Dumbest packaging ever?
I understand the need for clean, sterile packaging of food. We live in an era (soon to be ending, mind you, if you believe the peak oil people) in which food travels great distances before it arrives in the massive grocery stores where we purchase it. It is true that frozen peas need to be placed in some kind of container for shipping, and a plastic bag or a thin carboard box are currently appropriate methods for keeping all those rolling green balls in a single package.
However, we'd be naive to think that our food is merely grown, harvested, processed and packaged. The agro-industrial complex is alive and functioning, and millions of dollars of research and thousands of man-hours go into determining the best packaging for, say, a can of beef stew.
I understand the business need to keep consumers interested in buying your products, but there's a side to the food marketing that really bugs the heck out of me. And that's the way in which the same food is repackaged in a novel way, and pitched to the consumer in such a way that makes it seem like we just HAVE to have it, when in fact:
- only actual difference is the packaging
- the packaging causes the food item to cost more
- the packaging is unbearably superfluous
Take Blueberry Blasters, which I saw recently at a local Safeway. One normal package of blueberries had been split up into four individual... well, servings, I guess. It's sort of hard to describe the containers used without giggling a bit. A plastic narrow cylinder about four inches tall is topped off by a big plastic blueberry that serves as the lid for the bottle. The cylinder has holes punched in it so that you can rinse the blueberries in the bottle without having to go to the trouble of removing them and washing them.
The cost of four of these oddly-phallic containers of blueberries rang in at around $7. Seven dollars??! This is the same weight and class of blueberries that come in less sexy plastic boxes, which cost between $2-4 (in season).
I can't, for the life of me, figure out why the current method used to prepare and eat blueberries is so arduous as to necessitate the repackaging of these fruits into lidded tubes for easier consumption. Which part is difficult? Is it removing the berries from the plastic box to wash them? Is it touching the berries directly with your fingers that turns people away from fruit?
What marketing bozo was sitting around one day and suddenly said to himself, "You know what's really hard to eat? Berries! If they only came in a sort of tube that I could use to pour them directly into my mouth...."
I was similarly irked by Gogurt a few years ago. I can understand similar packaging for frozen, drippy treats, like popsicles, but since when did raising a spoon from yogurt container to mouth get to be so difficult that we need to suck yogurt from a flexible tube? How long before we end up like the humans in Wall-E, crusing around on hovering scooter, too fat to walk, simply slurping our meals through a plastic straw?
And there's no actual blasting going on in Blueberry Blasters, unless I misunderstood the instructions for the containers. You're not (thankfully) able to use some sort of air gun to shoot blueberries across the room into someone's mouth. The blueberries themselves, while no doubt very tasty, don't explode in your mouth like Pop Rocks (again, thankfully). It's just a stupid alliteration that some poor copywriter was forced to come up with.
Besides being shocking waste of marketing and sales time and materials (how much plastic do you NEED to sell someone a few ounces of blueberries?), Blueberry Blasters are just another product in a long line of products that serve to remind you just how little time you have left to do anything. Feeling the pressure to work extra hours or more than one job so that you can afford your mortgage or health care? Carting kids around to a variety of sports and hobbies? Overstretched with volunteer activities? No time left to do things like allow produce to come into contact with your outer epidermal layer? Don't worry! We've created an even easier way to get your nutrients without performing tedious, time-consuming tasks like food-prep.
I can just envision a commercial touting this product as an "on-the-go" kind of snack, but really, aren't blueberries ALREADY an on-the-go kind of snack? I mean, the darn things have a skin that keeps all the insides neatly contained, are easily washed, don't require peeling or slicing or de-seeding - they're just about the most easily-eaten item in nature.
What's next? Pre-masticated bananas wrapped in plastic so we don't work our jaws too hard? IV drips for beer? Wait. Well, that one might actually be OK.
Of course, the stupidity of re-packing blueberries to make it more fun and appealing is that it doesn't actually save you any time. Pre-sliced apples almost make some kind of sense, even if the time saving is less than a minute, but blueberries? You still have to wash the blueberries before eating them, and you will still have to use one or more appendages to lift the container to your mouth. The only advantage to eating Blueberry Blasters is that you get to tip the berries into your mouth from a blue-tipped phallic tube. The shape of the container makes me wonder if the design wasn't the result of some kind of wager ("Dude, I'll bet you a six-pack of Alaskan Amber that you can't get a vaguely penile-like container through the design process without someone noticing" "Oh, yeah? You're on!"). Oh, and you get to pay more for the honor.
Listen, I'm not terrible busy in life; I've mostly limited my hobbies to drinking and napping. I don't have any children to care for, or a partner to worry about - so things are more or less easy for me. But even with all that ease, sometimes I feel too tired after a long day of work to make dinner from scratch, and prepared foods are a life-saver. But there's a point where I draw the line, and Blueberry Blasters stepped WAY over that line.
I keep Googling "Blueberry Blasters" to see if it's some kind of hoax created to get bloggers with too much time on their hands riled up over stupid packaging, but alas, I have found nothing. Has anyone else seen these little gems while shopping?
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