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30 Things Turning 30 This Year

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Though we often forget it in favor of its younger and more popular sibling (1984), 1983 was a banner year for American culture: It is the birth year of the first McNugget, the D.A.R.E. program, and the first modern incarnation of the Internet. So if you're turning 30 this year, you're not alone—here are 30 things to celebrate with.

1. The McNugget

Evan-Amos / Wikipedia

McDonald's executive chef Rene Arend created the Chicken McNugget way back in 1979, but it wasn't available in McDonald's restaurants nationwide until 1983 because there simply wasn't enough processed chicken to go around. Oddly enough, that McNugget shortage was what led Arend to create the McRib in 1981. Arend told Maxim in 2009, "There wasn't a system to supply enough chicken. We had to come up with something to give the other franchises as a new product. So the McRib came about because of the shortage of chickens."

2. D.A.R.E.

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Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) was established to teach school kids to avoid drugs, gangs, and violence. It was one of the most visible parts of the U.S. "War on Drugs" for kids, who sat in D.A.R.E. sessions in elementary school and wore the trademark black tee shirt with red writing. Although D.A.R.E. was founded in 1983, it's often linked with Nancy Reagan's famous "Just Say No" slogan, which first appeared in 1982.

3. The Swatch Watch

Khalid Mahmood / Wikipedia

The Swatch Watch was introduced in March, putting a decidedly '80s twist on classic Swiss craftsmanship. An analog Swiss wristwatch, Swatch competed with the trend of digital watches of the day. Fifteen years later in 1998, Swatch introduced the short-lived "Swatch Internet Time" concept, in which days were broken up into 1000 ".beat" increments.

4. TCP/IP on ARPANET ("The Internet")

Kim Meyrick / Wikipedia

On January 1, 1983, the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) switched its networking technology to TCP/IP, arguably marking the moment that the modern "Internet" came into being. While the details of TCP/IP are kind of boring, it led to exciting innovations like the World Wide Web in 1989.

5. R.E.M. and "Weird Al" Yankovic's First Albums

Wikimedia Commons

The year 1983 saw the first full-length albums from two decidedly different musical acts: R.E.M. and "Weird Al" Yankovic. R.E.M.'s album Murmur featured "Radio Free Europe," and marked the earliest glimmer of radio-friendly "Alternative" music in the U.S. Weird Al's self-titled debut featured "I Love Rocky Road" (a parody of Joan Jett's "I Love Rock 'n Roll") and "Another One Rides the Bus" (a parody of Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust"), and has the distinction of being the only Weird Al record in which accordion is prominently featured on every song.

Honorable mention: Red Hot Chili Peppers released a demo tape in 1983, though they didn't release a full-length album until 1984.

6. The Moonwalk

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Michael Jackson introduced his signature "moonwalk" dance move during the TV special Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever in which he reunited with his brothers from the Jackson 5. The move was shown during a performance of "Billie Jean," and the crowd went wild as it happened. Of course, similar moves had been used before, but 1983 was the first time we called it the moonwalk, and the first time Michael Jackson did it.

7. Plinko

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On January 3, 1983, the game show The Price is Right introduced its now-classic game Plinko. In the game, contestants win chips by guessing digits within the prices of products; then those chips are dropped into a peg-board, where they fall into slots with varying cash prize amounts. If you like Plinko, you'll love this incredibly detailed breakdown of the game and its history.

8. Mama's Family

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NBC premiered the show Mama's Family (a spinoff of The Carol Burnett Show) on January 22, 1983, starring Vicki Lawrence. NBC canceled the series in May 1984, but the show continued to produce new episodes as an extremely successful first-run syndication program through 1990. Children of the '80s could always catch a syndicated episode of Mama's Family on afternoon TV. (New viewers may require a family tree to keep track of the characters.)

9. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Amazon

Originally entitled "Revenge of the Jedi," Return of the Jedi was the triumphant conclusion to the original trilogy of Star Wars films. It introduced Ewoks, a second Death Star, and gave us a peek of what Darth Vader looked like without his mask (spoiler alert: it ain't pretty). In bonus creepy points, Luke also learned that in The Empire Strikes Back, he'd totally kissed his own sister. ("Noooooooo!")

