Tuesday Tirade: Non-stackable cans

We all have cupboards or pantries in our kitchens with some sort of canned goods. From beans, to soups, to tomatoes and vegetables canned goods are ubiquitous across the world. They’re quick and handy in a pinch. I know I’ve had my share of Spaghetti-Os – we all have. But there is a silent epidemic that has been plaguing store (and pantry) shelves for years: cans that don’t stack. You know what I’m talking about. And oft times it’s actually not a silent epidemic as the sounds of crashing cans and cooks screaming as they dive to catch them fill the kitchen.

Let’s look at this objectively:
99.9% of the time canned goods are going to be stacked. It doesn’t matter if it’s at home, in a retail setting, or in a four-star restaurant’s pantry. To conserve space and in order to increase supply as much as possible you need to make use of the available space. This clearly means things are going to get stacked.

We’ve all done it. You unload your grocery bags and start putting your canned goods away. Inevitably, one falls over off the top of another. Did you ever stop to think why? Of course you did. The slightest breeze made as you reached passed it made it topple. Or perhaps you did accidentally graze it with your forearm. Or maybe the can has a slight manufacturing defect in it’s shape so it didn’t sit straight – and your shelf is crooked. Who knows. But the main culprit? It’s because the bottoms of the cans aren’t all made to interlock with the tops of the cans. Which of course begs the question: Why aren’t ALL cans made stackable? You may think this a trivial thing, and you know how they say don’t sweat the small stuff. Well, the plethora of dented cans, crushed fingers, and throbbing toes may say otherwise.  Let’s take a look at some good cans, and some bad cans.

GOYA is a manufacturer of fantastically stacking cans. Look how nicely these two cans of beans stack with each other.

Why so perfect? Because of this:

You see that wonderful little lip on the bottom of the can? That sits inside the rim of the top of the can below it, making it a nice nesting set of cans. Now, they can be stacked 4 or 5 high before it becomes precarious. Trust me I know this because I worked at a drug store (think Walgreens) for about 7 years setting up displays like this.

Hunts however, is a maker of BAD cans. Observe these two small cans of tomato somethingerother:
I had to veerrrryyy carefully maneuver those to be almost perfectly stacked. But you know the instant you apply an ounce of force to the top one this will happen:
And then down it goes. Probably knocking over three other cans in the process – or rolling off the shelf and dropping onto the floor – possibly your foot. After all the cans are round and round things roll – especially when you don’t want them too. The tops and bottoms of these cans are manufactured and cut exactly the same. The only way to stack them is to play a dangerous Jenga-like game of lining up the narrow edges of the top and bottom – and that takes about three tries.

I don’t know about you, but this whole ordeal bothers the hell out of me.

We can put men on the moon, but we can’t make cans that stack. Go figure.


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