Watch out - it's not as easy as the packaging says

Friday, March 30, 2012

There are many things that frighten me: the sound of gunshots in my neighborhood, for example. In MY neighborhood. Or hearing strange noises in the night and awakening to find someone is trying to break the kitchen window.

Yes, that scares me.

But just a chilling, in their own ways, are certain words.

"Easy-open package."

"Simple instructions."

"Some assembly required."

The last time I assembled anything I ran into a basic problem. The instructions called for gluing certain joints in a lamp table stained to look like dark oak but made in China out of some cheap wood harvested in the U.S., shipped across the Pacific, manufactured into pieces parts resembling a table, shipped back across the Pacific and FedEx-ed to my house cheaper than an American maker of lamp tables could provide the same "some easy assembly required" product.

Go figure.

The problem I had with the table assembly was the glue. There was none included with the table parts. I checked the parts list twice, three times. In addition to screws and pegs and bolts and nuts, "white glue" was listed. But there was no white glue in the box.

I have white glue. We mend all sorts of things with it. I took a leap of faith and trusted that my white glue was pretty much the same as the white glue that should have been included with the table parts. So far the table is still sturdy and performing quite well in our family room.

Now about those easy-open packages.

I figure if a package of whatever -- let's say cookies for the sake of illustration -- were really easy to open, the cookie maker wouldn't need to make a big deal about it on the package. It would be obvious. And it would be, indeed, easy.

The biggest challenge for food packagers, I think, is matching the "easy to open" part with a corresponding "easy to reseal" contraption of some sort.

I think the folks at Kraft have finally made a breakthrough. Packages of Oreos are not only easy to open, but the package truly reseals with no fuss or muss. I know this firsthand, because I have carefully tested and retested the Oreos packages that somehow appear in our cupboard. I am here to tell you that Oreos stay fresh and delicious in their New Age package that is both simple and easy to open and close. Of course they stay fresh. After Oreos are opened, how long do they last?

Speaking of Oreos, the cookie was first introduced to sweet-loving palates a century ago. For 100 years folks have been dipping Oreos into a glass of milk. In our family, my sons and I have carefully researched the properties of Oreos when consumed near a campfire. Did you know if you lick the icing from an Oreo and toss the chocolate cookie parts on a blazing fire, the cookies turn bright orange and then magically disappear? Maybe you've researched this on your own.

Oreos appeared the same year the Girl Scouts of America was founded. Let's see. Oreos. Girl Scouts. Girl Scout cookies. Do you think their might be a connection?

By the way, Girl Scout cookies come in a fairly standard package. It is neither easy to open or close. But who cares? Who has any cookies left after the package is torn open?

Happy birthday, Girl Scouts. Here's hoping your lives will be blessed by the easy-to-follow instructions of your great organization.

Joe Sullivan is the retired editor of the Southeast Missourian.

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