Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Packaging - Good, Bad, Ugly (Tofu, Bagels, Raisins, Dates)

There is a wide variety of terrible packaging - the worst offender being all the unnecessary plastic garbage that's so difficult to open and mostly just gets thrown away.  I've only picked four items for this post, I'm sure you can pick hundreds more.

We'll start with The Ugly.

Tofu containers.  Terrible!

These are so, so bad.  They're packed with water, which tofu needs.  But they're sealed with the water bulging over the top of the tofu.  So full that once you open them, the tofu is so high in the container, that you can't keep it under water without spilling it - to, from, or in the refrigerator.  If they made the container just a little higher than the tofu, it would make more sense.  There's a better a better way to package tofu waiting to be discovered. 

Costco bagels.  Do the people that designed this ever open Costco bagels?  Do the people at Costco who make these decisions ever open them?

The bagels are in a plastic bag which is sealed with a piece of scotch tape like stuff.  When the sealing machine works right, it says to tear the two ends apart and it opens.  But usually, like in this one (which is already opened) the tape isn't on right and there is only one way to open it - tear the bag open.  And even when the seal is on right, the tape isn't good for resealing.  Even though this picture is focused on the tape, you can't even see it.

The Bad

These raisins used to be in zip lock bags.  That was pretty good.  But they dropped that and added a piece of red tape to reseal the bags.

In theory this could work, but after resealing once or twice, the adhesive gets lazy.  And since there are two pounds of raisins in the bag, you're going to have to reseal it a lot more than once or twice.

The Good

This is an old tray that was used originally to pack California dates.  A cellophane like material covered the dates.  We have two of these trays.  They have to be at least 50 years old - they were in my father's things.

This is great packaging that gets reused over and over again.  I thought about doing this post this morning when I was preparing breakfast for my wife who was slow getting up today.

I'm sure these are from the 1960s or 1950s.  When I looked to see if there was anything on California Date Palm packaging, I found someone offering a tray like this one (well, the etching looked less worn) for $14.99!

What packaging do we see today that will be used so well for 50 years and then be for sale for more than the cost of the product itself?

[I don't know how long Ebay pages are available, but I linked the picture to Ebay if someone wants to buy one.]

And while I was looking up the trays, I found this information about dates from J&J Distributors:
The date is one of the oldest tree crops - records go back over 5,000 years.
Nomads and people of the desert from the Middle East and North Africa consumed dates for survival, and royalty for many generations (dates were considered a delicacy) served this terrific fruit. Spanish missionaries introduced dates to the West in the 18th and 19th centuries, and some of the original palms can still be found in Southern California and Mexico.
The Medjool variety is considered the gourmet of the date family - originating in Morocco, it arrived in the US in 1927. Eleven immature palms were given to the US by the Chariff of Morocco - this was an attempt to save the Medjools that were threatened by disease there. The eleven palms were quarantined for seven years in Nevada, and the nine that survived were relocated to Southern California. Note: the Medjool date is the only date that is harvested fresh and eaten fresh, and is the most labor intensive date to grow and harvest.
Dates provide energy in the form of natural invert sugars - important for those who cannot tolerate sucrose - Medjools have an above average invert sugar content. Date palms flourish in dry heat and minimal rain, and do very well in the Bard Valley of California where the Colorado and Gila rivers allow abundant irrigation for their root structure - 70% of the Medjool dates in the US are produced in the Bard Valley.
The date palm (Phoenix Dactylifera) is known as the tree of life, and there are approximately 22 million palms in Iraq today where approximately 600,000 tons of dates are produced annually.


  1. Hello. Just found your blog via Immoral Minority.
    Just my kind of blog -- an every day peek into somebody else's
    "ordinary" day, someone else who is glad to be alive and still curious after all these years.

    Very much like the mix of content: absurd and instructive. Kuddos!

    I know I will enjoy looking through older posts.
    Bye for now.

  2. Barbara, welcome and thanks for the kind comments. I especially like people of think of absurd as a positive attribute. (You did mean it that way, didn't you?)

  3. Absolutely.

    But I might have been thinking that the common sense of packaging seems to allude some designers, which is absurd! (laughingly foolish, but still highly irritating).

    My sister and I spent many months this year sorting through both of our parents' end-of-life details and found there were not only the so-called 7 Stages of Grief, but
    77 Stages of Frustration. When one of the bureaucratic nightmares reared its head, we would just pick a number -- Ah, #36 -- and laugh and shrug. It got us quickly beyond raging against the system.

    Life is absurd. That's why the Buddha giggles.

    And, glad to be aboard. You site made my day!


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