Tip of the Day (to nutrition vendors): Do not make your packaging impossible to open

A couple weeks ago while riding the Seattle Century with my Dad, I decided to try out some FRS nutrition that was in plentiful supply around the start area and aide stations.  I did this mostly because it was free, and secondarily because it was…well…free.

At first glance they seemed like a fairly straight forward way to get in calories.  Little baggie of sorts that had some untold amount of caloric goodness contained within.  Actually, it probably was a told amount, I just didn’t bother to read it.  As you may remember from my ride though, I was more interested in having a good time and ingesting everything the aide stations had to offer…since it was all free (especially the fresh pie!).  Utilizing the free nutrition bettered both this goal, as well as a similar goal to get my money’s worth. Simple, right?

So anyway, these little packages had various flavors and around the 20ish mile marker I figured I’d try whichever one I pulled from my back jersey pocket first.

Turned out to be flavor ‘yellow’.

Now, keep in mind that I’m bumbling along riding at a good clip on at this point a meandering bike path.  Dodging all the usual suspects: Bikes, runners, potholes, squirrels, randomly placed poles and the odd camel. Ok, maybe not the camel. But there were occasional cows.

After I managed (following a fair bit of frustration) to open the package, I’m happy to be close to the goodness contained within.

Except, what to my wondering eyes should appear?  No, not eight tiny reindeer.  But rather instead a pile of tiny signed, sealed and damn-near impossible to get open bits. Yet another barrier awaits!


Each little piece of whatever it was, was individually wrapped in a virtually impenetrable cloak of highly reinforced tinfoilesqe sealant.  A wrapper that could probably be used to shield one from radiation poisoning it was so tightly vacuum sealed to whatever it enclosed inside.

It took me another 1-2 minutes to get just one of these darn things open while I sped along trying to avoid all the aforementioned obstacles.  And that was just getting one of the little Starburst wannabe things opened. This all for a net nutritional value of less calories than it took me to actually open the thing. In scientific journals across the endurance nation this is called ‘negative nutrition’, whereby the act of obtaining the nutrition exceeds that offered by it. This is a failure.

Thus, I offer the following bit of advice (no, not wrapped in tinfoil with gold semi-engraved printing) to nutrition vendors: Please, for the love of all things yellow – make your nutrition packages penetrable in scenarios other than your hip board room conference tables by a qualified surgeon with an scalpel. Consider taking your product to a water park. If you can’t open the packaging before you reach the end of the waterslide, you’ve probably failed. Just some food for thought. (Well, assuming you can get it open).

Thanks for reading all, and enjoy your weekend!


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  1. that ain’t right. hopefully the executives from the free nutrition company reads this.

  2. i know what you are saying… but as an ex-fellow nailbiter, i can say it makes a big difference to have nails… you can do it, just think of it as part of your training! 🙂

  3. LL

    While I agree that nutrition products need to be easy to open and eat while moving, in all fairness, I don’t think that FRS (the product you appear to be talking about)is designed to really be consumed like that and is really not meant to be a source of caloric energy during events or training. It is designed to be more of a little pick me up–think energy drink in a chew. I pop one sometimes when I’m tired at work and need a little more mental energy. Their website is: link to frs.com if you want to know more.

  4. That’s terrible!

  5. Steve E

    I did the 50 mile version of the same ride. I decided to try a couple before starting the ride and found the same thing. I had to lean my bike against my car and start digging for an edge.

    I ended up finishing the packet after the ride at my car before heading home.

    I had forgotten about those little chews, but when I saw your photo the frustration jumped back. Just the photo made me think “those were tough to open”, before having read your post.

  6. …and I was complaining about how unconvenient it was to deal with the powerbar packaging on the bike. That’s way worst!

  7. Anonymous

    They are FRS chews.

    FRS sponsors Lance Armstrong.

    That says it all.

  8. Great post! Had me laughing!

  9. Agreed. Additional bonus if a package could be designed that does NOT chafe when placed next to the skin during a run. (I’ve got scars from the sharp edges of my Cliff Shot Bloks).

  10. cat

    LL is right. I’ve never seen FRS market as a training/race fuel. Those energy chews I believe say take 2 in the morning and 2 mid afternoon. The race should have provided better options.

  11. I’m amazed at how naive most endurance nutrition co’s are about packaging their products. How many times I’ve been in a race and tried to negotiate opening a tube of cliff blocks only to miss the “tear here” line by a millimeter using my teeth is astounding. Should I carry scissors during an ultra? Help me. But this one takes the cake. I got a “free” bag of these things at race in June. Could they make it any more difficult? Great for a family picnic!

  12. Totally agree and LAMO on your post. Love it!!

  13. Could not open my running fuel this week without getting out the scissors – glad I was running on the treadmill!

  14. Anonymous

    I got those for free at their online promotion. I opened the package while driving back from my gym and popped the chew in my mouth. Not thinking it’d be wrapped in a foil. Ouch! It was the most disgusting feeling I had in my mouth. I’ve been staying away from their booth at tri events since then.

  15. Agreed. That is why I do not carry Honey Stinger waffles on the bike, anymore.

    Too damn hard to open!