Death to the Clamshell! I Long For The Simple Cardboard Box

Posted on August 28, 2017


Hubby: “I’d like to find the guy who invented this crap and punch him in the face. If he was here I’d be like, ‘Oh, was this your idea? Come here so I can punch you in the face.'”

Hubby is usually a pretty easy-going guy, and generally reserves such outbursts of violent fantasy for the deepest, darkest pits of incompetence. So what got him going? Those dang clamshell plastic packages, or whatever you call them.

You know the ones: the stiff, clear, form-fitting plastic merchandise armor which encloses your recent purchase, defending it against all assaults, and deploying such effective defensive measures that each year, more than 6,000 of us end up in the emergency room with package-induced injuries.

It’s maddening. The seam which runs around the edge deceives you into thinking the merchandise armor can be pried open like – well, like a clamshell, but it is highly resistant to this form of attack. Your fingers failing to find any grip, pull-tab, or point of entry, you resort to sharp objects. The right-angle fold of the seam resists scissors; ah, a knife, then. After slipping and stabbing yourself several times in an effort to make an opening to extract your merchandise (no, no, this isn’t too bad, I’m fine, really), you finally – finally!! think you might just be able to squeeze it out past the jagged and torn edges of the plastic, only to slash your hand on the packaging itself.


Hubby managed to mangle the batteries out of the packaging without personal injury (this time), but the problem is so ubiquitous that it has spawned an industry of special tools for opening these accursed things, as well as any number of advice articles on how to get into the packages without losing a finger… and failing that, a market for legal actions for the injured.

But you know what? Packaging just shouldn’t be that difficult. Why, oh why, do manufacturers and retailers subject us to this abuse? We just want to buy your product and use it without adding another 27 stitches to our medical bills.

The reason for this is to prevent shoplifting. Well, to prevent shipping damage, too, but mainly – shoplifting.

This makes no damn sense. Okay, it makes sense if you have a tiny, expensive, pilferable thing like an ink cartridge, and you use the clamshell to make the item too big to easily stick in a jacket or purse. But that’s not what’s happening here, is it? Hubby’s outburst was against a package of four batteries for which the clamshell was scarcely any larger than the actual merchandise, and the whole thing would have fit quite handily in a pocket or purse. Batteries are also not so prone to breakage in shipment, so that’s not a good justification either. They just do it because it’s cheap, probably, and screw you, consumer.

Manufacturers, would it kill ya to just put the batteries into a flimsy cardboard box, as was done in the old pre-plastic days? Listen up: if I, the consumer, were standing in front of the battery display shelf and one brand came in a sensible, easy-open cardboard box, I would buy that one, hands-down, without so much as a glance back at the brands encased in their hermetically-sealed, doomsday-proof capsules, awaiting a day eons hence, when highly evolved cockroach archaeologists will unearth them, and one will promptly slash his tarsus on the thing and end up in the emergency room.