Yoplait: Good Yogurt, Bad Container Design

Yoplait Yogurt ContainerAt 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…

  1. The bottom of the container is convex, making the yogurt-remains even less spoon-friendly.
  2. The container opening has a lip that doubles back inside the container, making the already small opening even smaller.
  3. Said lid also catches unnecessary amounts of yogurt under it’s edge, requiring flexible spoon techniques for getting it out (or sometimes licking).
  4. 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?

Comments

36 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. No way any skunk but a baby one could fit its head in there. I can barely fit a spoon into those things!

    • Anonymous,

      Just pulled one of a skunk the other day. They do fit in and get stuck.

      • Mike,

        Saw a big skunk in my area while on a bike ride. Wandering in circles with the Yoplait yogurt cup on it’s head. Poor thing – I called animal control to help.

  2. i don’t eat yogurt a whole lot, but when/if i buy it i intentionally don’t buy yoplait simply because of the cup design. just looking at it makes me angry. and you won’t like me when i’m angry….

    jed… mad…..!!!

  3. Judy,

    This has bothered me for a really long time. I certainly don’t buy it for the
    container, as it is the most anoying of any container on the market. In this day
    and age, you would think they could come up with something more user friendly.
    The first several times I opened them the yogurt ended up squirting all over
    the front of me. I have to open in the oposite direction and now it just gets
    on my paper work. UGH!

  4. Lisa Silva,

    This morning my husband noticed a skunk with a “cup” stuck to his head running around near our home. My husband pulled the container off of the skunk. It was a yoplait yogurt cup. I’m so angry that there is a product on the market that kills animals like that. I can’t believe that General Mills does not have to change the design! This is cruelty to animals!!

  5. Miss Leslie,

    I have to agree completely. Though I love the taste of Yoplait, the container design leaves much to be desired. I hadn’t really thought much about the danger to animals until I read this blog. Thanks for the awareness.

  6. Everytime I open a thing of Yoplait, yogurt squirts out!! It’s so annoying. I always have to open it in sink to avoid getting yogurt on my clothes. However, I must say that the only yogurt I have ever enjoyed is Yoplait Strawberry; I don’t eat any other yogurt because I don’t like the taste or texture.

  7. Oh one more thing, I actually enjoy scraping yogurt out of the container. There is something oddly rewarding about getting little bits of yogurt onto the spoon. Almost like a reward

  8. Barney,

    Lisa is a troll. If you look around on various you see many comments like these from people who supposedly have first-hand experience with Yoplait containers on skunks. Pictures, please. Multiple, sharp, clear pictures, in context, showing the removal of the cup and the face of the person removing it. Better yet, post a video on YouTube … if it really happened. These comments are fake and part of a campaign against General Mills.

    • JeffH in TX,

      Sorry but you’re wrong.
      I’ve seen skunks and squirrels trapped by Yoplait containers.

  9. subliculous,

    no, you’re just one of those annoying coworkers that has to scrapescrapescrape your yogurt cup to get every fucking drop you can.

  10. dude i google searched Yoplait yogurt is bad.
    cus of the same reasons..

    ye i hate the little ass container.
    shit i eat the whole six pack at once.
    they should make a king soze on like 10 little ones in 1 u feel me..

    haha.

    na for reals.
    on the reals about
    killing animals i doubt it foo.
    cus i put one in my fish tank.
    n my little goldfish made it its crib.
    n he sleeps in there.

    so yea.
    just the size of the yougurt sucks.
    the taste is good.
    oh n its true wen i open it like if it has pressure yougurts comes out.
    n that sucks too.
    n u have to lick the lid cus there always yogurt on it.
    bahahaha
    but thats old skool ive done it since i was a lil kid.

    so yea.
    keep on munching it.

  11. mans,

    guys this might be true but the design of the container prevents it from falling after u finish the youghurt when the spoon is still inside..

  12. Hmm, Barney, check out my photo at http://www.flickr.com/photos/marilynphotos/2636801620/

    It is not only NOT fake (don’t let the double negatives trip you up), I still smell faintly of eau-de-gratitude. NOT a baby skunk either. Skunks have small heads and these containers are deadly to them.

