Thursday, November 18, 2010

Here’s to you, Mister (nearly) blow-proof microwave cup cap inventor


Image by danielhedrick via Flickr

Almost everyone eventually buys some kind of food container that is designed to be heated in a microwave oven by first removing a metal cap, then placing a perforated plastic cap on top of the container. This is intended to allow the contents to boil up without blowing up the cap. This almost never works, which means you end up warming the item in phases to avoid it to blow up and splatter its contents all over your oven.

Some genius, which I simply can’t find so I can give him/her proper credit, figured out a way around this: I am seeing a new cap design in some 2-cup portion microwaveable soups that has pressure latches molded into the perforated plastic cap. This gives the cap a much better lock than simply snapping it into place. It is a beautifully implemented idea, and their only cost was probably having to retool the molds used to make the caps. There are no moving parts, there are no other changes needed for the packaging.

The problem is no longer the cap. Now the problem is that when you pull out the metal cap, the ring left on the cup is too weak and it gets deformed, which compromises the fit of the new perforated plastic cap. If you are not patient when you pull the metal cap, you will end up bending the ring, so you will either have to bend it back into its right shape, or risk your two cups of soup blowing all over your microwave.

This is almost sad, because to me the new design is such a triumph of engineering and simple ingenuity that the shitty design of the metal ring spoils it. Maybe somebody needs to find out if there is a better way to execute this kind of metal seal on these microwaveable cups.