Friday, June 04, 2010

Dear PepsiCo:

I have two complaints regarding your 12-can "Fridge Paks" or, more precisely, the packaging thereof:

1) The combination of kevlar-reinforced cardboard and rather unenthusiastically-exectued perforations mean that the package is only about one percent more likely to "tear along dotted line" than at some random angle across the box.

2) Perhaps the engineer in charge of the design of the box was available cheap, due to his degree being from a third rate school on some Caribbean island whose only other export is novelty postage stamps, but someone should take him aside and explain the concept of "stress risers" to him. Having the perforations for the opening travel vertically downward for about two-thirds of the box before making a sudden, 90° turn to the front means that, when the kevlar-reinforced cardboard finally starts to give and the tear proceeds downward, it is going to ignore the suggested turn and continue straight down, leaving the (now very unhappy) customer with the whole front of the box in her hand and cans of Code Red Diet Dew bouncing off her toes.


If we could attend to these deficiencies, please, I'd be ever so.

Thx.

38 comments:

Jeff said...

Is there ANY good packaging these days?

OA said...

I would imagine the perforations are useless so they don't open during transport or whilst being unloaded in the store.

Anonymous said...

Dear god. Packaging.

Most good packaging is designed to prevent theft these days. notgto assist the user.

I got some hard drives and other electronic gear the other day, and even with a sharp knife, and being a large man willing to apply copious amounts of torque and see-red rage I was starting to loose the fight.


I will forbear to discuss floofy packing materials like the peannuts and schredded somethings. The devils work.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

I'd also like to make a note to Kroger (and most grocery stores I've been in) about those same fridge packs, for all brands. When you place the perforated handle on the side like you always do, the customer has to try to turn the box right-side-up before lifting it off the shelf - something made more difficult if it's at the top of the stack with only a few inches of clearance to the shelf above it, or if the customer has other groceries in one hand. If the customer simply grabs the handle without turning it and without supporting it with the other hand, the box will tear, possibly spilling an entire 12-pack into the aisle, because the box isn't designed to be supported that way.

Alternatively, if you stack them with the handles on the top, the customer can simply grab it and continue shopping. Simple, no?

Midwest Chick said...

Not to mention that you have to either have the fingernails of Fu Manchu or a multi-tool to actually begin to make your way through the perforations. I'm starting to just take scissors to it.

Kristopher said...

Anon: Use tin snips on blister packs, it's the only way to be sure.

Bram said...

Jeff,

I bought some B&W speakers last year. I have never been so impressed by packaging. I've seen less solid and secure gun cases.

Nathan said...

In my opinion, the problem is not the packaging design, but the maintenance of the machine that makes the perforations.

Sometimes they work perfectly.

Other times it's like the perfing machine just sort of glided over the box and gave it a lick and a promise.

If the guys running setup and maintenance on the perfing machines would do their jobs, the experience might be more consistent. Of course I'm sure they're union and couldn't care less.

Tam said...

Nathan,

Even if the perforations were perfect, Coke's design (with a shallow angle running towards the front of the carton) is infinitely better than Pepsi's 90-degree turn. If a layperson like me can spot that, what kind of reject designed it?

og said...

Coke's packaging design is patented. The "stress riser" package is a work around to avoid patent infringement.

I liked the old packages that had a space for a single can to pop out. That way you could open the 12 without actually taking a can, something you cannot do with the new 12s.

Blackwing1 said...

There's an old SF short story by Ted Sturgeon that riffed on the old "toiler paper never tears at the perforations" theme. His take on it was that removing the material to make the perforations must have made it stronger, therefore (in a masterpiece of reductio ad absurdum) a material consisting of NOTHING AT ALL must be infinitely strong.

mdrewrankin said...

Hey, just be glad that engineer isn't working with blued steel instead of cardboard...

Stretch said...

Jake: The cases are stacked at the store with the cans vertical for support. That put the handle to the side. And the handle has to be aligned with the side of the cans so the flaps can fold in. (Damn, I really did learn something at that design class!)
Tam: QC sucks with all bottlers (caners?) of soda. In past few years I've had 12 packs rupture, cans blow and in at least 3 instances found empty but sealed cans in the case.

Anonymous said...

I was all prepared to accuse you of treason for the purchase of the Chitown product as opposed to the homegrown, with a little nannynannyboobooyougetwhatyoudeserve taunt thrown in. Never has a product begged for territorialism more than in the soft drink wars.

But then you bring up the results of your product research yourself in comments.

And the superiority of the packaging is just prelude to the superiority of the product (maybe I'm being slightly subjective as to the latter).

mdrewrankin: the engineer was on loan from the MIM division of S&W.

AT

Nathan said...

I dunno, Tam. The Pepsi ones tend to work fine for me if the perfs are deep enough.

Coke is a bad word in this house, so I guess I won't ever know the difference :)

Darrell said...

Tam's a Pepsi fiend? I had no idea. :S

Tam said...

Tam's a Diet Dew or Vault Zero fiend, depending on what's on sale that week. ;)

CTone said...

The cartons sound better than the ones for Zazz (yes, I drink seltzer). Virtually every carton pops open - usually in the driveway - while carrying them to or from the car. This is because the genius engineers determined the absolute minimum amount of glue required to keep the box closed while it sits on a shelf.

theirritablearchitect said...

