salt packets that crack

Why do some individual servings of salt (and nothing else as far as I know, except maybe pepper) come in those little packets with two tubes of salt that you ‘crack’ open to pour the salt out? Does this have to do with people wanting the option of only using one tube’s worth of salt, salt being kept in packaging making it less likely that you spill some when opening it due to cultural beliefs, some patent held by a salt company somewhere, or something else entirely? Just curious…

As a WAG (based on some structural engineering background), I think you might need that diameter tube to get enough stiffness for a good break. The tube is going to have to provide more resistance against bending than the amount of tension it takes to snap the tube along the perforated line. If the tube were larger in diameter, it’d probably just bend. If you kept the same diameter tube but wanted the same salt capacity, the tube would have to be twice as long which would be less portable and more breakable.

any idea as to why salt in particular necessitates the kind of packaging that does crack open like this and not, say, something simpler such as that you find individual servings of sugar in?

OK, this is a total guess, but the tube design may make it easier to sprinkle the salt (say over fries) rather than pour it as you would with sugar. But I’ve also noticed plenty of packets of salt in the simple sugar-type envelopes as well. (I think McDonalds uses the simpler packaging.) There must be some marketable advantage tho’ since the tubes must be more expensive to manufacture than the envelopes.

Dangit, now I"m obsessed with finding out where to even get those things. I did find the Condiment Packet Museum ( :dubious: ) with pictures of assorted salt and pepper packets. It looks like that contrary to my recollection, it’s primarily the chains (McDOnalds, Burger King, Sonic) that use the tubes. But I can’t read the label clearly enough to spot a manufacturer.

wow… what a bizarre site. thanks for the help though.

Wouldn’t salt eat through a paper pouch, like sugar comes in?

Um, no, why?

Besides, the tubes are paper as well.

I think tremorviolet is on the right track – by breaking open the tubes, you have a way of controlling how much salt (or pepper, usually if the place has the salt in those packages it has the pepper in them as well) you add to your food. Sugar (or other sweetener) comes in pre-measured servings, so the consumer knows how many packets s/he wants – but salt and pepper is usually added much more “to taste,” which is much more variable. (Cf, in nice restaurants, when they come around with that big ol’ phallic pepper mill – it’s up to you to say “when.”)