Fridge Pack 2.0

I drink a lot of Coke Zero. Kroger”s “Limit 6 with additional $15 purchase” policy during Coca-Cola sales is aimed directly at me. One time, I actually took $15 worth of stuff out of my cart and came back for it just so I could get another 6 Fridge Packs. It was a really good sale.

So a change in Coke”s refrigerator-friendly 12-pack is not going to go unnoticed by The Cap”n.

If you”re not familiar with the Fridge Pack, it offers two basic improvements over traditional 12-pack cartons that make it ideal for storing and retrieving cans from a refrigerator:

- Instead of stacking cans in three rows of four, the Fridge Pack is two rows of six cans, thus making the package lower and longer – the depth of a standard refrigerator shelf, in fact.

- The top front section of the package is perforated, so you open the package by ripping off the corner. This turns the package into a handy dispenser. I actually met the guy who designed the Fridge Pack a couple of years ago. It was at some Atlanta marketing awards thing (yes, The Cap”n was up for an award for a product at TWMBIC), and among the things being recognized was the then-new Coke Fridge Pack. Free lunches must be hard to come by at Coke headquarters, because the Fridge Pack Guy actually attended the awards thing. Of course I took the opportunity to say hello and praise Fridge Pack Guy for improving my life.

[editor"s note: The Wisdom staff understands that Coke"s adoption of the "Fridge Pack" has been the subject of a patent-infringement lawsuit and would like to note that nowhere on the current packaging is "Fridge Pack" mentioned. The use of "Fridge Pack" in this article is for the common man"s understanding of the packaging"s design and functionality.]

The wife came home from Kroger last week with a fresh supply of Zero, and the Fridge Packs were a mix of the usual flimsy design and a brand-new version apparently rolled out with Coke”s Olympic promotion. A closer examination was clearly in order.

There are three major changes to the Fridge Pack that each solve a particular problem experienced with Fridge Pack 1.0.

First, Coke has improved the opening mechanism by adding an “OPEN HERE” tab (the new package is on top):

With the old package (at bottom), opening the thing was a four-finger job. You had to get even pressure across the whole top perforation to avoid crushing the whole thing.

Second, the design of the front opening has changed completely – and very much for the better:

The old package opened nearly all the way down the front, which not only automatically ejected the first can (which isn”t always what the user wants to happen), but resulted in a very real risk that you”d rip open the entire front of the package and dump cans all over your kitchen floor.

The new package”s front opens only down to a level slightly higher than the bottom of the top can. Profile and head-on shots of the two open Fridge Packs show the difference:

Getting cans on the bottom row out of the new package is slightly harder, but the added package stability is worth it.

The last change is the most fundamental and addresses the other main cause of Fridge Pack failure. The old package was sealed down the middle of the bottom panel, which greatly amplified the weakness of the deep-cut front opening. If you didn”t pull the perforation off cleanly, you were basically splitting the entire package in two. And sometimes the seal would fail before you even opened the package, again dropping cans all over the place.

The new Fridge Pack is sealed at the edge of the bottom panel, which appears to give more stability to the package both in its natural and open states:

The introduction of the Fridge Pack was a fundamental shift in how consumers buy, store and access beverages. Version 1.0 had some major flaws, but it”s good to know Coke”s on the case (so to speak) to improve the experience.

So thanks, Coke. For making my Fridge Pack better – even if you don”t call it that anymore.

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