Blister packs – my fury

There is a famous bit of television regarding a cardboard milk carton. An executive from the company that made them, agreed to come into the television studio to demonstrate how easy they were to open. This was as a result of countless people complaining they found them difficult to open without spilling the contents.

If you know the piece of film I am referring to you will be chuckling already. If you don’t know the piece of film, you will be chuckling already because you will be anticipating the result. Sure enough the executive made a right hash of it and spilt milk onto the table – just like everyone else had complained about. This told a lot about the executive

  • he didn’t bother to research his subject matter
  • he clearly got his milk in glass bottles or it was provided for him in easy pour jugs by servants, as he was totally inexperienced in the practicalities of his own product.
  • This is a classic case of compartmentalised design. It was the manufacturers job to produce a convenient (for the supermarket) package for liquids as cheaply as possible. What happens after that is not their problem.

    This is not new. The can opener was invented years after the invention of the can.

    The same is true today of blister packs. I can see we’re going to have to invite an executive from the plastics industry into the television studio…

    Here is my complaint. I bought an expensive tooth brush recently which was neatly packaged in a see through blister pack.

    Now some blister packs have a seal at the back which can be prised open using only nails and fingers to reveal what is in effect a lid, with easy access to the contents. I don’t have an issue with them. But this one encasing the tooth brush had no such easy access. Maybe it was a security issue, or maybe it was just an economy measure, at any rate I was going to need power tools to get into this plastic sarcophagus.

    I used to have a joke about buying a Swiss army knife that came in a blister pack. You needed a Swiss army knife to get into it.

    I did in fact attack it with a Stanley knife. This was difficult and dangerous both for me and the contents of the package as the packaging was uneven in its surfaces and tough to cut. The knife was in danger of slipping onto my finger or damaging the surface of the brush.

    Eventually I managed to hack a jagged childlike incision around the product, which allowed me to prize apart the sharp edged plastic, nearly cutting my fingers, and wrench out the precious brush. I’ll bet everyone who reads this knows exactly what I’m talking about.

    I was incensed. What sort of manufacturer produces a product in this day and age that has no recognised standard solution at the other end? That is like discovering a wonderfully cheap source of energy but ignoring the unfortunate drawback of the toxic waste it produces and for which there is no recognised standard way of disposal. Oh wait a minute, that’s the nuclear industry.

    Hmm. Maybe they used this same design team to develop blister packs.

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