I Got The Rubbermaid Blues


We had it right in college. Our food storage system was a vast collection of matching containers and lids. They were bright yellow and said Gold ‘N Soft in big, bold letters. They were all the same size (they would hold a half-eaten Whopper or 2/3 of a Circle K “Super Amigo” burrito), so if you found any lid at all, you were golden. Pun intended.

It’s a few decades later, and obviously things have changed. Now that I’m a fully domesticated, highly sophisticated adult with any number of state-of-the-art food storage systems at my disposal, you’d think my fridge would be crammed with tasty leftovers packed in delightful matching containers just the right size for the food at hand.

If you believe that, you’re probably dumb enough to think Gold ‘N Soft is a dairy product.

I’m living in tupperware hell. The problem is partly my fault, since I have banned the reuse of all plastic containers. Cool Whip, sour cream, hummus—it all goes straight to the recycling bin. This plastic bowl embargo was instated when I got overwhelmed with the sheer number of mismatched lids and containers that overran one of our kitchen cupboards like a hutch full of rabbits with nothing to do all day but watch bunny porn. Oh, there were moments of serendipity, like when the lid from a low-fat cottage cheese tub would snap smartly onto a grated parmesan cheese bottom. Those moments made me take pause and give thanks to the gods of plastic. (I think their names are Hasbro and Wham-O.)

But no more. Ever since the missus and I got married, that bachelor lifestyle choice has gone the way of jerking off in the living room. We got a fabulous set of tricked-out Rubbermaid containers for a wedding gift, and all those flimsy, random containers and lids were happily banished from our connubial kitchen, where all our dishes and silverware now magically matched. Well, they did at first.

Things were great for a while. Color-coded lids sat in a tidy stack, waiting to top exactly the right container. I pride myself on my eyeballing skills, and I could look at a pan of Betty Crocker scalloped potatoes remains in the pan and correctly identify which of the three sizes of Rubbermaid container would hold it, with just enough room to cram the lid on. Don’t want to waste any airspace in the fridge, you know.

Then some marketing whiz at Ziploc ruined everything by offering disposable containers. That’s right—tupperware so flimsy and cheap that you could send a hunk of mac ‘n cheese casserole home with a dinner guest and not ever have to worry about seeing it again. Or the tupperware.

[Note: Yeah, I know Tupperware is a brand name. Excuse me while I put a Band-Aid on my Jell-O.]

I Got the Rubbermaid Blues

Sometimes there is a solution.

The problem is that after the mac ‘n cheese gets nuked and horked, it just seems wrong to throw away this perfectly good tupperware. So we wash it out, and save it for the next time we can send some food home with someone. Only it gets put into the general tupperware population on account of we don’t entertain that much, and when we do people show up bearing food in colorful Ziploc containers…which will get added to the stack in the cupboard.

Each year, it seems, Ziploc and Hefty and Rubbermaid all come out with a slight redesign of their disposable food storage products. That is to say, redesigned just enough so that last year’s lids won’t fit on this year’s bottoms. When all those lids from different eras start getting mixed together, it’s a recipe for alcoholism.

Sometimes I just cannot let go of my brilliant container choice and when I can’t find the lid I’ll close the thing over with a piece of aluminum foil. There’s a reason you don’t see commercials of tigers and bears not smelling food through aluminum foil. Foil doesn’t seal shit. Foil couldn’t hide a lilac fart in a football stadium.

There is one phenomenon of leftovers that helps keep tupperware from completely overrunning the household. It’s the Perishable Window. Think of it as the half-life of lasagna.

No one wants to throw out leftover lasagna (or carrot cake or meat loaf or anything good enough to cause overeating), so we seal it up in a container and put it in the fridge. We smack our lips, thinking of how good it’s going to taste for lunch tomorrow. Maybe even better than tonight.

But then our coworker takes us to lunch to celebrate the third anniversary of her divorce from that loser who maxed out her credit cards and left a pair of her sister’s underpants in the glove compartment of her Prius. The day after that, there’s an emergency lunchtime meeting and the boss orders in (yay, third time this week) pizza. The leftover lasagna languishes.

Fast forward three weeks. You’re rooting around on the bottom shelf of the fridge and you spot the mystery tupperware hugging the back wall, all hunkered down and fogged up from the inside. What the hell is in there? You pull it out, and when you crack open the top there’ s a nasty hiss and suddenly the kitchen smells like an orangutan’s taint. Wham! The container is slam dunked into the trash can. No problem—it’s disposable tupperware.

Since I’m a man, chances are good that I may have eaten it anyway. I’ve eaten some pretty questionable shit in my day, some of it not even on a bet. Hunger + desperation + a few beers = anything in tupperware is fair game, even if it’s the color and texture of a velveteen black light poster and the date on the lid says it came from the little fridge I had in my college dorm room.

So you’re lucky if you have somebody who tells you to throw it out, even if this is the same person who insisted that you keep that shit in the first place. I speak from experience when I say, fellas, if you can still operate a can opener, go for the sardines. Or look a little harder, and you might be able to find that half a Mo Burger you shoved in the fridge last Friday night. It will taste great fried up in a bit of Gold ‘N Soft.

   Check out all of Bob Wire’s posts in his blog archive.


Have an off-white Christmas with Bob Wire.Think of it as Gonzo meets Hee Haw: Missoula honky tonker Bob Wire holds forth on a unique life filled with music, parenthood, drinking, sports, working, marriage, drinking, and just navigating the twisted wreckage of American culture. Plus occasional grooming tips. Like the best humor, it’s not for everyone. Sometimes silly, sometimes surreal, sometimes savage, Bob Wire demands that you possess a good sense of humor and an open mind.

Bob Wire has written more than 500 humor columns for a regional website over the last five years, and his writing has appeared in the Missoulian, the Missoula Independent, Montana Magazine, and his own Bob Wire Has a Point Blog. He is a prolific songwriter, and has recorded three CDs of original material with his Montana band, the Magnificent Bastards. His previous band, the Fencemenders, was a popular fixture at area clubs. They were voted Best Local Band twice by the Missoula Independent readers poll. Bob was voted the Trail 103.3/Missoulian Entertainer of the Year in 2007.

You can hear his music on his website, or download it at iTunes, Amazon, and other online music providers. Follow @Bob_Wire on Twitter.


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