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Individually Wrapped Sliced Cheese Named Top Overlooked Mundane Invention
by Mark on 7/25/2006 (0)

The best laid plans of mice, cheese and men are often led astray.
GEARLOOSE, CA - The American Inventors Association recently named individually wrapped slices of cheese the "most overlooked mundane invention" according to AIA spokesman Gilbert E. Edison in a review of diminutive 20th century innovations.

"Individually wrapped slices of cheese topped the list in importance, as consumers were no longer vexed with the challenging dilemma of slicing ultra-thin portions of cheese from the block, and preventing surface hardening oxidation from spoiling the outer skin in the refrigerator. Parafin coated paper cups rated second, along with the plastic punch in sippy cup lid for drinking and driving, followed by the twist tie. Stay tab pop and beer cans rated highly, as do keyless cans of potted meats like Spam, and packets of silica gel desiccant, with its nefarious, ubiquitous warning, "do not eat."

Edison snipped a memo with a pair of safety scissors, and popped a staple with a gem EZ grip, in one swift, practiced motion.

On the other side of the coin, pocket clip pen caps fared badly in importance (tend to get lost or discarded almost immediately), key style open food tins (break off and create dangerous lacerating edges), push and turn pill bottles (can often be opened by children, but not most adults), and zip sandwich bags (has anyone really gotten one to close all the way?).

"Even more important than the inventions themselves is our ability to use them with a very high level of expertise, almost always quite automatically and without significant mental effort. Everyone of us, without being aware of it, is a highly trained tool user. We go through our day opening and closing loaves of bread, cups of coffee, cans of pop, zipping open paper microwave food cartons, piercing tubes of glue, lining up arrows on safety caps of aspirin, dispensing gasoline, replacing batteries in a variety of devices and remembering to properly discard rechargeable batteries and recycle aluminum cans with very little, or almost no thought or oversight into the complexity of our actions. 20th Century Man is truly a highly skilled worker in all aspects of life, with no sense of accomplishment whatsoever in being so. That is perhaps the shame of it all."

Edison speculated that the future held even more skill intensive consumer products, with ever more refined levels of convenience and efficiency, but cautioned "If you get to the point that getting at an aspirin is giving you more of a headache than the one you're trying to cure, you just might be better off with the original headache."

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