Saturday, March 26, 2011

Battling the Bottle

Having survived the struggle to locate my favorite variety of Ocean Spray juice amid the mind-boggling welter of flavors and competing varieties on the supermarket shelves, I can report that I nearly did myself in anyway, — trying to remove the cap from the bottle.

The darn thing is just a piece of plastic, and it's supposed to just twist off, but it wouldn't. I'm fairly strong for my size from working out, and I can open all kinds of jars and bottles without thinking twice. This one refused.

I wrapped the lid in a towel and tried some more. No luck. I whacked the top of the bottle on our granite counter top. Nope. Then I took a deep breath and tried very hard, one more time, to twist it.  My hand was already sore from previous attempts; this time, I felt pain up my arm and into my neck and shoulder.  Only moderate but steady cramping and pain, which went away after several hours. But it was not worth a glass of juice.

I resorted to weaponry. A serrated knife sawed apart the perforated base of the cap, and I tried to stick the knifepoint under the cap. I forcefully shoved the knife here and there, wondering the whole time about what sort of knife wound I was about to inflict upon myself. For once, nothing happened. And the cap still refused to budge.

At this point, I had to take a breather and ask myself: What the Heck? Was I was crazy, or weaker, than I thought? Were the Ocean Spray bottlers a bunch of burly he-men? Did they hate their customers? How did they expect kids, or fragile and elderly people to open these bottles if healthy weight-lifters can't manage it?  Were juice-drinkers all around the country hurting themselves?

I got my wrench, a feminine design with an all-over floral print; I like the irony of girly steel tools. (I have the matching scissors, screwdriver, measuring tape, and box cutter.) It was too small to fully grip the cap.

I went under the bed and dug out our tool box for our large, adjustable pliers. I got the bottle open on my second or third try. And then I recovered a bit, stretching and massaging my shoulder and neck.

Bottle in question, with weapon of choice.

Sipping my juice, which I dilute without 8 parts of water to cut the sweetness, I called Ocean Spray. While I was on hold, a recording of a folksy-farmer-sounding guy extolled the virtues of their latest product: carbonated juice. Oh, boy, still more flavors to crowded store shelves. Already they can't stock enough of the basic flavors we all want because they are obligated to make room for "New! Cran-Sweet-Potato" and "New! Cran-Avocado." Honestly, the feverish marketing team at Ocean Spray will come up with those flavors soon, if they haven't already.

The customer-service rep was very friendly. I read her the identifying information stamped on the bottle and she told me my bottle came from their plant in Bordentown, New Jersey, where the capping machinery is sometimes wound up too tightly, causing customers to complain "Unfortunately," she said, "Bordentown is the supplier for the entire Northeast region. We will get this information to them right away and have them adjust their machines."

My sympathies to juice drinkers throughout New England and the Mid-Atlantic in the meantime.

She said that, the next time I encounter a resistant bottle — and undoubtedly I will, as will thousands of us juice drinkers — the trick is to run the cap under very hot water for a couple of minutes. This is an old trick I've used for metal caps on glass bottles, because these materials expand at different rates when heated. But it didn't make sense to me that it would work with plastic on plastic. However, it did occur to me that boiling the bottle might eventually melt the cap, while wrecking the juice with cancer-causing plastic by-products.

She sent me a couple of coupons for free bottles, so I can try it for myself.

1 comment:

  1. Old fashion nutcrackers are my weapon of choice for opening bottle tops. You know, the ones you use to crack open lobsters instead of nuts.

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