AdultProof Packaging™ really pisses me off.

Can't get into anything these days without a pair of Kevlar gloves, face shield and cutoff wheel.

Timmeehh said...

We've got this new thing in Kanuckistan that could help you Tam.

We call it The Knife.

Void in the UK.

Tam said...

Yes, but I shouldn't have to whip out my pocket tacticool folder to deal with a 12-pack of soda.

Will said...

Stretch,
the wall thickness of the cans was reduced by about 1/3(!) a while back. They are VERY fragile now. Don't leave cans laying on the floor of your car anymore, as bad things WILL occur.

ravenshrike said...

Whack top of perforation with stiff fingers to penetrate perforation. Tear to the edges along the top, then press in on the front between the cans and bend the perforated area back. Do not actually remove. A bit messier aesthetically, but what can you do.

Joe in PNG said...

Here in the third world, our bulk sodas packs come in real cardboard boxes without any of that preforation nonsense.
And the non-diet drinks are made with real sugar.
Yep, our roads may be falling apart, and corruption rampant, but our sodas rock!

WV: unfriz- when the front of your fridgepack tears off and shoots cans all over the floor.

Bubblehead Les said...

Coffee, drink Coffee, come to the Dark Side, Luke, join your Father and drink Coffee. All kidding aside, Tam, watch your 6 while biking. 3 bicyclists were run over last night in San Fran in different parts of the city, and I'm sure they'll be a copycat somewhere. You'll probably have to dig the story out of one of the Leftist Coasts newsrags for details, but watch your 6!

Montie said...

Stretch,

Jake's right. At the depth to which they are stacked on the shelf of my local Reasor's (the Tulsa, OK equivalent of Kroger's), it shouldn't be necessary to turn the cans vertical for support, it's just another way to aggravate the consumer.

Tam,

I have given up on trying to open Pepsico 12-packs at the provided opening. I just rip 'em open at the handle slot, pull out the cans and stand them up in the fridge. For some inexplicable reason, I derive a certain sense of satisfaction at tearing the carton open at a spot it was not designed for, since using the "convenient perforated flap" ends up annoying me when I get the same result you do.

BTW, I'm a Diet Dew / Diet DP guy, having never tried Vault, is it a Dew clone?

Anonymous said...

Tam:

Here in the Enlightened Empire of Texas, the fridge packs that contain my addiction to the One True Nectar Bestowed By The Gods--Diet Pepsi Wild Cherry--come with the perf angled toward the front; generally it rips off with no great difficulty.

Midwest Chick:

Nature blessed me with thumbnails that have the strength of hawk's talons. I sometimes, when I have let them grow a bit, use them as screwdrivers when I am too lazy to go get the real thing--which is most of the time. Ripping the perfs is kid's play.

cap'n chumbucket

Tam said...

Montie,

The tagline is "Drinks like a Soda, Kicks like an Energy Drink."

The taste is something of a mutant offspring of Mountain Dew and 7-Up.

Anonymous said...

Y'know, Tam, our forecritters invented tools for a reason. Just sayin'.

Montie said...

Tam,

Hmmm, might have to give that a try next time Coke products are on sale here (they alternate between Pepsi and Coke products weekly in the T-town area).

Anon,

Then Pepsico should label the perf. lines as "cut here". The only problem with that is that the aluminum cans are not as puncture resistant as the cardboard container (obviously due to the kevlar reinforcement Pepsico fiendishly incorporated into the cardboard, not so much for protection of the contents as for entertainment of the packaging engineers when they sit around, laughing to themselves, as they imagine Tam trying to access her next fix of Code Red Diet Dew).

Anonymous said...

Tam,

When the CEO of Pepsi calls you, tell him I am still looking for that Pepsi with the real sugar that they spent a gazillion dollars advertising but was nowhere to be found in this part of Texas. Take care,

Tom from Lake McQueeney

Anonymous said...

Dr. Pepper made with real sugar,in glass bottles, shipped to your door from Texas.

Timmeehh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Timmeehh said...

"Yes, but I shouldn't have to whip out my pocket tacticool folder to deal with a 12-pack of soda."

Tam, you should be GRATEFUL for the opportunity ;)

It is a practical demonstration of your FREEDOM!!! Or at least it proves you're less enslaved than the Brits.

reflectoscope said...

What Timmeehh said. Perhaps Stanley can come up with something along the lines of the Fubar for cracking these things open, then there really would be a tool for everything.

Jim

RM1(SS) (ret) said...

I don't even bother with the perforations - I just tear the flaps open like I would any other cardboard box, then set it down with the tins upright. (Or, since I normally don't bother refrigerating my sodas, just stand the box in a corner.)

B_L said...

Use the pre-colombian method. Prtending the dewbox is a sacrificial human torso, thrust your fingertips into the dotted line with maximum oomph. Then seize a handfull of the cardboard like the heart of said sacrificial victim, and rip outwards smartly.

Just the handfull of cardboard will rip away, leaving the end of the box capable of holding in the guts/cans.

Works for me.:D

Sigivald said...

Those things are horrible, because you can't stack them or stack things ON them.

I use two of these (or something just like them). Lets you stack two packs, or even mix.