks that drive us up the wall and make us ask, “Isn’t there a better way to design this?”

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

10 Food Packaging Quirks That Drive Us Crazy

1. The plastic film on sour cream or other similar dairy products.

While that thin film of plastic on sour cream or cottage cheese is probably there as protection in case you drop the tub, I hate trying to pry it off. Most times there isn’t a tab or the tab just doesn’t work, so I end up taking a knife or scissors and awkwardly stabbing through it somewhere. Even once I wiggle a finger into the opening I’ve created, I never seem to be able to take the film off in one go, and there’s always some leftover piece dangling into the container. Sigh. I just wanted a dollop of sour cream!

2. Shrink-wrapped English cucumbers.

Long English cucumbers can sometimes be too long to fit into a produce bag, so I do appreciate that they’re individually shrink wrapped. What I don’t appreciate, however, is how hard it is to pull that shrink wrap off. I usually chop off the tip of the cucumber to break the seal, but the shrink wrap is still so stuck on there that I’m slowly picking plastic off for way too long.

3. Shaker caps on bottles of cinnamon sticks.

Yup, shaker caps for cinnamon sticks. Not much more to say here.

(Image credit: Anjali Prasertong)

4. The foil film on individual cups of fruit or yogurt.

One of Executive Editor Faith Durand’s biggest pet peeves is, “When you open a cup of yogurt or fruit and peel back the film and it squirts at you.” When I’m bleary-eyed in the morning and just want to open my cup of yogurt, the last thing I need is splashback. #noyogurtsplashbackplease

5. Scary tubes of refrigerator biscuits.

Trying to open a tube of refrigerator biscuits first involves peeling the right part of the label away. More times than not, I fail at this and end up shredding the baking instructions. Then I stand there, heart pounding, while I nervously poke where the arrows indicate to pop open the can, which may happen gently or explosively. This kitchen version of “Pop Goes the Weasel”? Not welcome.

6. Shrink-wrapped soft goat cheese.

I’m not sure why soft, squishy goat cheese has to be shrink-wrapped — it just doesn’t make sense. Even when opened straight out of the refrigerator when it’s cold, it’s hard to cut through the packaging without getting the cheese all over your knife or scissors, and you can never seem to get every little bit off the plastic. How about taking a cue from your cream cheese cousin and trying some foil packaging instead?

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

7. The foil seals or tabs on Nutella or nut butters.

Nutella may be the world’s perfect food to some, but it’s definitely not the most perfect food to open. When I want Nutella or peanut butter, I want it now, so please don’t make me have to awkwardly pick at the foil seal first to get at the goodness that’s underneath.

8. The world’s tiniest sliver of tape on brown sugar boxes.

After I open a box of brown sugar, I’m always reminded of why I probably should’ve just splurged on the larger resealable bag instead. The sliver of colorful tape that’s supposed to help keep the bag closed and the brown sugar soft does nothing. Absolutely nothing. It feels like I’m using a Band-Aid to stop up a leaky pipe.

(Image credit: Christine Gallary)

9. Paper bags of flour.

I have a nice countertop canister for my flour, but I hate refilling it. Why? Because it means that I have to carefully and slowly unfold the top of the bag of flour and gently pry the seal apart without ripping the sides of the bag. The times I’ve done this successfully without getting flour all over my counter? Zero — even though I’m strangely optimistic that I can do it neatly each time.

10. Stickers on produce that won’t come off.

You know, the annoying sticker on that delicate tomato or peach that just won’t come off. I hate that I end up digging around it with my fingernail to pry it off, usually leaving the produce bruised or damaged and adhesive all over my fingers.

What’s even more annoying than this? Production Editor Lauren Kodiak sums it up perfectly: “Especially after you wash produce and forget to take off the sticker and then it’s all gummy.”

What food packaging pet peeves do you have? We’d love to hear them!