Honorable mentions:  1983 also saw the release of A Christmas StoryWarGamesFlashdanceRisky BusinessStrange Brew, and Monty Python's The Meaning of Life.

10. Sweet Valley High

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Francine Pascal and her merry band of ghostwriters launched the Sweet Valley High series for preteen girls, which ran for 20 years and 152 books. (2011 and 2012 saw the release of Sweet Valley Confidential and The Sweet Life, respectively, which followed the Valley girls as adults.)

11. The American Minivan

IFCAR / Wikipedia

The Dodge Caravan was first produced in November of 1983, featuring a boxy design, seating room for seven (!), and a family-friendly amount of interior space that still fit within a typical suburban garage. (The Plymouth Voyager was basically the same vehicle with a Plymouth nameplate on it and some styling changes.) 1983 was the first year your family could drive the minivan through a McDonald's drivethrough to eat McNuggets on your way to see Return of the Jedi. Of course, due to car model years, you'd be cruising in a "1984" model minivan.

12. Mario Bros. (Arcade Game)

Nintendo released the original Mario Bros. arcade game, unleashing the Italian plumbers Mario and Luigi into the game-playing world. Mario had first appeared in Donkey Kong in 1981, but he was then named "Jumpman" and was a carpenter—presumably he spent the next two years learning the plumbing trade and developing a hatred of turtles. The same year, the laserdisc-based "Dragon's Lair" was introduced, with fully animated graphics but annoyingly difficult gameplay.

13. Hooters

Hooters launched its first restaurant in Clearwater, Florida on October 4, 1983. Today the chain has more than 450 locations, and continues its reliance on waitresses wearing jogging shorts and tight tee shirts. From the official Hooters History:

Hooters was appropriately incorporated on April Fool's Day, 1983, when six businessmen with absolutely no previous restaurant experience got together and decided to open a place they couldn't get kicked out of.

14. Sony Camcorder

YouTube / Edmunds Bury

In 1983, Sony introduced its first Camcorder for consumer use. It was called the Betamovie BMC-100P and recorded on Betamax tapes. Later that year, JVC released its own camcorder using the VHS-C format...and we all know how that particular format war worked out.

15. AOL

AOL was founded in 1983, though at the time it was called Control Video Corporation (CVC). CVC's first offering was "GameLine," a modem-based game service for the Atari 2600 video game console. The company experimented with different business models (all involving online components) before hitting it big in the 1990s with its AOL dialup service.

16. The Apple IIe

Apple released its Apple IIe personal computer, often stylized as the Apple //e. It was released in January 1983 and was produced until late 1993, making it one of the longest-lived personal computers ever made. One of its banner features was the ability to display lowercase letters. (PREVIOUS MODELS USED ALL CAPS.)

17. Pet Sematary

Wikipedia

Stephen King's 1983 novel Pet Sematary was inspired by a real pet cemetery where the author's daughter Naomi buried her cat Smucky in 1978. King was reluctant to submit the manuscript because many of the story's events were inspired by his family (though Smucky did not show up again), but at his wife Tabitha's insistence, King used the book to fulfill his contract with Doubleday. A limited run of the 30th anniversary edition is slated for release this November.

18. Cabbage Patch Kids

Though Xavier Roberts's hand-sewn "Little Person" dolls were first available for adoption in 1976, most people had never been to Cleveland, Georgia's "Babyland General Hospital" to pick one out. Roberts worked with Coleco to mass-market the dolls under their new name, Cabbage Patch Kids. Though a few early-adopters picked up their Kids in 1982, the official launch (and the height of their popularity) came in 1983.

19. The Disney Channel

Disney Wiki

On April 18, 1983 at 7am, the Disney Channel launched with Good Morning, Mickey!, a 30-minute compilation program featuring classic Disney shorts and a brief fitness segment called Mousercize (Jazzercise had been a staple of American fitness since the late 1960s).

Honorable mentions: 1983 also saw the launch of Country Music Television (CMT) and The Nashville Network (TNN, later rebranded "The National Network" in 2000 and then "Spike TV" in 2003).

20. Reading Rainbow

Original episodes of Reading Rainbow ran from 1983 through 2006, then in reruns through 2008. It introduced a generation of kids to the slogan, "Take a look—it's in a book!" In 2012, host LeVar Burton announced the Reading Rainbow iPad app, which reached the #1 slot in Educational Apps within 36 hours.

