Wondering about wild grapes

Friday, February 25, 2011

Wondering about shapes.

I received an email from a friend of mine and a commenter on my blog. His name is Ernest and a very great and interesting fellow. Anyway, I am going to paste his email here in my blog for you all to see:

Hello Dick, You got me to thinking about things, with all your wondering.

I was wondering about shapes.

When I was a kid the shape that fascinated me was the Quaker Oats box. I loved that thing. I used it to make a small fort, a tower, a rocket ship, and probably stuff I just forgot about. All other pantry boxes were square, this one was and still is round. It changed a little bit. The cover is sealed differently. We used to pull a string on the top near the cover to open it.

Altoids tins are very popular with hams for qrp stuff, yet another neat little box.

I also like the shape of Tobasco bottles. Old Coca Cola bottles, the 5 cent ones were really nice to hold in my hand. They fit just right. Coke just ain't the same out of a can or 2 liter bottle. Coke glasses from a soda fountain are nicely shaped too.

In the old days you could recognize a product by its unique shaped container, not so much anymore!

I hope you'll do a blog on it some time.

Well, Ernest, here it is.

And I replied to him not to forget the small slender metal tobacco cans. When I was a kid I had a couple that I used to hold bait for fishing. One, with holes punched in it for crickets or grass-hoppers and one for worms. It would fit easily into your back pocket and when the contents were needed, the lid just flipped open.

Back when Ernest and I were kids growing up, companies tried to design their products and/or containers to be unique and easily recognizable. A lot of products today do, also, but in the most part, containers have become generic.

Just look at the automobile industry. Back when we were young, you could quickly identify a vehicle’s make, model, and year just by a quick glance. By looking at it from any angle, it had an unique shape that told the beholder immediately what it was. Try that today!! They all, with a few exceptions, look the same to me. I have to be real close so I can read the name to tell which company built the car I am looking at. What does that one car ad call them, “Cookie Cutter Cars”?

It seems that Ernest and I grew up in the best possible time period. For me, the late 40’s and early 50’s were a great time to be alive (and young).

What are some of your favorite shapes? How about the ones you dislike?


  1. The iconic Coke bottle of course and the Pepsi Cola bottle. About the quaker oats contaiors, I used one with plans to build my first radio!!! It was a crystal radio with a certain number of copper wire wraps around the tube and an old style head phones on it. You "tuned" it by moving a wire along the copper wire wrapping.

    I remember the first song I hear on mine once it was built.. Beep Beep (Little Nash Rambler) :-)

  2. Snuff jars and tins, Bulldurham sacks, those little flip open aspirin tins that you opened by mashing on one corner, milk bottles

  3. I've always been a big fan or form follows function, so I won't complain that all cars are following the same shape. It's now mostly derived from the wind tunnel for a few more mpg's, and that is okay with me.

    But other than that, yeah,things are going boring for cheapness sake. Sure it's a lot easier to print up a snazzy label to put around a clean cylinder or box, but some charm is gone. To be honest though, would you buy the a bottle that was $0.50 more expensive than the one right next to it because it was prettier? I'm not sure I would. Coke has had "classic style" bottles for a while at our local walmart. A 6 pack of 8 oz glass bottle with painted labels. Really nice, but about 4 times more expensive than a 2L for less than half the product. Maybe my generation deserves what we wrought....

  4. Ben, an oatmeal box would make a big coil. I loved that song. The Rambler pulling up beside the Cadillac asking how to get out of second gear.

    Oldfool, those old snuff jars were neat. A local old bottle collector (deceased) had quite a collection of them.

    Grant, I had a ’57 Chevy that could turn 8000 rpms and burn a tank of gas in a mile or two racing up a hill, but when driven at posted speeds, would give me around 19 to 20 mpg and it had a look all its own. Not sure we have gained anything. My Dad’s mid ‘50’s VW got almost 40 mpg at it was not designed in a wind tunnel.

    You point is well taken. Cost of manufacturing of product and packaging is the highest concern today.

  5. I think the most useful container ever invented is the coffee can. How I wish I had saved some. All I have left is a can that I use to scoop dog food into the bowl.

    I don't drink anything out of aluminum, so I buy my beer in bottles. I'll have to say that saving the bottles for recycling is becoming a PITA because they are so heavy compared to cans (I save them for my daughter who turns them in for cash for the kiddies' educational fund. Yeah, Grandma drinks beer so they can go to college!

    I also really dislike the fact that most everything comes in plastic now, and I can't find ketchup, mayo, or milk in glass jars.

  6. The worst container of all time is the Canadian milk container.

    I was in Quebec on vacation and went to the supermarket looking for a half gallon/liter/whatever of milk. I searched the store but couldn't find the milk.

    I asked a store worker (in French) if they had any milk? He pointed to a pile of stacked plastic bags in a cooler. The bags were stacked up on each other. The were just like freezer storage bags only longer and narrower.

    The idea here is to buy the milk in these bags and when you get home, you put it in the fridge in a pitcher that is designed to hold this plastic bag perfectly. Snip off the corner with scissors and you are in business.

    I guess they have some what to close the bag up to prevent spoilage but I was staying in a motel, sans the special pitcher, or a fridge.

  7. Gypsy, I agree, sure did like the old metal ones. Am learning to use the plastic ones and they don't look too bad when my wife paints flowers on them.

    Ernest, Sounds like our northern neighbors found a reall cheap container that can change its own shape. BTW, thanks for the idea and input for todays blog.

  8. I like all the individuality of the way we used to do things to stick out. Thanks for the post!

  9. Nick, and thanks for the comment.