Jars and Bottles of Different Widths

Jars and bottles come in so many shapes and sizes. Short; tall; narrow-mouthed; wide-mouthed.

I have always liked to collect and save certain bottles (used mason jars because they are super handy and versatile, and the wide mouth makes them easy to wash; used wine and liquor bottles because they are often pretty, as well as handy for using as water bottles around the house; used salad-dressing bottles for mixing and dispensing my own salad dressing, since I dislike most store-bought salad dressing).

But it wasn’t until I got several months into my latest experiment of living without a fridge that it occurred to me that narrow-mouth containers are better at delaying spoilage (which I assume is because the narrow mouth reduces the surface area of the contents that’s exposed to air).

There is a tradeoff, however. Narrow-mouthed containers are much harder to clean, and also, they are not suitable for storing any substance that’s too thick and not easy to pour. (Way back in the 1960s-70s, Heinz ketchup based an entire ad campaign on this concept, that its product is hard to pour — presumably because it’s yummy and thick, not runny and thin.)

Glass containers are much easier to wash than plastic ones. I try to avoid storing dairy or anything else with much fat content in a plastic container. On the other hand, plastic containers are non-shattering and are much lighter in weight, making them great for picnics, travel, and errands.

If you want to see some super pretty and cool-shaped bottles, check out Damiana liqueur, Ocean organic vodka, and Porfidio tequila bottles. (The cactus sticking up stalagmite-like inside the bottle, like a mini desert-in-a-bottle, is just way super cool.)

Speaking of containers, the other week I went to get a dozen donuts for a friend’s birthday celebration. (Public-health note: There were just five of us in the party, and we met outdoors in a park by the beach.)

I went to the donut shop by bicycle. When I got the box, I realized something that I should have remembered from seeing many other dozen-donut boxes: The box was very wide and flat, which would make it impossible to carry while riding my bike. So, I ended up having to walk with the donut box in one hand and pushing the bike with the other hand, a distance of about a mile to the park.

If memory from the olden days serves me, a box of a dozen donuts used to be shaped more like a shoebox, making it much easier to carry. The donuts would be lined up sideways, which of course meant sometimes the toppings would get smeared.

I suppose the wide flat boxes were developed as an improvement to eliminate smeared toppings and allow prettier presentation of the donuts. But in making that improvement, the designers of donut-boxes created a box that (unless you happen to have super phenomenal balance and coordination) would be hard to carry any distance by hand or on a bicycle. Which probably didn’t seem like a big deal to the package design team, or didn’t even cross their minds, because the default assumption in the USA is that “people are getting around by car.”

(A longwinded tale about something that’s trivial on the surface but ended up creating food for thought.)

How about you: Are there any jars or bottles, or boxes or other containers, that you particularly love for their color, shape, or other qualities? And are there any containers you find extremely inconvenient?

Further Exploration:

• Fridgeless living: I’m not suggesting anyone needs to live without a fridge in order to be “green.” Refrigeration makes life a lot easier and in many cases safer. However, I like to push the envelope in my own life, as the findings are potentially useful for disaster-preparedness, freedom from sudden huge repair bills, and so on. Here is the page of search results from this blog, showing my posts that refer to my adventures in fridgeless living. My first such experiment was over a decade ago, when I lived without a fridge for a summer in Austin. My current experiment is my longest so far, about a year and a half and counting.