Written by adam on Jul 19, 2005
Hefty Serve 'N Store Plates and Bowls
You can't blame a company for wanting to branch out into a market other than that which made them very rich and very famous. Oh to have the days of the "Hefty Hefty Hefty" commericial voiceovers back in our living rooms. What can I say, I'm nostalgic for the old school days.
Hefty touts it's new Serve 'N Store Plates as a "...revolution in food serving and storage ... ." The term revolutionary is not something I would really consider throwing around in relation to eat and toss tableware. But I will say this: it is different.
Each plate and bowl has small ridges that allow another plate or bowl to interlock on top of another creating a container to be used for storage or reheating in the microwave. After carefully reading the packages, the information sent to me by the marketing research firm, and the Serve 'N Store web site, I have found that Hefty DOES NOT say that the creatable containers are neither airtight nor watertight.
And this would be true.
The containters DO keep out dust and dirt, and they DO keep out insects, snakes and frogs. But don't think that your food is going to be safe in the fridge for more than a day or two. And definitely don't try to make a container, fill it with soup and use it to play ultimate frisbee with your friends. The issue I have with this is you almost have to waste an entire plate just to make a neat container. If your makeshift "lid" gets food on it, don't bother using it again. That's a one way ticket to salmonellas-ville.
OK, let's talk positive fore a moment. The dishware is very sturdy and rigid, which is what you might expect from a company called Hefty. You can fit a lot of food on these babies and not have the plates crumble in your hands as you fit that last chicken leg on your pile. The plates have a deep pocket, about 1 inch deep, which makes for good containment of those loose foods like baked beans, creamed corn, and grandma's Jell-O casserole.
What the plate has in depth, it lacks in width. Sure, there's this nice 1 inch wide lip on the edge of the plate; this makes it comfortable to carry around. But the the actual food surface area is so small, you can't fit more than two slices of pizza side by side. And I'm talking regular pizza, not New York style. I actually found this to be the more irritating quality to the product. I need width on my plates ... enough room to load up the plate without having to stack food on top of other food.
Bowls I'm really not quite sure what the point of the bowls is, other than to act as normal dishware for the lazy. The whole concept got me to thinking about the use of bowls. What do we use bowls for? Soups, stews, chili, cereal, ice cream ... anything that may be liquid and need a deep reservoir. Sure, the bowls could hold a soup, stew, or chili, but the heat goes right through the plastic and could seriously burn your hand. I suppose you could use the bowls for cereal and ice cream, but it only seems like someone either cheap or lazy would do so. And then, you're just creating waste.
Which brings me to my final gripe. The environment. Oh now, don't leave just yet. I'm not a tree-hugger or environmentalist wacko. In fact, I've never even hugged a tree. However, I have a problem with Hefty trying to make us think that they are doing a wonderful environmental thing by letting us know that the cardboard sleeve that holds the plates and bowls is made from 80% recycled material.
Well that's great. And while that piece of recycled paper will biodegrade in a few months, those plastic plates and bowls will sit there in the landfill for the next 600-900 years, the stuck-on-food having biodegraded many years before. Even mom's fruitcake.
You know, I'm fine with the plates being plastic. It's what Hefty does. But instead of telling us that the sleeve is recycled, why not just ditch the sleeve altogether and not wasted the resources in the first place. Save money, save time, save resources. Just shrink-wrap the plates and put a sticky label on it. Easy as pie.
Oooo ... pie would work in the bowls.
I checked a local grocery store and it looks like the Serve 'N Store sets are selling for around $2.00 per pack. Each pack has 24 plates or bowls inside. I suppose that's OK, but I don't see it being too economical if you are having a large group of people over.
In conclusion, I think that Hefty has done a great job trying to break into the disposable dishware market with a creative idea like the Serve 'N Store plates and bowls. The product is sturdy and comfortable, but lacks in food surface area. And the bowls are mostly pointless. In an attempt to make a product do so many things all at once, the result is a dishware set that does everything only mediocre most of the time. Let's let the plates and bowls be plates and bowls and let the storage containers be themselves. It's OK.
My diagnosis: wimpy wimpy wimpy!