Why are new, packaged items so difficult to open? Is it a Johnson & Johnson conspiracy to sell more bandaids, is it another mean trick played on us olds, is it a result of Chinese interference? You shouldn’t have to watch a YouTube video to get to new batteries, ball point pens, tubes of ointment, and toothpaste. Frustration over hard-to-open, everyday household items, toys, and over-the-counter health aides has reached the point that the term “wrap rage” has been coined. There’s even a Consumer Reports’ “Oyster Award” for the most difficult package to open.
Trader Joe’s is at the top of my list of torturers: every box of crackers, bread crumbs, Jo Jos, or pasta is glued shut and once opened, stays open. Is their packaging department so sure that every consumer is a closet Gwyneth Paltrow carefully pouring the contents of each box or bag into a Goop-approved glass jar or ethically-woven artisan basket? Every poly food bag, whether it’s salad, elbow macaroni, or cheese, requires scissors to open, then rips down the side with no chance for another seal. Now there may be exceptions, but on the whole, after a trip to TJs, get out a sharp knife, scissors, large zip-lock bags, and Neosporin.
First thing this morning I had to open a new bottle of eye drops—I was still sleepy, only a few sips of coffee, dim morning light. The top of the small container was completely and tightly enclosed with plastic: no tear tab, no dotted line, no users’ manual. It took a pair of sharp, pointed embroidery scissors and needle nose pliers to get to the contents. And what about those convenient-to-appropriate condiment packets marked “Tear here,” are you kidding?
Opening a new Costco-sized bottle of Tylenol always requires a sheepish trip to the Sweetie, offender in outstretched hand. Even dope has become impossible to use. Last week I bought a bottle of CBD tincture which even the Sweetie gave up on. I took the bottle to my neighbor who finally got it open using a bench vise grip, a pair of metal snips, and a razor blade. And vape refill packages—is Nancy Reagan using those plastic/cardboard vaults to just say no?
The gouge on my left hand has healed after stabbing myself with a steak knife trying to open a round box of (no surprise here) Trader Joe’s salt. I’m not kidding, it took four trips to the garage to get a skill saw, a screwdriver (had to go back twice because a Phillips wouldn’t work), and a pair of pliers to get the firmly caked, immoveable sea salt out of the box.
Let’s not even talk about those made-in-hell, clamshells packs that trap Barbies, earphones and electronic devices. They require power tools to open and are certain to draw blood. And here’s a shout-out to Starbucks. Is it possible with all your R & D, your corporate savvy, and your marketing budget to invent a bag that human hands can actually pull apart with a shred of hope that it will open and close again without spilling beans on the floor?
Anyways, I feel better now but in the future, I plan on buying everything in bulk, especially eye drops.
Here’s a recipe that doesn’t require opening a box, bag, or clamshelled package.
Three cup chicken
- 3 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 2-to-3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced into coins, approximately 12
- 12 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 4 whole scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 dried red peppers or 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
- 2 pounds chicken thighs, boneless or bone-in, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 tablespoon unrefined or light brown sugar
- ½ cup rice wine
- ¼ cup light soy sauce
- 2 cups fresh Thai basil leaves or regular basil leaves
Heat a wok over high heat and add 2 tablespoons sesame oil. When the oil shimmers, add the ginger, garlic, scallions and peppers, and cook until fragrant, approximately 2 minutes.
Scrape the aromatics to the sides of the wok, add remaining oil and allow to heat through. Add the chicken, and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is browned and crisping at the edges, approximately 5 to 7 minutes.
Add sugar and stir to combine, then add the rice wine and soy sauce, and bring just to a boil. Lower the heat, then simmer until the sauce has reduced and started to thicken, approximately 15 minutes.
Turn off the heat, add the basil and stir to combine. Serve with white rice.