Thanksgiving Mystery: Why Are Cranberry Sauce Cans All Weird Now?

Please be advised, before reading this post, that I am not interested in being judged by you weirdo “whole-berry homemade with orange zest and walnuts” cranberry sauce people. I like my sauce the way god intended — jellied and in the shape of a can, and I shall not be moved.

ANYWAY. Can we discuss the cranberry sauce can situation?

Once upon a time, you used to be able to open both sides of the cranberry sauce can. Then, you could just shake the can a little and out came the cranberry sauce, perfectly intact, retaining its ideal can-shape form.

Like so:


It was a perfect system. Then, several years ago, they started making one side of the can un-openable. This means that you now have to do a whole thing where you slide a butter knife around the inner perimeter of the can in order to extract the cranberry sauce.

THIS MAKES NO SENSE. It ruins everything. Not only is it a more complicated system, but you then end up with mostly non-can-shaped cranberry sauce, which is obviously incorrect. The ridges are important! Also you often end up with like, pieces of the cranberry sauce at the bottom, which is a waste! It’s all wrong.

Is there a reason why cranberry sauce cans have changed? Does anyone know? Is it some kind of safety issue? Did a child choke on a can that was open on both sides? I have Googled, but to no avail. Because it’s not just Ocean Spray – it is every kind of cranberry sauce can out there.

Now, diligent reporter that I am, I called the Ocean Spray help line to get some info. Unsurprisingly, being that this is the day before Thanksgiving, I was on hold for some time. The customer service representative explained to me that now, instead of having the can open on both sides, they put the label on the can upside-down, so that when you open it the cranberry sauce, in theory, slides out. She insisted that this makes it so you don’t have to open both sides. But clearly, this is not true. I have tried. That upside-down label is not helping anyone either.

The customer service rep also said that it was more cost-efficient than having the can open on both sides, although now I am wondering why other canned food products still open on both sides despite this feature not being an asset for those products. If it’s so cost efficient, why isn’t everyone doing it? Huh? HUH?!?!

I also emailed Ocean Spray yesterday, also asking why they stopped making cans that open on both sides. Today, I received this incredibly condescending email:

Hello Robyn,

Thanks for contacting us over here at Ocean Spray, where we pride ourselves for 85 years of taking great care in harvesting and manufacturing our products.

We were concerned to hear that you had difficulty reading the label, believing it is on upside down. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused. Ocean Spray intentionally put the label on so the rounded end of the can is on the top. The reason for this is to assist in getting the sauce out in the shape of a log. By storing it with the label correctly displayed a small air pocket will form at the top of the can which makes the sauce come out more easily upon inverting and opening. Consumer input is important to us and we have forwarded your comments to our Marketing Department.

While we regret your disappointing experience with our product, we do appreciate the fact that you took the time to bring this matter to our attention. It is our desire to bring you the finest products available. As a gesture of goodwill, we are sending you a complimentary coupon in the mail. Please allow seven to ten business days for your coupon to arrive. Thank you for choosing Ocean Spray. If we can be of any further assistance, please call us at 1-800-662-3263.

Tastes Good. Good For You.

And Your Friends at Ocean Spray


I can read just fine, Ocean Spray, I am not Jordan Catalano. I am also not stupid – IT IS YOUR CANS THAT ARE STUPID. Also, what is with signing a letter “And Your Friends at Ocean Spray”? What even is that? Do they mean from? Who are they to be insinuating I have trouble reading a label when they cannot even sign a letter properly? Clearly, my concern is not the label being “upside down,” but the fact that the cans no longer open on both sides and their whole “upside down” design does not actually allow the cranberry sauce to slide out like they are claiming it does.

I guess all we can do now is hope that someday, Big Cranberry comes to their senses and brings back the kind of can you can open on both sides. Until then, Thanksgiving will not be the same.