How to Open a Milk Carton in Sweden

How To Open Milk in Sweden

A few weeks ago I was in the kitchen sawing through a milk carton with a knife, which was actually my go-to method for opening them. The Swedish milk carton has beguiled us for months now, it’s looks simple and it tells you where to tear, but it’s doesn’t tell say that you need to first squeeze the carton in a certain is-this-milk-going-to-explode-if-I-do-this kind of way. The cartons are small, so we go through them quickly, which has afforded me many an opportunity to ponder ideas like If Swedes are known for considered functional design, how can this be a Swedish product? Is it possible that this package design predates that school of thought? The cartons are also slippery, so when a particularly big splash of milk hit me after a fairly aggressive saw, I took a moment to stop and officially resign myself to the fact that I might never know how to correctly open one of these cartons, and should instead start asking myself how I might learn to saw it open more gracefully the next time.

It was only recently, at a Swedish friend’s apartment, that I finally learned how these cartons are best opened. The solution feels neither elegant nor “Swedish” in my  2-month-old view of what “Swedishness” is, but it is certainly better than “the saw”, and it’s with some shame that I admit it was unlikely I was going to put it together on my own. So, in the spirit of everyone who has ever contributed to a forum, written a blog post, or answered a Yahoo answer about how to deal with the little things as an American in a Sweden (there are many and I reference them quite often), I submit my own minor contribution, a guide to opening the Swedish milk carton.

12 Responses to “How to Open a Milk Carton in Sweden”

  1. Tiger says:

    Haha!

    Do you know that different parts of Sweden have different milk cartons? These from Arla are hard to open, but the ones from Milko are a little bit easier.

  2. Annyong says:

    Fantastic post!
    Very funny.

  3. Chesley says:

    Thanks y’all — it’s good to have some Swedish support on this matter!

  4. John Gardner says:

    Great post. I’m not sure how soon I’ll need to open Swedish milk cartoons, but your writing is wonderful, and you provoked a memory of my first attempt to open a milk container, which is sort of a plastic milk bubble, in China. You did a lot better than I did. And proved a quicker study, too.

  5. Jason says:

    Great, thanks to you, I’ve opened a milk carton.

    Now how do I close it?

  6. Chesley says:

    Sorry to say it doesn’t close. Freaky but true.

  7. Matias Corea says:

    This is actually the oldest for of milk carton I remember. Since I was a child I’ve been opening the cartons like that in Barcelona. I think it’s more a European thing that a Swedish thing. :)

  8. Ches says:

    Hey Matias!

    I’m sorry I just saw this comment – it could definitely be a more European thing, but that said, I’m in Paris now and the milk cartons look like bottles of laundry detergent!

    C

  9. Francis says:

    I’ve frequently seen this kind of carton for fruit juice. One further tip, between steps four and five in your delightful instructions, is to bend the carton back and forth along the line of the perforation to weaken it, and then it tears very easily and with far less, or even no, spillage. Especially compared with the use of the saw.

    As for the kind of saw to use, if you find the old method simpler, I guess a mains operated power saw is not recommended in case the spillage electrocutes the operator…I’d stick to a petrol powered device.

    • John says:

      OH MY GOSH!!! I TO-tally do this! the eggs in my egg carton (always 18 count) have to be setaymricmlly placed! If all the eggs are on one side, it’s just a problem on so many levels… SO funny that you posted about this! My girlfriends and family think I’m crazy and I don’t care because I know that I’m awesome to keep them symmetrical! love it!

  10. Chesley says:

    Ah the bend is crucial – it took me a little while to work that out. Thank you for your comment!

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