John Moore Let ‘er rip

Whoever designed the string-pull on a bag of charcoal needs to know they failed.

And it isn’t just bags of charcoal. It’s also large bags of kitty litter and pet food. You pull the string and it either snaps off in your hand or removes one of your fingers, but it never ever pulls evenly and removes the paper to let you get at what you’re after.

Let me put it this way. If this design were also used to try and crank a push mower with a 6.5 horse Briggs and Stratton engine, it wouldn’t start.

How in the world did something found virtually everywhere get past the string pullers in quality control?

String Puller QC Guy 1: “Hey, Bill. This new string-pull design just snapped off in my hand. How’d yours do?”

String Puller QC Guy 2: “Mine ripped the bag right down the side and all of the kitty litter is now in my shoe.”

String Puller QC Guy 1: “Smoke break?”

String Puller QC Guy 2: “You bet.”

Of course, men and women deal with failed products differently. Wives, by virtue of being wives, can simply punt the failed products to the husband. Guys have no one else to punt to.

Wife: “Honey, let’s do steaks tonight. I picked up a new bag of charcoal with that convenient string-pull at the Piggly Wiggly. It’s by the grill.”

Husband: “Yes, dear.”

The husband then proceeds to pull out his pocketknife and turn into Zorro. He gets the charcoal he needs and then grabs a Piggly Wiggly sack to house the rest until the next time he grills.

But the string-pull invention isn’t the only thing we seem to tolerate. How about that molded plastic that encases products?

It’s as tough as a brick.

If you buy a pair of needle nose pliers with that hard, clear clamshell packaging all the way around, you’ll discover that it is impervious to nuclear blasts, bullets, and pocketknives. Many a husband has succumbed to wrap rage and has fought this material until he needs the needle nose pliers to sew up the gaping wound left in his hand, arm, or neck.

I’ve even seen very large products wrapped in this stuff. Why can’t they put products in cardboard boxes like they used to? Simple concept. You take a product, and put it in a cardboard box that has a picture of what’s in the box.

You know what you’re getting, it’s easy to get out, and you can reuse the box to put your charcoal in. Then you can use the Piggly Wiggly sack for all of that old, bloody clear plastic stuff you want to hide from your neighbors when you set it out for the trash truck.

Failed packaging ideas don’t stop with strings and murderous plastic. How about when they actually do use a cardboard box, but they use one the size of a Buick for a package of Q-Tips?

This sort of tactic is typically reserved as a trick.

When a guy gives his girl a diamond ring inside the box his 85-inch plasma TV came in, that’s acceptable. What’s not acceptable is ordering one single book and it arrives in a box so big it won’t fit in the mailbox. So, the postal person leans it against the mailbox where a neighbor’s dog can initiate it, or it rains for an hour before you can get home.

And then there’s recycled cups.

I don’t know about you, but the idea of drinking out of a ‘recycled’ cup isn’t appealing at all.

Cup Quality Control Guy 1: “Hey, Bill. Instead of making new cups, why don’t we just take the old cups, shred ‘em up and make new ones?”

Cup Quality Control Guy 2: “Smoke break?”

Cup Quality Control Guy 1: “You bet.”

Maybe it’s just me, but I have a feeling that the folks who come up with packaging ideas are all sitting around having a big laugh at our expense.

Even if they are, I have to get back to work. Package just arrived. It’s a huge box. Must be the Band-Aids I ordered.

John’s new book, Puns for Groan People, and his books, Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, are available on his website –, where you can also send him a message and hear his weekly podcast.

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