All wrapped up in American ingenuity

Americans may be the world's experts at packaging things – but how to open them?

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The other day I read an article praising Americans for being the world's experts in the art of packaging. But Americans not only have become experts at packaging, they have also become experts at unpackaging, and I think they deserve a lot of credit for that, too.

For example, the plastic bags things are wrapped in these days are amazing. They are not only ripproof and table-knife-proof, but I have found that they're also punctureproof – even when they're thrown to the floor and stamped on. No need to worry about germs being inside because germs don't have high enough IQ's to get there. But Americans have, and I think it's wonderful the way they manage to get those bags open.

I'm sure the person who figured out how to shrink-wrap was highly intelligent. But equally intelligent is the person who figures out how to free a product from its skintight wrapping without destroying the product. Extracting a CD from its packaging is a true test of American ingenuity. And now that cheese is often shrink-wrapped, even making a cheese sandwich has become a specialized skill.

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The way tomatoes these days are frequently sealed in their own form-fitting plastic bubbles is also impressive.

"Scrub those tomatoes. No telling how many hands they've been in," my mother used to caution. But now the problem is not how many hands they've been in, but how to get them into your own. Still, many clever Americans manage to eat those tomatoes.

I don't think we need to worry about Americans becoming weak and spineless. As long as we have packages to open, our courage, strength, and resourcefulness shall not perish from the earth.

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