Plastic Clamshell Packaging Is the Worst

Worthy runners-up include the interfaces on most microwaves, TV remotes, New York City's parking signs, and pull-handles on push-only doors, according to users of Quora.

800px-Wrap_Rage_Example.jpg

Wikimedia Commons

If you've recently opened up -- or, more specifically, tried to open up -- a CFL light bulb, like this poor woman above, or countless other products, you probably read the headline of this article and thought, oh hell yes. Consider yourself validated: In response to a question posted on Quora last year, "What is the worst piece of design ever done?" the site's users have given resounding support to one answer: plastic clamshell packaging.

Quora user Anita Schillhorn writes, "Design should help solve problems" -- clamshells are supposed to make it harder to steal small products and easier for employees to arrange on display -- but this packaging, she says, makes new ones, such as time wasted, frustration, and the little nicks and scrapes people incur as they just try to get their damn lightbulb out. This is a product designed for the manufacturers and the retailers, not the end users. There is even a Wikipedia page devoted to "wrap rage," "the common name for heightened levels of anger and frustration resulting from the inability to open hard-to-remove packaging." Other worthy answers to the Quora question include the interfaces on most microwaves, TV remotes, New York City's parking signs, and pull-handles on push-only doors, but none gained even close to the level of popular repudiation that clamshells received.

If Quora's affirmation of your wrap rage is not enough for you, here's Larry David's -- and really, who better is there to share your total annoyance with some trivial aspect of our modern life than Larry David?

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Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Business Channel. She was previously an associate editor at The Wilson Quarterly.

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