21. The A-Team

The first episode of The A-Team aired on NBC on January 23, 1983. The series would end on December 30, 1986, but not without going down in pop culture history. (The 2010 feature film will likely be less fondly remembered.) Remember, folks: "If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team." (Seriously, you can still hire Mr. T as a motivational speaker.)

22. J.Crew

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Originally branded as "Popular Club Brand," J.Crew launched in 1983 as a lower cost alternative to Ralph Lauren's near monopoly on preppie-only clothing. The brand has been back in the public eye over the past half decade largely because of Michelle Obama's fondness for the company's clean lines and affordable prices.

23. StairMaster

Courtesy of planetc1

The first StairMaster (the ambitiously numbered "Model 5000") was a rotating staircase, with none of the fancypants heart-rate monitors or workout information screens the sophomore effort would feature, but it changed the face of cardio exercise for the next 30 years. The latest StairMaster product, the StepMill 5, comes fully loaded with an HDTV and iPod connectivity.

24. Care Bears

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Before the cartoons, plushes, and books, Care Bears were a line of greeting cards developed by American Greetings. When the characters premiered to the general public in February 1983 at the New York City Toy Fair, a series of six books and the Bears' first animated TV special ("The Care Bears in the Land Without Feelings") soon followed.

25. My Little Pony

Wikimedia Commons

As a follow-up to the popular My Pretty Pony released in 1981, My Little Pony began as a line of toys, which then exploded into a TV series, special edition and mail-order-only toys, books, and various other merchandise. The fourth generation series from 2010 (often called "G4") enjoys a cult-like following by super-fans called Bronies. But it wasn't until the Ponies turned 29 that the New York Times ran this internet-shattering correction to a story:

An article on Monday about Jack Robison and Kirsten Lindsmith, two college students with Asperger syndrome who are navigating the perils of an intimate relationship, misidentified the character from the animated children's TV show "My Little Pony" that Ms. Lindsmith said she visualized to cheer herself up. It is Twilight Sparkle, the nerdy intellectual, not Fluttershy, the kind animal lover.

26. Aziz Ansari

Aziz Ansari / Reddit

Lots of people were born in 1983, but Aziz Ansari is our favorite. Ansari was born on February 23. In 2012, Ansari told GQ: "I think a lot of people my age are really kind of surprised when they meet someone they really like." Well, we like you, Aziz.

Runners up include Carrie Underwood, Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino, if you aren't a Community fan), Mila Kunis, Jesse Eisenberg, Jonah Hill, Chris Hemsworth, and Alison Brie.

27. Microsoft Word

Courtesy of MuseumVictoria

Originally named "Multi-Tool Word," Microsoft's classic word processor ran on Unix systems before it appeared on MS-DOS, Mac, Atari, and eventually Windows. Microsoft released the first demos of Word for MS-DOS in the November 1983 issue of PC World—making it the first program ever distributed on a floppy disk bundled in a magazine.

28. Trump Tower

Image: Wikipedia

The United States' 51st tallest building completed construction on November 30, 1983. Since then, notable tenants have included Bruce Willis, Beyonce and Jay-Z, Janet Jackson, and of course, Donald Trump.

29. American Diversity in Space

Image: Wikipedia

After its first flight in April, 1983, the Space Shuttle Challenger sent Sally Ride and Guion Bluford—the first American woman and the first African-American—into space in the same year. (Canada wouldn't have its own spacefaring representative until 1984.)

30. The Ongoing Eruption of Kilauea

Image: Wikipedia

On January 3, 1983, the volcano Kilauea in Hawaii began spewing lava, and has not yet stopped. This is the longest period of eruption in the volcano's history, and one of the longest on record for any volcano. Keep blowing your top, Kilauea!

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The History of the Trapper Keeper
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In the fall of 1981, second grader Mike Ryan was walking through the halls of his new school when he realized something terrible: He was the only kid without a Trapper Keeper. “I'm sure there were others,” he says now. “But I certainly didn't notice them because they weren't worth noticing because they didn't have a Trapper Keeper.” After school, he told his parents his tale of woe, and his father picked one up—but it was the wrong thing, a rip-off made of what appeared to be denim. To Ryan’s horror, everyone noticed. “Trapper Keeper? That looks more like a Trapper Jeansper,” one kid sneered.

