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Monday, October 11, 2004

Take away bags

Whilst walking around Birmingham earlier today trying to find the Carling Academy and munching on my KFC Zinger Tower burger, my thoughts were firmly on HCI (as they always should be of course) - which might explain why it took us half an hour to find the Academy.

The thought which had popped into my head was regarding the brown paper 'take away' bag my meal was sold in. KFC aren't the only guilty ones - McDonald's, Burger King, you name it, they all have the same problem with their take away bags.

The problem is simple: when walking and eating, the bag is just large enough to comfortably hold enough food to feed a hungry student. But the top of the bag is too small to comfortably get your hand inside, fumble around for a handful of chips or chunk of burger, and withdraw it safely without spilling everything out of the bag (or maybe it's just me). Plus you either have to balance the bag on your hand, squash it (and the food contained inside) under your arm, or grip the top of the bag - often leading to unfortunate ripping accidents.

One of the useful things about the bag's design is that it's stored flat and opens up in an instant - useful for busy till staff, and ideal for storeroom managers who need to cram in as many thousands of bags as possible. With those features in mind, I believe a more useful take away container would be a pop-up cardboard box/tray which would therefore be sturdy (so less prone to ripping), easy to access due to the extra width and less depth involved, and also provide a useful tray for in-car dining.

Before anyone says "Happy Meal boxes", don't: they're just about the worst possible shape (cubical) and even rocket scientists struggle to correctly close the box (you put your thumbs *in* at the middle and rotate the top *outwards*!)

Before any American mega-corporation tries to patent my ideas, I claim prior art :-)


  • When considering a product a company can not just consider an HCI perspective although it in important the main aim of a company is to make profit and spend as little as they can on suppling that product! Which is why these fast food chains supply brown paper bags for takeaway food as it is simply the cheapest for them!

    Customers who are chossing not to sit in the resturant thats provided and are being given these bags free of charge which ultimately is costing the company more money! That takeaway customers are not being charged for which is why some resturants have a takeaway menu with higher prices than the sit in menu!

    There are also environmental issues to consider! Littering! The paper bag is far more bio-degradable than cardboard or polystyrene!

    So if you in fact wanted a super dooper take away meal container the company would infact have to recoop the money spent by charging you more! Myself as a poor student would rather have the paper bags and spend less as at the end of the day im just going to throw the container away in about 5 minutes and i would prefer it to be as environmentally friendly as possible!

    By Blogger Natalie Cryan, at 13 October 2004 at 12:06  

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