From ballpoint pens to winter hats all the way to Chupa Chups lollipops, there are objects we use on a daily basis that contain some weird and quirky attributes. For example, what is the purpose of that hole in the middle of an ink pen? Or what is the reasoning behind the bobble of a winter hat? How about those darned creases on your dress pants? Where did they all come from? And what do they do?
While some of these characteristics may be merely fashion statements or errors in production, some of them actually serve a purpose!
Here are 10 things that you probably didn’t know about your everyday objects.
1. To many, the bobble located on the top of a winter hat is just a fancy fashion statement. But its origin story speaks of its usefulness. French marines would wear a sailor hat with a bobble on the top to prevent themselves from hurting their heads on the low cabin ceilings. Later, they were used to define different branches of the military based on the size, shape and color of the bobble!
2. The colors of the lines at the bottom of tubes of toothpaste were at first thought to denote the type of toothpaste (organic or non-organic). But in reality, they are just bar codes used by light beam sensors at the factory to designate where the tube should be cut and folded.
3. The popular lollipop brand Chupa Chups is known not only for its delicious candy but also for that weird hole at the top of the stick. Although many thought it was for children to whistle through or to prevent choking hazards, they are actually created to stop the candy from being pulled out. This makes the candy harder to swallow by accident. In the production phase, and while the candy is still in liquid form, the hollow stick is inserted into the liquid so that when it hardens, it does so through the hole first to prevent the candy from falling out.
4. The hind legs of a keyboard (or the stands) were at first thought to add to the ergonomics of typing. In reality, they were designed to help computer users see the keys they were hitting. The purpose of the stands were to place the keyboard at an angle allowing the user to better see the keyboard. Bonus tip: it is actually more ergonomic for your wrists to type on a flat keyboard.
5. It is almost inevitable that a pair of dress pants or trousers are going to contain some folds and creases. But where did they originate from and what is their purpose? Well, back in the 19th century when European factories had to ship their clothing to other countries, the clothes had to be shipped via a shipping container. In order to save space and to send more clothes, items had to be folded in order to maximize the room. When the clothes finally got to their destinations, the pants and shirts would be so creased and folded that it became a part of the daily attire.
6. Many backpacks nowadays come with this diamond-shaped, pig-nose symbol on the front of the backpack. Although many assumed it was merely a fashion statement, it actually serves a purpose! Hikers and climbers alike could attach a rope or a metal loop through it while an athlete ties his shoes, keeping it hands-free!
7. Many old school ballpoint pens have a tiny hole in the middle of the shaft. Some thought it was a production error while others believed it had no purpose. In fact, this hole was designed to let air in to help the ink keep running. This air would allow the ink to run smoothly, and in times when the pen would stop running, all you had to do was remove the shaft from the ink cartridge and shake it a little!
8. The hole in a spaghetti strainer. While the spaghetti strainer may be more commonly used to separate the boiling water from your al dente noodles, the hole in the strainer actually serves as a measuring utensil. If you were to fill the hole with the raw spaghetti strands, that would equate to one full serving. Now you don’t even need a measuring cup!
9. The blue and white eraser. As children, we were told that the blue part of the eraser got rid of our pen errors while the white part took away the pencil marks. But we soon found out that as much as the blue part would hide our ink writing, it would also smudge our papers! In fact, the blue part of the eraser was designed to get rid of pencil marks on art and graphic papers because they are softer and more sensitive.
10. Tic Tacs: If you have ever had trouble controlling yourself to one Tic Tac, have no fear, the Tic Tac company actually designed something to help control your cravings. The tab on the back of the opening of the Tic Tac box perfectly fits one Tic Tac. By tilting the box at an angle, one Tic Tac will perfectly sit on the tab. Voila, instantly fresh minty breath!
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