I suppose this is water under the bridge now, but it's something I've always wondered about. For at least 10 or 15 years cans of frozen orange juice concentrate have had those handy plastic strips around the lid to help you open them. But until just recently you had to open lemonade cans with an old-fashioned can opener, not a job for the faint of heart. Why were they so late in putting the plastic strips on lemonade? Is the diffusion of new technology in our society so slow that the lemonade division of Minute Maid just found out about this new breakthrough? Or did they just figure lemonade drinkers were so tough they could tear the cans open with their teeth (which, believe me, I was more than once tempted to do)?
Illustration by Slug Signorino
Now, Rick, let’s not get excited. The difference in packaging had to do with the physical characteristics of the two products. As OJ gets colder, it just gets gradually thicker. Lemonade, on the other hand, is more like water — it remains liquid as it get colder until all of a sudden it freezes over. The temperature in grocery freezers, it turns out, is notoriously variable. If it gets too warm, OJ will get mushy, but it’ll remain pretty viscous. Lemonade, however (along with apple and grape juice), will become completely liquid. Since early tearstrips didn’t seal as well as conventional double-seam cans, lemonade in tearstrip containers tended to leak, making them impractical. Fortunately, a better-sealing tearstrip was developed that could be used with lemonade, and this unseemly form of discrimination was stamped out at last.
Send questions to Cecil via firstname.lastname@example.org.