Object Lesson: Compote

Two years ago, one of my best friends introduced me to applesauce in a plastic squeeze thing. Never before had I laid eyes on something quite so hideously wasteful. More packaging than product, the applesauce seemed hesitant to emerge from its Capri-Sun like package. The hard plastic screw top of the thing seemed like serious overkill, especially considering how little of the fruit was inside to begin with. Even toddlers would have a hard time not finishing the thing in one go, let alone hungry college students.

Then I moved to France and thought I would be in for a life sans… whatever these things were called. Little did I know I would soon become a compote-dispensing machine, handing the little devils out nearly every day at 4:00 for the kids’ afternoon goûter (snack, basically).


The offending culprit.

This is the post-comsumption waste generated by one of these things, minus the cap, which was already in the trash can. They weigh nearly the same full or emptied. The biggest advantage to them is their extreme portability. They can be eaten sitting down, but more likely they are being hurled at children too busy to stop playing on a playground; the kid, if she has some hand-eye coordination can grab it out of midair, twist off the top, and suck away while doing one-handed gymnastics on the local equipment.

Or they can just be imbibed like mother’s milk to recently weaned toddlers, or whatever. They are the ultimate in “no mess” food because the little tunnel the compote comes out of is so small that the kids really have to get it shoved in their mouths to get anything out of there. I.e. there will be no mess anywhere, except the hulking pile of trash which you’ll probably have to run across the playground, stoop down, and pick up just so you can throw it into the nearest bin–already chock full of the things.

They’re ubiquitous and weird and I get it, because I’m awkwardly filling the role of parent sometimes and I realize how heavenly it is not to have to wipe children down after every bite of food happens near them, but I don’t get it, because why is this considered more food than plastic and aluminum? Why are not calling this a long-lasting materials compote with a little bit of fruit substance in there by chance? The wastefulness is incredible, especially since the packaging is actually so strong that it’s hard to suck every last bit out.

Good lord, has snack time really come to this? Let them eat cake!


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