“It was that weird thing where having a knockoff was worse than having nothing at all,” Ryan, now senior entertainment writer at Uproxx, says. “Being the new kid, this was strangely devastating.” He would eventually get the real thing—bright red, with red, green, and blue folders. “It didn't make me cool, but at least I felt like I was conforming. Which, at that point, is all I had hoped for.”

Launched in 1978 by the Mead Corporation (which was acquired by ACCO Brands in 2012), Trapper Keeper notebooks are brightly colored three-ring binders that hold folders called Trappers and close with a flap. From the start, they were an enormous success: For several years after their nationwide release, Mead sold over $100 million of the folders and notebooks a year. To date, some 75 million Trapper Keepers have flown off store shelves.

“The Trapper Keeper is one of the most recognized school brands of all time,” says Jessica Hodges, Director of School Marketing for ACCO Brands. It’s also a prominent pop culture touchstone: Trapper Keepers have been featured on Family Guy, Dawson’s Creek, South Park, Full House, Stranger Things, and Napoleon Dynamite. They were transformed into a Trivial Pursuit game piece. John Mayer called Trapper Keepers “the genesis of OCD for my generation.”

These organizational devices would come to define childhoods across North America, and adults who had them remember their Trapper Keepers fondly. (And those who didn’t have them often remember exactly which one they wanted.) Joshua Fruhlinger at Engadget called it “the greatest three-ring binder ever created … Trapper Keepers—the way they combined all of one's desktop tools—were an early incarnation of the smartphone.” There is robust business in vintage Trapper Keepers on eBay, where unused binders can go for $50 or more.

But in the late 1970s, the people at Mead couldn’t have known that their product would eventually garner such cultural significance. In fact, Trapper Keeper inventor E. Bryant Crutchfield was just looking for the next back-to-school item, and he did it the old fashioned way—through market research. "[The Trapper Keeper] was no accident," he tells mental_floss. "It was the most scientific and pragmatically planned product ever in that industry."

SITUATION ANALYSIS

As director of New Ventures at Mead, part of Crutchfield’s job was to identify trends in the marketplace. In 1972, Crutchfield’s analysis, conducted with someone at Harvard, showed there would be more students per classroom in the coming years. Those students were taking more classes, and had smaller lockers.

Fast forward a few years, when Crutchfield’s analysis revealed that sales of portfolios, or folders, were increasing at 30 percent a year. Thinking back to that Harvard report, a lightbulb went off. “You can’t take six 150-page notebooks around with you, and you can’t interchange them,” Crutchfield says. “People were using more portfolios, so I wanted to make a notebook that would hold portfolios, and they could take that to six classes.”

Crutchfield was speaking with his West Coast sales representative about what he planned to do when another piece fell into place. Portfolios in notebooks were a great idea, the rep said, but why not make the pockets vertical instead of horizontal?

PeeChee folders. Image courtesy of Mead.

 
Folders with vertical pockets, called PeeChees (as in, peachy keen), had been around since the 1940s and were sold on the West Coast, but they had never made the leap across the Rockies—so Crutchfield was doubtful. “I said, ‘They only sell on the West coast, and what’s the real benefit of a vertical pocket?’” Crutchfield remembers. “[The rep] said, ‘When you close it up, the papers are trapped inside—they can’t fall out. If you’ve got a horizontal pocket portfolio, you turn it upside down, and zap! [The papers] fall out.’”

Crutchfield was convinced and got to work. First, he took sketches of the portfolios and notebooks to a group of teachers to find out if there was truly a need for that kind of thing. The group said that student organization was a major problem, and the teachers would welcome any product that would help in that regard.

Next, Crutchfield created a physical mock-up. Unlike the PeeChee—which had straight up-and-down vertical pockets—Crutchfield’s portfolios had angled pockets, with multiplication tables, weight conversions, and rulers on them. “It was like a textbook inside,” he said. Then he designed a three-ring binder that held those portfolios and closed with a flap. Students could drop the notebook, and the contents would stay securely in place.

