Bad Design: The Cube


Maybe I'm more sensitized to this kind of thing since I just completed a class on human-computer interface design, but I want to find the guy responsible for the soda case box known as 'The Cube' and punch him square in the nads. For those of you lucky enough to live in an area not infected with The Cube, let me explain: it is basically one 3x4 arrangement of cans stacked atop another one. One top side flap is perforated to allegedly allow easy access to the cans, but it has the following defects:

  1. I have never been able to get the flap to open on the perforations. Ever.
  2. Most of the time, the flap is glued down such that you can't even get your fingernails under the bottom of the flap to try to open it on the perforations.
  3. Once you've given up trying to get the flap to open as 'designed' (and I use that term more loosely than Clinton used 'is') and just rip the flap up from one corner, you can - maybe - pull out one can at a time, if you can see one.
  4. Once you've done that, the carrying handle at the top becomes useless, since there's no support on the one side for it (although, to its credit, trying to lift the case that way will open the entire top of the case very quickly).

OK. Now you've got a jagged hole in one side of the case, and you've pulled out the top twelve pops. One. At. A. Time. Now you've got this stupid sheet of thin cardboard separating the layers of cans that you have to yank out of the box - through your fist-sized hole - to get to the other twelve cans. You don't need to have a second elbow mounted just above your wrist to access those other twelve cans, but it helps.

Finally, you've managed to drink all twelve pops without going insane. Now, being the good citizen you are, you want to flatten the box to put it in your recycling bin. Hope you've got good fingernails - all four flaps are glued with the same Kryptonite-based mil-spec weapons-grade glue used on the flap you've already wrestled with, and when you get it all broken down, the thing uses some trick of folded space to actually become larger when flattened!

Compare this packaging cluster-fuck to the sublime simplicity of the beer case:

  • Easier to open - there's a gap between the top two flaps that you can actually get your fingers into
  • Once opened, all twenty-four beers are just sitting there smiling up at you. You can practically hear them begging, "Drink me!"
  • You can grab as many as you can hold at one time (though I usually limit myself to six)
  • Once you're done, you can use the box to keep other stuff in (including recyclable paper, and when it's fullyou can just close the lid again and toss the whole thing in the bin).
  • If you do have to break it down, it fits in the damn recycling bin!

That's it. I'm giving up pop.


I do not use the cube, since it generally will not fit in my fridge, anyway. I use the long, low "fridge pack" instead -- two rows of six cans on their side. The only real design complaint I have (aside from similar perforation issues as in 1) above) is that the product labelling is oriented such that, when stacked on store shelves so that you can read the name of the product without craning your neck, the carrying hole is on the side. This makes it difficult to pull it out of a tightly packed bunch (gaggle? monstrosity?) of soda products.

I have occasionally gotten fridge packs to open on the perforations (imagine my surprise)! I didn't even think about that when I ranted about The Cube, but two fridge packs taped together would definitely be a superior packaging method.

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This page contains a single entry by Chris published on December 27, 2005 4:26 PM.

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