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Unscrewing the cap

Sometimes, I wonder who designs stuff. Obviously, the people responsible for IKEA’s furniture design take a sadistic pleasure in making the assembly increasingly more complex – or maybe it’s me, having less nimble fingers these days. (Think not)

And then there’s the person who has redesigned the caps of the toothpaste tubes. I recall a time when this was a rather simple construction. Unscrew cap, squeeze out toothpaste, screw cap back on. Simple. No manual required. Difficult to screw up.

tandkrämNow, the cap has become an engineered product. You flip the cap open, squeeze, flip the cap closed. Well, that’s the general idea, I presume. Problem is, you do that with a new tube and NOTHING happens. You squeeze a bit more. Nothing. Strange. Should the cap be opened some other way? A quick inspection reveals it can’t be opened any other way. Yet another squeeze. No toothpaste. This is when I angle the tube under the bathroom light and peer down the nozzle, only to discover there seems to be a shiny barrier of sorts.

Some further inspection has me concluding I have to screw the entire cap off to be able to get at the aluminium foil that covers the exit hole. Brilliant design, right? A new cap that flips open so as to avoid the huge effort of having to unscrew the cap, and then the first thing one has to do is to unscrew it anyway… Said and done, I unscrew, tear off the aluminium and screw the cap back in place. I can now triumphantly flip the cap open, squeeze, and voilà, a string of toothpaste now decorates my toothbrush. I’m exhausted by this brush with modern technology, but manage to clean my teeth before collapsing on my bed.

tandkräm 2The person who redesigned the toothpaste tube obviously has no teenage boys. Teenage boys have no patience with stupid things that have to be disconnected, adjusted and then connected again. Teenage boys will therefore unscrew the new elegant cap, tear off the foil and leave the tube uncapped by the sink. Consequence 1: toothpaste slowly, slowly leaks out to decorate the porcelain. Consequence 2: irritated mother will yell at teenage boy until he replaces cap, thereby killing off the happy family atmosphere.

The new design is also not intended for people with fumbly fingers. That little scrap of aluminium is hard to get a grip on, and while some may resort to punching a hole through the foil, I prefer not to risk having my toothpaste contain possible aluminium particles as aluminium that comes in contact with teeth cause quite some discomfort.

This “let’s add an aluminium barrier” is clearly very much in fashion with packaging designers these days. Heinz does it with their ketchup, but those aluminium seals are quite the challenge to rip off. Once again, the construction calls for the consumer to unscrew the cap, struggle with the aluminium and replace the cap. (In difference to toothpaste, even the laziest of teenage boys gathers that not putting the cap back in this case would be very stupid, resulting in an overkill of ketchup on your burger)

I suppose the aluminium is there to protect us consumers from…germs? from using toothpaste that someone else may have taken a squeeze out of? Whatever the case, I still think the old-fashioned screw cap on toothpaste worked just fine – besides, it had the added benefit of being smaller, thereby using up less plastic. And as to aluminium, isn’t that something we should strive to use as little as possible of? Just sayin’…

And here endeth my little rant about toothpaste tubes and caps. Maybe I should go back to using baking soda and salt instead…


1 thought on “Unscrewing the cap”

  1. The foibles of modern life! My son walks around the house doing things while he’s cleaning his teeth! Is staying in the bathroom for a precious minute or two so terribly onerous?

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