Trapper portfolios. Image courtesy of ACCO Brands.

 
So Crutchfield had a mock-up of his product, but he still didn’t have a name. That came from his research and development manager, Jon Wyant. “I said, ‘I need a name for this damn thing. Have you got any ideas?’” Crutchfield remembers. The next day, they were drinking a martini with lunch when Wyant said, "Let’s call the portfolio the Trapper."

"What are we going to call the notebook?" Crutchfield asked. "The Trapper Keeper,” Wyant replied.

"Bang!" Crutchfield says. "It made sense!" And that was that.

TESTING THE MARKET

The prototype Trapper Keepers—one with the logo, one without. Photo courtesy of E. Bryant Crutchfield.

 
With his product named, and a prototype created (the “Trapper Keeper” logo stuck on in press-on-type, and the design—soccer players—held on with tape), Crutchfield went to the next step: more focus group testing. He and other Mead representatives went to schools with the Trappers and Trapper Keeper, talking to students and teachers to get feedback. He also looked for input a little closer to home, from his 13-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son: “I had access to what they were doing in school,” he says, “and I saw their lockers and talked to their teachers.”

For about a year, Crutchfield conducted interviews and focus groups, tweaking the design of the Trapper Keeper along the way. “There were probably five or six iterations,” he says. And once he was happy with the result—a PVC binder with plastic, pinchless rings (they slid open to the side instead of snapping open), a clip that held a pad and a pencil, and flap held firmly closed by a snap—it was time to run a test market, which would help them determine if the product was truly viable.

Patents on two key Trapper Keeper features: The combination pencil holder/notepad clip and the pinchless plastic binder rings. Images courtesy of Google Patents.

 
Prior to the test, Crutchfield wrote a commercial and flew from Dayton, Ohio—where Mead (and now ACCO) was based—to Manhattan, where he hired three actors and filmed the clip for a mere $5,000 in just three hours. He was short on cash, so it had to get done—but getting it done wasn't easy. One actor in particular was having a tough time. “It was very straightforward—the kid had a notebook in his arms, and his papers fell out [when a cute girl came over],” Crutchfield says. “We were about 20 minutes away from when the camera goes off [when] he finally got it. I said ‘Wrap!’ and that was it.”

Courtesy of ACCO Brands

 
The chosen test market was Wichita, Kansas. In August 1978, Mead aired the commercial there and rolled out its Trapper portfolios and Trapper Keepers. What happened next was unexpected: “It sold out completely,” Crutchfield says.

Inside each Trapper Keeper (which came with a few Trapper folders) was a feedback card; if kids sent it in, Mead would send them a free notebook. Approximately 1500 cards were returned. Under “Why did you purchase the Trapper Keeper rather than another type binder?” kids said things like:

"I heard it was good. My girlfriend had one."
"So when kids in my class throw it, the papers won't fly all over."
"My mother got it by mistake but I'd seen it on TV, so I decided to keep it."
"Instead of taking the whole thing you can take only one part home."
"Because they keep your papers where they belong. They're really great—everybody has one." 

But Crutchfield’s favorite comment—and the one that got the biggest laughs at the sales meeting—came from a 14-year-old named Fred. Fred had seen the commercial, and bought the Trapper Keeper rather than another binder to “keep all my shit, like papers and notes.”

Fred's response card. Courtesy of E. Bryant Crutchfield.

 
“Kids that age are very open and honest,” Crutchfield chuckles.

The response cards also revealed that it wasn’t just kids buying the Trapper Keepers: Adults were buying it for record and recipe keeping, Crutchfield says.

After reviewing the test market results, it was clear that Mead had a hit on its hands. Crutchfield told Bob Crandall, the regional sales manager, “This just might be the most fantastic product we’ve ever launched. I think it’s really going to shake up the school supplies market.”

GOING NATIONAL

The company decided to roll out Trappers and Trapper Keepers nationally in the summer of 1981. To prep, Mead created a prime-time network television campaign—a pretty unusual thing for a school supply. They also ran ads in print featuring Mrs. Willard, a 9th grade teacher from Wellington, Kansas, who had recommended the Trapper Keeper to her students during the product’s run in the test market. In the ad, she summed up the benefits of using the Trapper Keeper:

“Most students keep the Trapper Keeper in their locker. Then, they just change Trappers from class to class. With no large notebooks to carry around, they travel light and easy. After school, they take the Trapper Keeper home with all the Trappers inside.”