    And no I am not anti-General Mills. I eat Cheerios every single day for breakfast.

    P.S. Barney, there are YouTube videos of skunks with Yoplait cups.

  13. gambit,

    You people are Ka-Razy ~@_@~

  14. Matt,

    I bought a few containers of Yoplait when they were on sale the other week (cheap enough for me to get over the whole stupid container thing). I saw the ‘crush cap’ warning and gave it a go… well, I’ll be damned if the bottom didn’t shoot off, spraying me with a fine mist of the yogurt I had fought so valiantly to get out, and then the container sprang right back to shape! I crushed it again, but with the reinforcing ridges on the top and bottom I couldn’t get the container to stay crushed. Maybe I’m doing it wrong, but its not like General Mills included an instruction manual of the proper crushing technique.

    I suppose by popping the bottom off I gave the skunk a 50/50 chance of sticking his head in the big end, but…

  15. Jon,

    Yep, I agree…stupidest design ever. There is one trick to keep it from squirting though when you open it; just puncture the lid slightly with the end of your spoon, then open it. Takes the pressure out. It’d be nice if these containers were consistent in having pull tabs, but not all do, that’s very frustrating! Again, stupid design.

  16. schisty,

    tial, dude… nice

  17. Claudio,

    hey guys,
    I’ve created a group in Facebook about the stupid design.
    Join it and let’s show them that we aren’t sheeps!

    To see more details and confirm this group invitation, follow the link below:
    http://www.facebook.com/p.php?i=1218272190&k=Z4DT2YUZ35TF6BD1QCY6XRWZWWIB42WMWTHV1&oid=408667724256

  18. a mad customer,

    Who cares about a container only hippies do. So stop being a hippie and take down yoplait yogurt! There yogurt only taste like strawberry, so who wants to spend money on that when you can just buy a container of strawberries? Only a dumbass would rathe buy the yogurt. So go suck on a strawberry!

  19. rick,

    i dont have a problem with the container but i have a problem with the contents. i bought a bunch of yoplait “thick and creamy” strawberry yogurt and all of them were inedible. the color was off and the taste was like medicine. they all were well inside the expiration date. i will never buy yoplait again.

  20. Laurel,

    I cannot believe these comments. Any of you, if you use some thought should be able to open this container without splashing yourself. Especially, if you are healthy and strong.
    I am a 64 year old woman with stage 4 cancer and sometimes am very weak. I still have no problem opening this container. In the past, I never ate yogurt. Now that I’m on lots of medicines, I have found that the “very berry” original Yoplait settles my stomach. I love the taste of this particular product. Thank you. Laurel

  21. Brownmouse,

    I saved a skunk who had it’s head stuck in a yoplait yogurt container. Poor thing. It was really stuck, and required much effort to pull off his head! They should redesign the container.

  22. Sarah,

    I think you writing this blog or whatever or want to call it, is completely crazy.
    Have you ever stopped to think about everything else this product does. Hmm.. how about Breast Cancer awareness and Box tops for education. Okay, so maybe the container is shaped badly, but the small opening limits the amount of animals that can actually get their head through the opening and the ridges on the bottom help animals with claws and paws make it easier to get the container off.
    So you should really start focusing on all the positive things this company actually does that is positive.

  23. Sarah,

    Plus you are a idiot for not being able to open yogurt without splattering in your face, I eat this yogurt all the time and i am completely able to open it without it splattering in your face!

  24. tang,

    I recently emailed Yoplait about the container design, suggesting they flip it to prevent animals from getting stuck. I got a seemingly B.S. reply about the design -aside from being “uniquely” shaped- being part of a legal agreement when they bought out the French company. I replied in turn to say I didn’t accept that explanation. Not holding my breath waiting for another response -has been a week or more since.

