Sunday 15 May 2011

Great lies of the Modern World #243: 'PEEL HERE'

It’s a plastic carton of bacon.
It’s a waxy paper packet of cheese.
It’s a  supermarket sandwich.
It’s a tray of sliced ham.

Your first instinct as a man is to pick it up and pull it apart. To huff and puff and tear the pack asunder, grunting with hairy-chested satisfaction that you have killed it and now, ug, throwing your head back and laughing wildly, you may feast well upon it.

But then you remember that you are not a mere grunty ape any more; that you have progressed, evolved from the primal life of the jungle floor. You now know how to use tools, so you grab a small sharp knife from the drawer, and you’re just about to stick it into the plastic when you see two words:

‘Peel Here.’

However sophisticated and well-groomed your all-new must-wash metrosexual male image might look, at that moment you are so still resisting the powerful urge to shred the pack into smithereens.

But you don’t, ‘cos it’s not what’s expected of you. You’re meant to be in control of your urges, aware of socially-acceptable behaviour and hopefully able to read.

So you look at those two words:

‘Peel here.’

All of a sudden the binary door of your super-efficient logical male brain crashes open, and a shaft of dazzling light fills your cerebral cortex. Heavenly falsetto angels sing an ethereal chorus of joyful choral anthems.

Look! They’ve gone to the trouble of specifically adapting their packaging design and decided it’s worthwhile to make major modifications to their factory machinery, just to make a little bendy toggly bit on the corner of the pack.

Just so you can open it easily.

Would they really go to all that trouble if it wasn’t going to work?
No, silly, of course they wouldn’t.

But then you’re suddenly shocked by an unexpected broadside barrage of negative thinking, a salvo of cautionary thoughts, fired from the experiential caverns of your brainbox.

No, it won’t work.
It never works.
Never did. never will.
Tear it.
Use the knife.
It never works. You know it never works. Cut it. Cut it.

But you want to believe. You so want to believe that if they can grow babies in glass tubes and sell 31 flavours of ice cream in one single shop, that they really might have finally come up with a simple, easy and efficient way of opening their product.
A way that, by design, might even leave the package resealable.
A way that might not later require the use of cling film, aluminium foil, super-glue and bandages to restore the packet to a safe level of hygienic storage, ready for the fridge.

So you put the knife down. You pick up the packet and taking a deep breath, try to meter your manly muscly power so as not to break off the triangular tabby ‘Peel Here’ thing.

Holding your breath you gently pull, but nothing happens.
You pull harder. You bend the tabby triangle back and forth a few times, just in case there’s an in-built line of weakness that you haven’t activated yet. You pull it again, harder, now breathing wildly, teeth gritted, pulling harder and stronger and tighter and

Nothing gives. It doesn’t want to peel. It shows no sign of peeling.
It’s a lie. Another dirty down dastardly lie. They’ve had you again, the little bleeders.

Your next choice of action depends wholly on the level of intellectual engagement available within your present hissing and grunting testicular frenzy. You either grab one side of the packet with each of your hands and pull the living fucking daylights out of it, until, inevitably, the ham, cheese or bacon falls onto the kitchen floor. Or, if you’re hanging off a branch slightly higher up the behavioural tree, you grab the knife you put down earlier and stab it into the packet, sliding a simple easy cut into the thin covering, wondering why on earth you didn’t just do that in the first place.

At this stage it is important to remember that your objective is to eat. You really must resist all temptations to stab the packet again and again and again, out of pure bloody-minded fury. If you find yourself unable to stop hacking the packet to shreds with the blade of your knife, it’s time to take yourself off to bed for a wee nap, and then seek psychiatric help in the morning.

If you live on the happy side of psychotic, then just make a nice cuppa tea and enjoy your sandwich.

You know you’ll never believe their filthy ‘Peel Here’ lie again.
Or will you?

Who knows, by the time you’ve bought the next packet, they might have perfected it....


David Rainger said...

Also, 'Help Line' - a lie I remember you pointing out to me a while back. BTW do you know the proper way to open a packet of spaghetti? Grasp firmly at the mid-point and whack it vertically down into a work surface with all the pent-up fury you can muster... So brilliant, and works too.
They're all fuckers though, aren't they.

Charlie Adley said...

Absolutely - I was thinking before I wrote it of how the on-hold old chestnut 'your call is very important to us' is another great lie.

The spaghetti method sounds interesting! Guess it sorts out those extra-long strands!

Cheers David!

Paz said...

One of the great in jokes among the food packaging fraternity. Lets put a red peel off tab and make them suffer

Charlie Adley said...

Strange that 'let's make the customer suffer' mentality. You'd think they might want us to be happy, but maybe it's a case of once they've got your dosh they strive to have the last laugh. Kind of kills the notion of building brand loyalty though.

I'm knifing it all from now on.

Ian said...

On German packaging it often just says "Hier" in the corner. If you're lucky, that little triangular corner piece is coloured red, just to make sure you realise that "Hier" is significant. No instructions as to what exactly you're supposed to do "Hier": philosophise on the meaning of life, stare at the red bit until it curls up out of sheer discomfort, or do what only proper blokes know how to - whinge and give it to the wife to open!

Charlie Adley said...

I rather like the minimalist'Hier'. At least it doesn't fill you with ill-found optimism. 'Hier' might be the scene of your famous vixctory or most shameful moment. But jeeze Mac, give it to the wife to open?! I'll bet you're the kind of crazy modern man-hating man who stops the car and asks directions when you're lost! Do you carry a spare testicle in the boot?

Saw JB last week, had a fine time hangin' in the plazas. Hope you're good. Cheeers.