April 17, 2005
How Much Is Left?
You're enjoying your beverage, perhaps at dinner or a sporting event, and you think to yourself, "eyes, how much beverage is left in the container?" After your eyes activate the correct muscles and nerves, they respond, "brain, I don't know because I CAN'T SEE INSIDE THE DAMN CONTAINER"
Has that ever happened to you?
Mainly this is in reaction to my Powerade bottle this afternoon, but it could be extended to anything if you think hard enough. The Powerade bottle is your standard 20 ounce, plastic bottle, in shape. Around the middle, covering from about 2 inches below the cap almost to the bottom is a label made out of that crazy anti-ripping plastic stuff that is almost impossible to tear by simply pulling on it (although it does stretch a little bit). However, herein lies our problem. The label covers the entire girth of the bottle and is completely opaque. You can't see through it at all. This leads to a problem if one should happen to wonder how much is left. Oh sure, there are other ways to find out how full it is, perhaps gaging the weight or shaking the bottle, but we all know the only real way to tell how much is left without using laboratory equipment is to look at it with your eyes. Unfortunately, this is hard when a label is blocking our view of the contents. One has to resort to taking off the cap and staring straight down into the bottle as if searching for a gold tooth that fell out.
I realize that the role of the eyes when consuming beverages is a fairly easy thing to forget about. The purpose of the bottle's contents lies in the stomach, mouth, and throat. The eyes take no part in enjoying the beverage. However, they are essential to receiving information about it. Another example of your eyes' role is actual beverage selection. Those vending machines that display the bottle and you can watch as it falls into the receiving hole, if they have more than one selection for a particular drink (three rows of Diet Sprite for example) everybody decides which to purchase by looking at which one is filled up the highest so that they can get the most possible liquid enjoyment for their money.
I've seen bottles that have a clear stripe so that one can see how much is left. The other option is to keep your label light enough that one can see the shadow of the liquid against the side. The practical part of me appreciates this tremendously. So please, if you ever design labels for a bottle of soda or a sports drink, please allow our eyes to do their job.