A monthly look at some of the hits and misses in the packaging world from the viewpoint of Joe Public, Canadian Packaging magazine’s revolving columnists. From the April 2018 issue.
April 20, 2018
by Jaan Koel
Making our lives easier lies at the very heart of the premise and purpose of consumer packaging. It’s a simple notion, but bringing it to life is not always as easy as it sounds. Simply being new is not really the same as being innovative unless accompanied by an appreciable level of consumer acceptance and, subsequently, marketplace longevity. One great example of this is the paperboard carton package called the Fridge Pack—widely used today for 12-packs of 355-ml aluminum cans for various types of soft drink such as Coca-Cola, Canada Dry, Club Soda, Ginger Ale, Pepsi and many other popular brands. Lightweight, highly decorative and attractively printed, these cartons are fully-recyclable, made for a renewable resource (trees) and offer great consumer convenience with a perforated opening in the middle of the pack to let the consumer slide their fingers inside to turn the box into an instant carrying case. Once it makes it home into your fridge, another pre-perforated opening at the front end turns the pack into a gravity-driven dispenser unit that lets the cans slide to the front one a time like a mini-vending machine. When done, the boxes easily collapse into a f lat blank that takes up minimum space in the recycling bin. First filed-tested in 2001 and adopted by Coca-Cola’s largest bottler, Coke Enterprises, in 2002, the Fridge Pack is now being routinely used by virtually all the major soft-drink brands who use the 355-ml aluminum cans. Notably, The Coca-Cola Company has once gone on record to call the Fridge Pack to be one of its greatest packaging innovations since the launch of the contoured plastic bottle some 40 years ago. Such longevity is well backed-up by industry figures showing double-digit sales growth for brands that started using Fridge Pack to sell their canned beverages.
Produced by the venerable household goods giant Church & Dwight Co., Inc. of Ewing, N.J., the colorful 2.2-liter jugs of the XTRA brand liquid laundry detergent are easy to open thanks to their oversized wide-mouth cap, which is also easy to use as a measuring cup for the heavy-duty cleaning solution boosted for maximum cleaning power with the famed OXI CLEAN stain-removing formulation. As an extra consumer perk, the product is usually very reasonably priced—compared to the other leading brand names—especially when it makes its way onto the shelves of my local neighborhood Dollar Store.
Speaking of laundry, it seems only fair to direct a little praise to my recently-acquired Hollister Laundry Hamper for making this unavoidable household chore a less daunting and frustrating experience than it can be. Not only does it look better than reusable plastic milk crates or other similar improvisations, it provides a real safety upgrade for anyone who has to travel a set of stairs or two to get to the laundry machine. Although it takes a few minutes to assemble, the lightweight collapsible frame allows you to carry the load with one hand, while holding on the railing as you make your way. The odor-resistant bags are evenly divided in two compartments—one for light-colored clothes and one for dark—to remind one not to ruin the fabric colors in the wash, and it easily stores away in the closet folded flat until the next laundry collection cycle. It may not make doing laundry more fun per se, but it certainly helps to make it a less intimidating endeavor.
The whimsically-named ta-da large multipurpose shelf from Jascor Housewares Inc. of Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Que. comes in a clean and simple white and orange paperboard carton that aptly reflects the simplicity of the product inside. Made of rust-resistant stainless steel, the shelf unit comes with specially designed suction cups that fasten securely to glass and glass-finished ceramic surfaces with application of user-friendly twist-to-grip techniques that allows for the whole unit to be set up in minutes with no tools and, thoughtfully, no holes in the walls to fret about.
Also putting suction to good use, the Griipa towel rack from Trimtag Trading of Richmond Hill, Ont., has a sleek, modern look nicely enhanced by its stainless-steel construction. While the bar is considerably heavier than the cheaper plastic or faux metal alternatives, the company’s proprietary Griipa friction technology, claimed to be three times stronger than the average suction force, makes light work of keeping this exceptionally useful accessory in place safe and snug. Packaged on top of a firm printed strip of solid cardboard, encased in a form-fitting see-through plastic blister, the Griipa rack gets full marks in this corner for full product transparency, simplicity of design and, so far at least, delivering on its promise to stay in its designated place.
It’s an amusing quirk of history that the so-called French Press coffee press was actually invented, patented and refined in Italy before going mainstream in the European coffee culture. Be that as it may, the French Press is nowadays made in various versions by companies round the world, with all sorts of value-added features to enhance their appeal. Some of the more popular versions include the Bodum coffee press from Denmark and the Trudeau Maison coffee press from the Quebec-based tableware and housewares supplier Trudeau Corporation —featuring heat-resistant glass, insulated handles and ample one-liter brewing capacity. And while there are more than few single-cup coffee presses on the market today, the Swiss-made Zyliss Travel French Press from Diethelm Keller Brands AG really hits the spot for on-the-go coffee aficionados by making the coffee right inside the carry-away cup, made from tough BPA-free polymer that can withstand whatever knocks, drops or other punishment come its way during the travels. Featuring double lining on the inside to keep the coffee warm longer, this innovative mug/press combo delivers your own freshly-pressed, on-the-go coffee at a fraction of the price charged by the vast majority of the bigger coffee chains out there.
Jaan Koel is a freelance writer living in Toronto.