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Consumers Getting Squeezed by Squirt Containers

By HELEN FADINI | Feb 07, 2018

Have you ever wondered what happened to the brilliant graduates from M.I.T. to Cal Tech? Have they found careers as engineers and scientists? Maybe one of them will find a cure for cancer or build a better mousetrap. I think I’ve found the answer. These masterminds are being hired by the finest companies in the country to build a bigger and better plastic squirter for condiments.   

If you doubt my theory, go to the refrigerator and take out that cute little bottle of Gulden’s mustard. You know the one. Don’t look too hard; you’ll probably find it in the door. It had looked the same for at least 50 years, but one day when you weren’t paying attention, it changed. It no longer comes in a squat, little clear jar. It’s now in a long, plastic squirter tinted the color of mustard so there’s no way you can tell how much is left inside.

The squirter, for lack of a better name, is just a little longer than a butter knife so you’ve got to reach almost to your elbow to get the last bit out. The design is ingenious. The shoulders curve in such a way that it’s impossible to get the tiniest demitasse spoon in to scrap out the last of the mustard.          

When you turn the squirter upside down and give it a good squeeze, a yellow, watery liquid resembling motor oil precedes the mustard and plops on your hot dog. The kids yell “yuk!” as you run to the sink to wash off the mess. Squeezing the squirter exudes sounds that can be heard only in a boy’s high school locker room. Of course, Grey Poupon still comes in a glass, squat bottle, but you’d never dream of putting that on your frankfurter. 

Intending to change brands, I found all of Gulden’s competitors, including Heinz catsup and Hellman’s mayonnaise, come in squirters. Even Welch’s jelly is in on it. There’s no alternative. I asked myself why, and the answer was: why not? It’s a win-win for the food suppliers, a lose-lose for the consumer. It’s a conspiracy.

It doesn’t stop there. Let’s face it, when was the last time you bought a pound of pasta that actually weighed 16 ounces, instead of 12? I can spread a stick of butter across a football field, but I can’t get the last drop of honey out of that little bear’s head. Toothpaste tubes have made their design impossible to squeeze out the last dollop. Keep away from shampoo, conditioner and liquid soap with rounded tops. When they get low, you can’t stand them upside down. More waste.

Produce is not immune. I ran into the store to pick up a couple of things and saw a sign that read “Bananas 25 cents.” What a sale, I thought, as I grabbed enough bananas to feed every gorilla in the Bronx Zoo only to find when I reached the checkout that they were 25 cents each.

The trick is in the packaging. The container looks the same, but when you open it, you have to wonder where the rest is. Did you ever hear the expression when describing tight quarters, “they were packed in like sardines”? It makes no sense if you open a can of sardines today. All you’ll find are five or six lonely fish floating in a sea of olive oil.  

Contact the companies, moan and groan and you’ll get a few free coupons but no action. I can offer no solutions other than buyer beware and read the fine print, especially when buying bananas.

Helen Fadini lives in Washington Township, N.J., and Beach Haven.

 

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