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Bad packaging: Consumer Reports' 2007 Oyster Awards

The magazine welcomes new inductees into its packaging 'hall of shame' for hard-to-open packaging.

For those who have bloodied fingers or been frustrated by hard-to-open packaging, take heart. Consumer Reports ( magazine announced in its March 2007 issue The Oyster Awards that annually recognize the best of the worst when it comes to what CR views as the ultimate in consumer inconvenience. Heading this year's list from among 26 contenders the staff rounded up for its real-world tests: Oral-B Sonic complete Toothbrush kit, and Bratz Sisterz dolls.

Oral-B took more than three minutes to open via a box cutter as the tight packaging thwarted the use of scissors. The tester ended up with a table littered with sharp plastic shards.

Meanwhile, the Bratz Sisterz took nearly 8 1/2 minutes for the tester to open. The review counted an amazing 50 restraints such as rubber bands, tape and molded plastic covers among the frustrating barriers to a good opening experience.

Some good news

Granted, we in packaging understand that many products are intentionally made difficult to open to deter theft and, where applicable, meet regulatory requirements.

In defense of packaging, the article also cites protective packaging used for products shipped from afar, and a trend toward toy packaging to be interactive. And it shows a graphical row of "The good guys," packaging that "gets the message from consumers." These include a user-friendly clamshell for a Logitech mouse, a high-tech food bag for Arnold croutons, a premeasured, disposable single-dose cold remedy from Zircam, and an easy, twist-to-open toothbrush package from Oral-B.

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