Hard To Open

What Are They Protecting The Potato Chips From?

A weekly commentary by CBS News Correspondent Andy Rooney.


We have a crisis in America today more serious than any threat posed by Saddam Hussein, because it affects the lives of every one of us every day.

The problem is this: Everything we buy is too hard to open.

Look at this stuff. They make it, but we can't get at it. It doesn't matter whether it's a mouthwash, a video cassette, a jar of jam or a bottle of pills. They're all too hard to open. No one wants to spend five minutes working on the top of something.

Pill bottles are called "child proof," but they're adult proof. These caps on medicine bottles may have saved the lives of some children, but there's no statistic on how many adults have died in the middle of the night because they couldn't get the top off a bottle of their medicine.

Everything opens a different way:

One set of directions says "push down and turn to open, squeeze sides while turning." These are the worst. Like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time.

Others, you have to go at with a knife to get the plastic off before you start twisting, pressing or turning.

Why should a bag of potato chips be a problem? What are they protecting in there? The air? Half the time, you end up tearing it open with your teeth.
How many small children have died when they got into a bag of potato chips by accident?

And what about a quart of milk or a container of orange juice? If there isn't anything dangerous in there, why do they make it so hard to get in one? It says "Push up"! Push what up? About 25 percent of the time, it doesn't work, anyway.

Look at this box of granola. You fight your way in and then they tell you how to get at the granola itself. You need a pair of scissors.

Plastic packages are a pain. They're good for the manufacturer, and they make it easy for the store to display, but you need a crowbar to open one.

If you think there's any doubt that things are too hard to open, look at the cottage industry that has sprung up. There are different kinds of gadgets designed to help you get into a package, a can, a bottle or a box.

Now what I need is something to help me open the package with the opener in it.

  • Ellen Crean

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