  25. Patty,

    Years back, my email addressing the concerns regarding wildlife were excused with a return email telling me how to dispose of my used container. I recently attended a baby shower which provided a brunch where a variety of Yoplait Yogurt was available. Not wanting to create an issue at the shower, I gathered up the used cups, washed and then sliced each one down the side and pulled the bottoms off of every container. When asked, I told the story of how Yoplait disregarded my concern to redesign, followed with disposal directtions. Wouldn’t you think that Yoplait could start a whole new campaign to promote their container with a new design, friendly to wildlife??? The commercial could state…”we heard you America & we care about God creatures just like you do.” But bottom line… Yoplait could care less or they would have addressed this issue years ago. It just makes sense. Wildlife… easier stacking for both storage & disposal. Easier to eat out of & even easier for frozen yogurt cups in the summer. I’ve heard that you can’t freeze the Yoplait yogurt as it will not release from the containers due to the stupid design. Why do they insist on continuing with it? They have everything to gain with an improved design. Their marketing department needs to have their heads stuck in a yogurt container. How can you justify promoting this faulty design? So, I do not bother with Yoplait. There are many other brands that I have used ever since their flipped response to my concern regarding wildlife. One simple little change would increase their sales to new highs. Apparently they don’t need the $$$. So I will take mine elsewhere. I hope you’ll join me by boycotting Yoplait, if you have not already. Thanks everyone.

  26. Beth,

    I have written hate mail letters and emails a few times to Yoplait, they dont care. Obvious animal cruelty aside, I get so frustrated getting the yogurt out. Some say the average person doesnt get every last bit out, I say for 75 cents and supporting animal cruelty, I want every last smidgen. The container would be better upside down, at least it would be a cone shape!

  27. Pat,

    I’m eating a yoplait yogurt this morning and I’m happy to let you all know that Yoplait has redesigned thier cup. The new design has no lip inside that can get stuck on anything any more than a drinking glass could. Its oval shaped and easier to get the yogurt out of too!

  28. fast eddie,

    the idea of the design of the Yoplait container is only to make money for yoplait. The fake bottom gives the appearance of more than it actually has. the tapered design makes it so u leave some yogurt behind so u want more which makes more money for them. many food containers are designed to only give you a sense you are getting your moneys worth–you’re not. take the large plastic applesauce containers that is sort of “beveled in”-cant scrape it all out-and all that little bit adds up for more sales for the company. Yoplait only cares about your pocket book and emptying it, they dont care about what you really want, it’s useless. Im sure Yoplait will raise that false bottom so you get only 5 ounces soon for the same price-but it will still look the same from the outside.

  29. UGH!! This is my first time eating yoplait and I actually googled “annoying yoplait design” to find this page. I had never thought about the part about killing animals – I actually thought you were being facetious at first. Then I googled it and saw enough videos to make me sick and to not be able to finish my yogurt, however yummy. Aside from that, I feel cheated by the hollowed out bottom, the foil is much more difficult to get out, I can’t close the container if I stop eating half way through. I don’t give a darn that it can stand up with a spoon in it – I keep a lightweight plastic spoon around for my yogurt eating anyhow. I’ll not be buying yoplait again. EVER.

  30. sandy,

    as per our office rules..6 scrapes of a yogurt container is acceptable. any more is a no-no!

  31. WW Cooke,

    Oh, just quit complaining that you have to leave a tiny bit of yogurt in your cup! Any product with that type of consistancy is going to have the same problem. How about chocolate pudding? Can you get EVERY last bit out? Of course not! And like the gentleman above stated, quit your annoying scrape, scrape, scraping at work. After you eat your yogurt, I bet you start popping your stinkin’ gum too, and chomp on it open-mouthed making all kinds of disgusting sounds. Then let out a enormous belch for everyone to enjoy! And why don’t you see who can let out the loudest fart too!!! It’s sure great having co-workers that care about the work environment and the people around them!

  32. karen,

    The main problem with the container is a narrow opening. I can get the food out at the bottom, but the little animals that can’t get the container off their heads is so sad. I always cut my container after using, but most don’t. Please help the little guys by fixing the container.

  33. Leora Bemboom,

    Don’t like the shape of the container and I can never find a clear print
    of the expiration date. I don’t want to be eating food past the exp.
    date. Your computer information was of NOOOO help. You had the
    questions asked but no way to get an answer.

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