At work we have a number of snacks stocked in the kitchen and occasionally we have yogurt in the fridge. The other day I was eating from one of the Yoplait Yogurt cups and started scraping at the bottom to get the remainder of the yogurt. Some coworkers started giving me grief for the annoying scraping sounds and I defended myself saying how it’s really the design of the container that’s preventing me from getting what I want.
The tapered design of these yogurt containers has always bothered me, and there are a number of other factors adding to the already poor design…
- The bottom of the container is convex, making the yogurt-remains even less spoon-friendly.
- The container opening has a lip that doubles back inside the container, making the already small opening even smaller.
- Said lid also catches unnecessary amounts of yogurt under it’s edge, requiring flexible spoon techniques for getting it out (or sometimes licking).
- The container kills animals.
All of this on top of a measly 6oz of yogurt, whereas most other brands have cups of 8oz. I found a few other folk complaining about similar things, including two points at This Is Broken (a good usability-problem blog I’d forgotten about). His first complaint about the metallic seal tab has since been fixed. The containers I’ve seen all have tabs now.
But what about point #4!? Killing animals? In my browsing around regarding the container design, I discovered this. Have you ever read the side of a Yoplait container? There’s a message that says, “Protect Wildlife, Crush Before Disposal.” It’s because the Yoplait yogurt container is deadly to small wildlife. The tapered shape, and the lip at the opening allows small animals such as skunks or squirrels to get their head inside the container (to lick up the remains), but the tapered cup and edge would catch on the fur and prevent the animal from getting it’s head out. The animals would wander blindly and most likely suffocate soon after.
This design weblog points out that there are some fundamental problems with the idea that Yoplait is putting the responsibility on the consumer to be environmentally conscious. Indeed. Well, in 1998 Yoplait went as far as to redesign their container to prevent this from happening to animals. Of course their brand image with the “upside down” shape was too precious, so they merely tweaked the lip on the opening, so that it wasn’t as angled, and they added a ridge at the base of the container. This allows animals to grip their claws on the edge, to pull the container off their head if they get stuck.
Given all of these negatives about the design, I’ll concede one benefit of the tapered container: It’s harder to tip over. Putting a metal spoon in an empty, or mostly-finished normal container and placing it on a desk or table and it often tips over. On the other hand, the Yoplait tapered shape keeps it upright. I hardly think this is worth sacrificing a bunch of cute little skunks, squirrels and other critters.
Even putting the environmental issues aside, I just find it much harder to get yogurt out of these stupid tapered containers. How about you?