The folders came in three colors (red, blue, and green) and kids had six Trapper Keeper options: three solid colors and three designs—soccer, dog and cat, and Oregon coast, which were stock photos that Crutchfield bought from an agency. The Trappers had a suggested retail price of 29 cents each, while the Trapper Keepers had a suggested retail price of $4.85.

“We rolled it out, and it was just like a rocket,” Crutchfield says. “It was the biggest thing we’d ever done. I saw kids fight over designs in retail.”

GROWING AND CHANGING

Image courtesy of ACCO Brands

In its third year on store shelves, Trapper Keeper sales were still going strong. It was at that point that Mead made a design change, replacing the metal snap with Velcro. Crutchfield created a prototype for that, too, and pulled it out of his attic for his conversation with mental_floss. “The only difference is that it’s got Velcro stuck on there, and it’s dusty!” he says. The cover design was a waterfall—a photo Crutchfield had snapped himself in the mountains of North Carolina.

Even though Velcro was a hot new material at the time, replacing the snap with it made sense for a lot of reasons beyond that, Crutchfield remembers. One was the fact that “people had trouble finding the center of the snap to snap it,” he says. The other had to do with manufacturing. “Snaps were a lot harder—you have to put [the binder] through a machine twice to put the snap in there. Velcro was a lot easier to apply.”

Though the Trapper folders remained virtually unchanged through the years, the Trapper Keeper evolved as student needs evolved. “Additional designs were introduced annually and were reflective of what was relevant in the eyes of our student consumers—unicorns, cool cars, video games,” Hodges says.

Mead employees working on art for the Trapper Keeper designer series. Photo courtesy of ACCO Brands.

In 1988, Mead introduced the Trapper Keeper designer series—fashionable, funky, and sometimes psychedelic designs on the binders and folders that ran until 1995. “Mead employed a large amount of local illustrators to provide early artwork,” Peter Bartlett, director of Product Innovation at ACCO Brands, tells mental_floss. The company also made a deal with Lisa Frank and put her designs on Trappers and Trapper Keepers, and licensed iconic characters like Garfield and Sonic the Hedgehog for the binders. Even Lamborghini got in on the action, granting its blessing to put some of its cars on the Trapper Keeper.

Image Courtesy Cam Hughes

 

Of course, anything as popular as the Trapper Keeper will almost inevitably face a backlash—but in this case, the backlash didn’t come from students. Crutchfield remembers that some teachers complained about the multiplication and conversion tables, which they said could help students cheat. "It was a controversy at one time," he says. "One teacher said, 'Hell, we can take the portfolios away from them while they’re doing their tests.' Most of the teachers were very honest and said, 'Anything that helps me pound it in their head is good.'"

Mention Trapper Keepers to your friends, and you'll inevitably hear from someone who desperately wanted one, but couldn't have it because it was banned by their school. “The Trapper Keeper started to show up on some class lists as a ‘do not purchase’ because [teachers] didn’t like the noise of that Velcro,” Bartlett says. "[So] we switched from Velcro back to a snap."

But in some cases, what the binders that schools were calling Trapper Keepers and banning weren’t actually Trapper Keepers. “Our research has shown that what they’re calling Trapper Keepers, [are actually] these big sewn binders that are three to four inches thick and can’t fit into a small school desk," Bartlett says. "That’s the reason they’re on the list. When you show [the teachers] a real Trapper Keeper, with a very slim, one-inch ring fixture, it’s like, ‘Oh no, that’s not what I’m talking about. I don’t have any problem with that!’”

Though it became less popular after the mid-1990s, the Trapper Keeper has remained an important part of Mead’s back-to-school line of products—though it has undergone some modifications. “The main change is that we went away from PVC, as most health-conscious companies are trying to do,” Bartlett says. “So it looks slightly different because it’s made out of polypropylene and sewn fabric, but the function is essentially the same.” One line, which was introduced in 2007 and available for a year, was even customizable. “They had a clear piece of plastic in the front,” says Richard Harris, the program manager of industrial design at ACCO. “There was a printed pattern behind it, but then you could put whatever you wanted in that clear sleeve in the front.”

