Tamper-Free Iceland - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Tamper-Free Iceland

Tamper-Free Iceland

Published June 22, 2012

The foil seal has been torn back about 60% of the way, but not removed. When I see this, my ears start to make that ‘WooooOOOOOOEEEE!!!!!’ noise that usually precedes the sort of white-hot rage that involves sacrificing small rodents or less sturdy pieces of furniture.
Icelanders have a strange way of dealing with these anti-tamper seals, which I find rather annoying. The chief culprits are the low, oblong packages like Smjörvi, rækjusalat and paté. The image above shows the blood-boiling behaviour.
It’s worth carefully examining what Siggi has done here in his frantic race to inhale the Létt & laggott. He’s gone mining. He’s left the foil on, but opened a gap just big enough to be able to dig his knife in and extract the butter-substitute.
Leaving the foil in place seems to imply that he feels it has a function and when his excavation is complete, he semi-carefully lays the foil back in place, before… replacing the plastic lid.
…what?! He replaces the plastic lid?! Waddayamean? Clearly he acknowledges the inherent lid-ness of the lid and its ability to close things. But the foil?
Why would anyone with an IQ greater than the outside air temperature in Fahrenheit do this? Why, other than myopia so strong that he regularly buys tennis balls instead of oranges, would he put the G.D. lid back on?
So, in the quest for an explanation of what seems like utterly illogical behaviour, I asked him why:
Me: “Why did you leave the foil on?”
Siggi: “Haa?”
Me: “Why did you leave the foil on?”
Siggi: “Aah, just, ‘cos. I mean, why not?”
Curious, I gritted my teeth and kept going:
Me: “…ok. What does the foil do?”
A brief pause ensued during which time Siggi thought, and a slight smouldering smell filled the air between us.
Siggi crunched up his face and replied:
“It keeps it fresh.”
I realised that I was nearing my ‘coup de grace.’ I reached for the plastic lid, lifted it high above my head, sharp edge down, then stabbed it forcefully and viciously into the void between Siggi and me.
“Then what, in the name of holy arse, is this for?” I asked.
“Um, that’s the lid?” Siggi said.
I exhaled so hard I created a new part in his hair, admitted defeat, weakly dropped the lid/weapon and walked off, the white noise in my brain rising perceptibly.
This episode has been repeated enough times that I don’t bother asking anymore because I know the answer. Icelanders simply don’t know what anti-tamper seals are. They’ve never seen stories in their media about someone holding a mayonnaise manufacturer ransom or some homicidal maniac poisoning milk in the name of his twisted cause.
To Icelanders, the idea of tampering with food is completely alien. If you started explaining the need for anti-tamper seals to Siggi, his face would screw up in puzzlement, as if you had told to him that he needed to carry around a foil umbrella as protection against meteorites. “But why would anyone do that?” he’d ask.
So I finally came to learn that the teeth gnashing and the screaming white noise in my head were unnecessary. Instead, every time I see someone begin to peel back a foil seal, and start mining, I now simply sigh contentedly and smile smugly as I realise that Iceland is a place where tampering with food for evil means does not exist.

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