Why it Takes Scissors to Open Scissors


Packages are getting harder to open these days. Although some companies have made their packages easier, like Aleve’s Easy-Open Red Arthritis Cap, others have made their packages harder to open. As unbelievable as it sounds, companies still do it, but for a different reason. According to most companies, the item is more protected than it was previously. This “extra protection” makes the packages harder to open.

Let’s start with children’s toys. They seem to be the hardest packages in the world to open. Companies want to make toys so little children can play with it before their parents decide to buy it. In order to do this, companies must partially expose the toy, so kids can press the many buttons on a Fisher-Price Cash Register or tickle the belly of Elmo. Partially exposing the toy means that it must be secured to some other part of the package. That part? The back. Anyone who has ever opened a children’s toy will know: you can lose a few digits in the process. First comes the tape on the top of the package. Scissors are required to slice this tape. After the glued-on flap is pulled back, the toy must be removed from the box. Depending on what toy it is, it may have a cardboard back or it may be surrounded on three sides by cardboard. In order to remove the cardboard from the toy, zip ties, twist-ties, or metal prongs must be cut, twisted, or peeled. Zip ties require scissors; twist-ties are a pain in the neck; and metal prongs are impossible. After meticulously removing the ties or prongs, and snipping the zip ties that bind the toy to the cardboard, all while being careful not to destroy the toy, you are finally able to let your child play with the toy.

Why do companies make children’s toys the hardest to open? Who knows? Does the company think a two-year old will break into Toys-R-Us? Are they worried the toys will come alive, like in Toy Story?

It’s not just children’s toys, though. To open a glued flap on Barilla Pasta is to move Mt. Everest. Unlike most flaps that peel easily, Barilla’s flap is glued on so tightly that, when peeled, that piece of the flap rips off. The result is this: you now have many little pieces of the flap, instead of one big flap like cereal. In the case of cereal, with one slide of the finger under the flap, the flap pops open. With Barilla’s tough way to open the box, the entire box must be used. Unless, of course, you have a covering for the box?

Lysol Disinfecting Wipes are not difficult to open, however, if the wipes fail to thread through the “cap lid”, it is rather tough to pull the string of wipes through again, as the edge of the wipes is hard to find. The lid must be removed from the top of the canister, and the wipes threaded through from under the lid before replacing the lid on the canister.

Heinz Ketchup is another frustrating product. The plastic bottles, not glass, have a security tab on the rim of the bottle. Not so hard, right? Wrong. When the lid is replaced, and the consumer begins to squirt, nothing comes out. Why? Further inspection of the bottle is warranted. A clear plastic that is barely visible blocks the ketchup from squirting onto a tasty burger or hot dog. A knife is also required to remove this annoying piece of plastic. Does Heinz think that tomatoes will break into the bottles, seeking revenge for the smashing of their siblings?

As a final example, Sparkle Paper Towels are another hard to open package. The outer plastic that seems so easy to rip is actually glued to the cardboard tubes inside the paper towel rolls. In addition, the plastic has doubled on itself in some places, making the ripping a little bit harder.

Although its package is not hard to open, Berkley & Jensen’s Cooking Spray apparently deteriorates over time. After approximately 20 sprays, or two weeks if used 4 times a week, the aerosol can begins to leak from an unknown location, causing the can to slip from the consumer’s hand, making a mess. The consumer’s hand also becomes slimy and sticky. Here Comes the Shrink contacted BJ’s about the issue. We are still waiting for a response.


4 thoughts on “Why it Takes Scissors to Open Scissors

  1. Peter Baldwin says:

    Yes and it is always me who has to open all those toy packages for the grandchildren. I would hope they would be more considerate of us older folks whose hands are well worn. Thanks Jared for bringing this out.


    • Peter- You make a good point. Packages, not just children’s boxes, should be easier to open. Aleve’s Easy-Open Red Arthritis Cap is a good example of easy packaging (though not child-proof) and I hope that many companies will follow suit.


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