But the cool, psychedelic designs of the early 1990s aren’t as big a focus in the Trapper Keeper line these days. “Trapper has evolved a little bit to relying strongly on a color coding system of organization for students,” Bartlett says. But it's not all work and no play: After a product relaunch in 2014, the company added new Trapper Keeper designs, including Star Wars and Hello Kitty, the following year.

THE TRAPPER KEEPER'S LEGACY

So why, exactly, do people still love the Trapper Keeper, many decades after they last had one? For Bartlett, it all boils down to what the Trapper Keeper allowed kids to do—and he's not talking about keeping organized. “It was fun to be able to show your personality through the binder that you had,” Bartlett says. “You don’t really remember a notebook or the pens and pencils you used. But maybe you remember your [Trapper Keeper].” Harris says that the binder "wasn’t a regular school product. When you got it, it was almost like a Christmas present. You were excited to have it."

The Trapper conference room at ACCO Brand's Dayton, Ohio office. Photo courtesy of ACCO Brands.

 

Ryan agrees. "It's the first time it was possible to have 'cool school supplies,'" he says. "It made something that most children dreaded—school supply shopping—into something that at least bordered on fun."

But even the man who invented it all can only guess at why his product became more than just a school supply to a generation of kids. "When I first went to work, all school products were drab and boring," Crutchfield says. "[Trapper Keepers were] more functional and more attractive, with oodles of choices—therefore fun to have. And I had a lot of fun making them fun!"

Trapper Keepers.
CINZIA REALE-CASTELLO

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This story originally appeared in 2013.

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20 Gentle Quotations from Mister Rogers
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Many of these quotations are collected in the posthumous volume The World According to Mister Rogers, though they come from various sources, including his many television appearances.

1. On Heroes Without Capes

"When I was very young, most of my childhood heroes wore capes, flew through the air, or picked up buildings with one arm. They were spectacular and got a lot of attention. But as I grew, my heroes changed, so that now I can honestly say that anyone who does anything to help a child is a hero to me."

From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Locations 501-503).

2. On Sharing Responsibility

"We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It's easy to say, 'It's not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.' Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes."

Spoken in 1994, quoted in his obituary in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

3. From a PSA Following September 11, 2001

"If you grew up with our Neighborhood, you may remember how we sometimes talked about difficult things. There were days ... even beautiful days ... that weren't happy. In fact, there were some that were really sad.

Well, we've had a lot of days like that in our whole world. We've seen what some people do when they don't know anything else to do with their anger.

I'm convinced that when we help our children find healthy ways of dealing with their feelings--ways that don't hurt them or anyone else--we're helping to make our world a safer, better place.

I would like to tell you what I often told you when you were much younger: I like you just the way you are.

And what's more, I'm so grateful to you for helping the children in your life to know that you'll do everything you can to keep them safe and to help them express their feelings in ways that will bring healing in many different neighborhoods."

Also, regarding the anniversary of the attacks:

"[Children] don't understand what an anniversary is, and if they see the tragedy replayed on television, they might think it's happening at that moment."

From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Locations 596-606) and as quoted in his obituary.

4. On What We Do

"What matters isn't how a person's inner life finally puts together the alphabet and numbers of his outer life. What really matters is whether he uses the alphabet for the declaration of a war or the description of a sunrise--his numbers for the final count at Buchenwald or the specifics of a brand-new bridge."

From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Locations 621-623).

5. On Looking for the Helpers

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother's words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers--so many caring people in this world."

From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Locations 645-647).

6. On Helping

"I hope you're proud of yourself for the times you've said 'yes,' when all it meant was extra work for you and was seemingly helpful only to somebody else."

From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Locations 390-391).

7. On Pain

"There is no normal life that is free of pain. It's the very wrestling with our problems that can be the impetus for our growth."

From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Location 389).

8. On Accepting Our Feelings

"There's no 'should' or 'should not' when it comes to having feelings. They're part of who we are and their origins are beyond our control. When we can believe that, we may find it easier to make constructive choices about what to do with those feelings."

From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Locations 131-133).

