Salad Dressing’s Fatal Flaw

I’m haunted by wasted salad dressing.

I’m haunted by the pints upon quarts of ranch, blue cheese, caesar, and green goddess I’ve left stuck to the edges of small plastic cups, never to be enjoyed.

You see, much of our world is tragically reliant on huge un-tossed salads served with a cup of dressing on the side. This isn’t right, but it’s our reality.

Thus, in order to dress our salads, we have to dislodge a few ounces of dressing from a tiny cup.

The question has haunted us since the advent of Trader Joe’s — how in the heck do you get dressing out of a tiny cup? You can turn the cup upside down and hope for the best. You can probe at it with your fork. You can dip the leaves of lettuce individually. You can slurp up a little dressing and then take a bite of salad. (Please don’t do that.)

No matter what you do, at least 15% of the dressing will remain stuck in that cup. Another 10% will get stuck to the stupid plastic lid. Maybe a thin balsamic escapes without much issue… but the creamier the dressing is, the worse things get.

It’s high time we scrutinized our salad dressing tactics. In all likelihood, we are wasting trillions of gallons of eggs, oil, and buttermilk each year. I conservatively estimate that poorly engineered cups have prevented me from guzzling one kiddie pool worth of dressing in my lifetime.

How can we deliver dressing efficiently? That’s a very tough question. I don’t pretend to know the answer.

We can start by making sure that every restaurant salad is tossed before it is served. No one should have to drizzle their own dressing in a sit-down establishment.

Take-out and store-bought salads are trickier, as the salad and the dressing need to remain separate for hours or even days. Squeezable bags of dressing have some advantages over cups, but they remain wildly inefficient.

Maybe we need to invent a frictionless cup. Maybe we need to build a tiny sprinkler system into salad containers.

I have no idea. But if your Tesla can find you in a parking lot and Jeff Bezos can live on the moon, surely we can give the people of earth the few extra milliliters of salad dressing they deserve. ∎

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