It seems like it would be easier to squeeze salsa from a plastic bottle instead of spoon it from a jar. Or shop for shoes if they were hanging in clear plastic pouches instead of stacked in boxes.

Or put holiday lights in a reusable package rather than throw them into a tangled pile.

Three teams of UW-Stout students thought so, and a panel of national judges wholeheartedly agreed. The innovative ideas swept the first three places in the student division of the national AmeriStar packaging competition.

The students, all UW-Stout packaging majors, were honored in May at the Institute of Packaging Professionals banquet at the Marriott Chicago O’Hare hotel in Rosemont, Ill.

UW-Stout not only took the top three national awards but claimed two of the three honorable mention awards. UW-Stout also took first place last year.

The competition called for a package redesign of an existing product. “I knew all of my students’ designs were strong, but to sweep against so many other creative packages from other great schools was a real surprise,” said Robert Meisner, assistant professor who taught the Package Development class that produced the entries.

Squeezable salsa