9. On "Disabilities"

"Part of the problem with the word disabilities is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can't feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren't able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities."

From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Locations 142-146).

10. On Facing Sadness and Anger

"Confronting our feelings and giving them appropriate expression always takes strength, not weakness. It takes strength to acknowledge our anger, and sometimes more strength yet to curb the aggressive urges anger may bring and to channel them into nonviolent outlets. It takes strength to face our sadness and to grieve and to let our grief and our anger flow in tears when they need to. It takes strength to talk about our feelings and to reach out for help and comfort when we need it."

From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Locations 111-114).

11. On Love

"Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now."

From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Location 214).

12. On Humanity's Intrinsic Value

"As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has--or ever will have--something inside that is unique to all time. It's our job to encourage each other to discover that uniqueness and to provide ways of developing its expression."

From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Locations 463-465).

13. On People We Love

"It always helps to have people we love beside us when we have to do difficult things in life."

From The World According to Mister Rogers (p. 45).

14. On American History

"A high school student wrote to ask, 'What was the greatest event in American history?' I can't say. However, I suspect that like so many 'great' events, it was something very simple and very quiet with little or no fanfare (such as someone forgiving someone else for a deep hurt that eventually changed the course of history). The really important 'great' things are never center stage of life's dramas; they're always 'in the wings.' That's why it's so essential for us to be mindful of the humble and the deep rather than the flashy and the superficial."

From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Locations 496-500).

15. On Life Not Being Cheap

In February of 1999, Fred Rogers was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame. This is an excerpt from his speech (emphasis added):

"Fame is a four-letter word; and like tape or zoom or face or pain or life or love, what ultimately matters is what we do with it.

I feel that those of us in television are chosen to be servants. It doesn't matter what our particular job, we are chosen to help meet the deeper needs of those who watch and listen--day and night!

The conductor of the orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl grew up in a family that had little interest in music, but he often tells people he found his early inspiration from the fine musicians on television.

Last month a thirteen-year-old boy abducted an eight-year-old girl; and when people asked him why, he said he learned about it on TV. 'Something different to try,' he said. 'Life's cheap; what does it matter?'

Well, life isn't cheap. It's the greatest mystery of any millennium, and television needs to do all it can to broadcast that ... to show and tell what the good in life is all about.

But how do we make goodness attractive? By doing whatever we can do to bring courage to those whose lives move near our own--by treating our 'neighbor' at least as well as we treat ourselves and allowing that to inform everything that we produce.

Who in your life has been such a servant to you ... who has helped you love the good that grows within you? Let's just take ten seconds to think of some of those people who have loved us and wanted what was best for us in life--those who have encouraged us to become who we are tonight--just ten seconds of silence.

[Ten seconds elapse.]

No matter where they are--either here or in heaven--imagine how pleased those people must be to know that you thought of them right now.

We all have only one life to live on earth. And through television, we have the choice of encouraging others to demean this life or to cherish it in creative, imaginative ways."

From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Locations 540-558).

16. On Peace

"Peace means far more than the opposite of war!"

From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Location 613).

17. On Solitude

"Solitude is different from loneliness, and it doesn't have to be a lonely kind of thing."

From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Location 158).

18. On Strength

"Most of us, I believe, admire strength. It's something we tend to respect in others, desire for ourselves, and wish for our children. Sometimes, though, I wonder if we confuse strength and other words--like aggression and even violence. Real strength is neither male nor female; but is, quite simply, one of the finest characteristics that any human being can possess."

From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Location 161).

19. On Generations

"One of the greatest dignities of humankind is that each successive generation is invested in the welfare of each new generation."

From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Locations 586-587).

20. On Forgiveness

"Forgiveness is a strange thing. It can sometimes be easier to forgive our enemies than our friends. It can be hardest of all to forgive people we love. Like all of life's important coping skills, the ability to forgive and the capacity to let go of resentments most likely take root very early in our lives."

From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Location 296).

More from Mister Rogers

There's a lot of wisdom packed into the book The World According to Mister Rogers. You also should look at Mister Rogers Humbly Accepts a Lifetime Achievement Emmy (warning: it may very well make you cry) and 15 Reasons Mister Rogers Was the Best Neighbor Ever. You can also watch Mister Rogers' Neighborhood online.

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