I’m a middle-boomer, i.e. born smack dab in the middle of the ’50’s Baby Boom. I grew up with at least two things that characterize that age: Television and boxed cereal. I love cereal. I love it for breakfast, and I love it as a snack, especially a bedtime snack. I also love television. Rather than feel somehow harmed by it, I attribute my very extensive general knowledge and verbal skills to it. But I digress.
One of the perplexing and enduring mysteries of the 21st Century is why cereal makers continue to use non-resealable bags on the inside of their cereal boxes? A second question might well be, why use a box at all (although that one is a little easier to answer)?
When I was a kid, I remember reaching for my box of Alpha Bits, only to find it upside down with about a one-inch rim of the cardboard sawed off with a serrated bread knife. My Mom couldn’t figure out how to open the top with that clever little interlocking flap (yeah, the one that never actually worked to hold the box closed afterward), without actually ripping the box-top to shreds, it was glued so aggressively. So she would take the bread-knife to it, too impatient to waste her time on these developments from the American Propaganda machine (she never understood why I wanted to eat that shit in the first place when a nice fresh egg and some feta cheese with homemade bread were waiting for me).
Strangely enough, buy any box of cereal today and it is virtually exactly the same as it was in 1958. Same cardboard, same glue, same worthless flaps, same non-resealable bag. In the meantime, the Ziploc has revolutionized how we buy and store everything from fish to vegetables….but not mainstream cereal.
Lately, I’ve been buying some high-end cereals from companies like Wild Roots. Great stuff, very tasty. But what is refreshing is the delivery system: A very thick “stand up” plastic bag with a double liner and a massive Ziploc. A real pleasure to use.
Of course the reason Kellogg’s and others won’t use these is simple: They take up a lot more room than a box on the dearly-paid-for store shelves, and you also can’t put as many bags as boxes on the aforementioned shelves because the bags don’t stack well. In other words, consumer satisfaction takes a back-seat to profit. Surprised?
But the question of the resealable bag is much more difficult. Certainly the technology exists and the cost increment can’t be anything but infinitesimally small if any. So we are left to speculate that perhaps there’s a consumption advantage to not having a good seal. Is it perhaps beneficial for the manufacturer that the cereal go stale after a while, necessitating a new purchase? Or is it just the thought that you can’t seal it enough to make you eat it faster in order to keep it from going stale? We can only hazard a few guesses; the truth lies buried deep in the savage marketer’s brain. One thing you can be sure of: It’s absolutely intentional and profitable. “You can’t protect yourself part-time, from people committed to taking advantage of you full time”