The publication of this cartoon in the trade magazine FOOD & DRUG PACKAGING in September 1983 prompted a Letter to the Editor that was printed a few issues later. The letter was written by a packaging company executive, and I'm quoting it in its entirety, because it also helps non-packaging-oriented people to understand what the gag is all about:
“The cartoon by Stein in the September 1983 issue of FOOD & DRUG PACKAGING was well done. It points out the new packages available to the supermarket shopper; however, one package is not commercially available and is still under market test, in selected parts of the country, after five years. The retort pouch is not yet considered to be a widely used package in the United States and this is true even after 20 years of development. Giving the retort pouch “equal billing” with ovenable paperboard and seamless aluminum cans is an injustice to total market conditions. Perhaps, in the distant future, the retort pouch will become a viable supermarket commodity. But, it sure isn't now!”
And now, after all these years, I get to comment on this letter. Yes, I knew all along that retort pouches were still in a testing stage. But I used the term because I found “retort pouches” to be a very funny-sounding name for a package (even funnier than “ovenable paperboard containers” or “seamless aluminum cans”). To this day, I can't help smiling when I think “retort pouch” — try saying it and see if you don't have the same reaction.
And, after all, humor is what it's all about.