this thing's incredible

This Expandable Pill Organizer Is My Mary Poppins Medicine Cabinet

Photo: Alyse Whitney

My party trick is more of an after-party trick. When friends complain about a headache the morning after too many Dirty Shirleys or worry about eating a scoop of ice cream because they’re sensitive to dairy, I pull out my bag of tricks: a pink, expandable pill organizer that’s my medicine cabinet on the go.

I call it my Mary Poppins Medicine Cabinet, because it is small — a little larger than a deck of cards — but mighty, housing an array of neatly organized over-the-counter drugs including ibuprofen, Imodium, Lactaid, various allergy meds, Midol, and a few vitamins and supplements. The compartments are all labeled with neon stickers (so I can hand the whole thing over to a friend in need), and the case opens with the flourish of French doors in a Nancy Meyers movie (so they can retrieve what they need), then satisfyingly snaps shut with its magnetic closure.

Whether I’m going to dinner, drinks, karaoke, or elsewhere, I have my pills on me. That makes me sound like a dealer, but I’m just making sure no one, including myself, is ever in any discomfort. I’ve saved friends from bathroom emergencies, allergy attacks, and period cramps using my magical little pink box.

It is so incognito that I have never been stopped at a concert, airport, or anywhere else where someone rustles through your bag. It looks almost like a hard plastic wallet from the future and somehow does not attract dirt. Mine is baby pink and only has one tiny scuff mark on it — in spite of being matte in texture and carried in multiple purses throughout the past year. And it is easy to wipe clean with a damp cloth if it gets dirty. The compartments come in three different sizes: one larger section (3 by 2 inches), two medium (1.5 by 2 inches), and four small (1 by 2 inches) to fit different quantities and sizes of pills. The compartments are about a quarter-inch deep, so they accommodate flatter pills better, and larger pills like cold medicine or omega-3 will not fit.

The only mildly negative thing about this case is that when I first got it, I had to really work to pop those plastic doors open on each section. They stay closed tightly to avoid pills spilling everywhere, but as someone who often has a fun nail-art manicure, I have to very carefully pry them open without using my nails. But as I’ve had mine for a year now, it’s much easier to open and close, and I’ve never had a pill spillage.

I am thinking about buying another one — in a different color, as it also comes in shades like baby blue, mint green, and white — to organize my daily pills and supplements rather than using those bulky, ugly pill organizers for every day of the week. You could use this organizer as a compact travel case for jewelry or to hold hanging hardware like screws, nails, anchors, and hooks. It would make a great sewing kit too.

There’s a clear version of the case, and I’m contemplating filling its sections with different spices: flaky salt, cracked black pepper that I grind myself, garlic powder, Aleppo pepper, gochugaru, MSG, or anything that could enhance meals on the go — whether underseasoned takeout or breakfast at an Airbnb. In the meantime, I’ll continue to play pharmacist occasionally and keep my hangover remedies and allergy meds on me everywhere I go.

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This Pill Organizer Is My Mary Poppins Medicine Cabinet