Can we talk about tuna cans?

photo credit: Varda Epstein

For years we couldn’t get American tuna in Israel. We’d beg our parents to bring it to us on their yearly jaunts to see the kids and oohed and ahhed over this product that had once seemed ubiquitous, back in our childhoods. And no. Don’t even suggest that we eat the Israeli tuna (sticking finger down throat).

At long last we get Starkist Chunk Light Tuna (though not white albacore, sadly), had it for years, actually, but now they’ve gone and diddled with the can design. Starkist we can now get aplenty in the Holy Land, albeit with a ridiculous POP TOP lid.

Let’s examine this design idea, shall we? Take Starkist packed in water. Aim the can one way, the juice squirts you straight in the eye. Aim it in the other direction, it goes on your clothes and you have the choice of showering and changing or perfuming your home with eau de Starkist as you go about your chores.

photo credit: Varda Epstein

And draining the product? The lid CURLS when you pull the tab. How are you supposed to drain tuna the way God intended, by pushing the lid firmly into the can while upending the whole shebang and letting the liquid squeeze out the sides, without losing at least a quarter of the can’s contents?

Time’s up. MEEP.

Answer: you cannot!

Don’t even get me started on tuna packed in oil. The minute I start yanking on the tab, the oil gurgles over the side of the can, onto the counter, the floor, and my hands. The tab and my hands get so coated in oil that about a quarter of the way across, the damned pull tab becomes useless because my slippery finger can’t get any traction on the equally-slippery pull tab. I curse and dig the tuna out of the half-opened can with the tip of a knife, usually shredding my hand in the process and requiring first aid.

I have learned to stack the cans when opening several at a time which at least gives me a fighting chance, since the cans are now closer to eye level. On the other hand, it’s important to wear goggles.

photo credit: Varda Epstein

In addition to these aforementioned design issues, I note that the bottom inner edge of the can has a deeper ridge than in the former design, and a great deal of tuna gets stuck in the rut. This is probably necessary for the vacuum that is needed to make the pop top successful. I estimate that I am losing one-eighth of the can’s contents to poor design. As a mother of a large family, I never make fewer than 6 cans of tuna at any one time, so this is a significant amount of protein literally going down the drain.

photo credit: Varda Epstein

Now I want you to know that I did the American thing and complained directly to the company.  I looked them up on Google and wrote to them via their company website “contact us” link. But did they send me an apologetic note, coupons, and all kinds of neato freebies? NO! Nada. Zilch.

photo credit: Varda Epstein

It is quite bad enough to have to deal with milk in bags that look suspiciously like deformed cow udders and perform much the same way. Additionally, it sucks to deal with teeny tiny paper packets of baking powder. However, I have come to expect packaging issues with Middle Eastern products. This, I tell myself, is part of the sacrifice of living in the Holy Land and I accept these challenges wholeheartedly.

But this business with Starkist’s pop top cans? It’s simply un-American!