Accessorizing Milk

I was a big drinker of milk well into my adult years. When I took a youth-hostelling trip to New Zealand in 1983, I loved getting my milk in the solid glass jars they had there. I said so once to an Auckland girl who was showing me around.

“Why? How does milk come in Canada?” she asked.

“In plastic bags,” I answered.

There was a long silence in the car after that. I think she had no idea what to do with that information.

I always took milk bags for granted and didn’t realize how weird that was until I heard the words coming out of my mouth half a world away. However…

Weird Presentations of Milk Require Great Inventions

SnippitThe milk bag came into use in the late 60s. Using plastic to distribute milk had many advantages: lighter to transport; takes up less space in landfill (no recycling in those days); easy to convert to the metric system. But plastic milk bags were not without their problems and I – a clumsy child trying to access my milk – experienced one problem many times: using scissors to open a milk bag sometimes resulted in a too-big hole, a sudden gush of milk out of the bag, and a mess.

Using scissors to open milk bags created another hazard: one might leave the scissors lying around for small children to grab. I never experienced that hazard because by the time milk bags were common I was old enough to avoid it. My own children never even had cause to experience that scenario, because by the time they came along someone else had already had that nightmare…literally.

One night, John Ostrovsky dreamed that his small son hurt himself with scissors left out to open a milk bag. So he invented the Snippit. His family-run business, Tangibles Ltd., still makes them (and the child who didn’t get injured playing with scissors helps manage it).

The arrival of the Snippit meant it was easier for me (now a teenager) to cut a right-size hole in the milk bag. It can be used to open more than just milk, which is why I kept one around long after my kids left home and my weekly purchase of four 4-litre bags per week went down to a 1 litre carton every two weeks.

The Snippit is a wonderful thing; I will now have more to say next time someone in a foreign country asks me about our presentation of milk.


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