In 1975, the very first broadcast of “Saturday Night Live” included a commercial parody that remains a classic today.
The product was called Triopenin and it was an arthritis pain medication. The smooth advertiser says that Triopenin “spreads soothing relief where it’s needed”, is “gentle, non-habit forming” and “helps soothe muscles and release stiff joints and painful”.
Meanwhile, we see a pair of arthritic hands attempt to unscrew the cap from the medicine bottle, and fail. Frustrated hands try to pound the plastic bottle against the table, to no avail.
Finally, we see a bottle lying on its side, pills sticking out of it, clearly after it’s been hit by a hammer, as the announcer triumphantly declares, “Now with the new child-resistant cap.”
The medicine is pronounced “Try to open”.
I’ve been thinking about this commercial parody ever since I received an email from a reader.
Naomi Runtz, of Ladue, Missouri, is 89. She still cooks three meals a day for herself and her husband and sometimes for her whole family. The day before she wrote to me, she had prepared a corned beef dinner for eight.
It’s not the kitchen that’s his problem. It penetrates food packaging and jars.
“It’s good that everything is well sealed for preservation and to prevent leaks. However, it takes me so long to open things,” she wrote.
I understand perfectly. When my wife can’t open an airtight lid on a jar, she hands it to me so I can open it and feel strong and manly.
Except when I don’t. Some of these lids are very difficult to open, especially when pressurized or just a little tight. And although I have an Adonis-like physique made up almost entirely of cascading and/or rippling muscles, my grip strength is a little weak.
I’m a lover, not a fighter – nor a tight lid opener. Sometimes I have to use a rubber band. Occasionally, I gently bang the lid against the counter.
It works, the lid comes off, and I haven’t broken a jar yet. I mean, don’t do that.
They aren’t just jars either. Some foods, such as some types of rice, come in thick plastic bags. You are supposed to be able to separate two parts of the bag at a seam so that it can be resealed.
I often can’t do that. I use scissors on these easy open bags probably more than I should admit.
My charming correspondent, Runtz, has offered a solution.
“I wish the manufacturer would add a little ‘tab’ to save 10-15 minutes of frustration. Perhaps you could use your influence to promote this idea. A simple thing like this would make food prep so much more pleasant.”
I’m deeply flattered that she thinks I have any influence. It’s cute. I also like the idea of a pull tab, if it could be added to packaging cheaply and effectively. I see it as a pull on a zipper that would attach to the side of a jar lid or one of those thick plastic bags I have such a hard time with.
If that’s not a zipper, maybe some brilliant engineer or designer could come up with a new way to open airtight food packaging. After all, the population of this country is only getting older.
It can be done. The childproof cap on the last medicine bottle I received was much easier to open than before.