Ever wonder why there’s a hole in the cap of a ballpoint pen, or what those little pockets on your jeans are for? Curious as to why there’s that indentation at the bottom of your wine bottle? Some product design features are just so ingenious that they completely pass us by. 

We know what you’re thinking. Levi jeans have that extra little pocket next to the big pocket at the front right hand side for keeping coins or stashing guitar picks. Right? Wrong! That little pocket is for stashing your pocket watch. Jeans were, as every schoolboy knows, invented in the 18th century when time-pieces on a chain were a common accessory and seriously envogue for any self-respecting cowboy. The design feature has remained to this day, and if you don’t own a pocket watch on a chain, don’t worry, you can go on using that tiny pocket for stashing whatever the hell you want. Those brass studs on your jeans also serve a purpose; back in the days when jeans were usually working man’s attire, the garments were subject to rip at those vulnerable points of attachment and again, the design feature has remained.

As for that hole in the cap of your ballpoint pen,  it isn’t there to let the ink breathe, or to stop the pen from drying up. It’s there to let you breathe should you decide to accidentally swallow that cap. The hole is, of course, a safety design to allow some passage of oxygen should you happen to inhale swiftly while chewing and procrastinating about say, product design, and accidently swallow the cap. Should the cap become tragically wedged in your esophagus, that little hole will allow air to pass through to the lungs and could well save you from dying an embarrassing pen-related death. And on the subject of penmanship, it is worth noting that those red vertical lined margins about an inch from the border on each page of a standard notebook were originally designed, back in the day, when books fell victim to rodents who liked to gnaw on the paper and often destroyed ledgers, accounts, and literary musings. The empty spaces on the borders of each page were considered fair game for rats and mice to have their merry way with, leaving the meat of the jottings and record keepings inside the margins relatively unharmed. But should you wish to erase the writings you have made, and you have written them in ink, you could perhaps consider using that curious blue end of the standard pencil eraser that nobody seems to know the use for but commonly believe it will erase ink. Well, yes it does erase ink, but the paper has to be much thicker than standard notebook pages…the thickness of a block of wood should suffice!      

Moving on to the kitchen, just why do saucepans have a hole at the end of their handles? Well, perhaps for storage – if you have nails banged into your kitchen wall – but the intended, and slightly more ingenious reason, is to have somewhere to place that stirring spatula or spoon whilst cooking. Rather than lay your cooking utensil down flat on the kitchen surface causing a sticky mess, simply rest it in the handle and have the business end of the utensil drip any excess food stuff back into the saucepan. And that’s not all. The average pasta spoon has a hole at the business end, a design feature cooked up, no doubt, by an Italian clever clog who realized that once having cooked up your pasta, you should take the spaghetti and slide it into the hole to fashion a handy way of letting the spaghetti drip dry using the aforementioned saucepan handle hole as a formidable base and have the excess water, or sauce, drip back into the pan.   

Ever wondered about that little piece of fabric and that attached button that comes gratis when purchasing a new item of clothing? The button is obviously for replacement reasons but that little patch of fabric rather than being, as commonly thought, to patch over a tear or split in your new favorite loungewear, it is actually a piece of test material that you should throw into the washing machine and analyze the cleaning results with a range of different detergents before committing to washing the entire garment for the first time.    

On the to the road, the next time you’re filling up gas in a rented car, check that little arrow that sits to the left or to the right of the gas gauge on the dashboard. That little arrow tells you whether the gas tank cap sits to the left or to the right of the vehicle. It really is very simple, but not many people connect the arrow with the tank. It saves a lot of reversing and maneuvering at the gas station to check the arrow first.  

And finally, vino…just why do wine and champagne bottles have those indentations at the base of the bottles? Is it to get a better grip while pouring? No. In fact the design feature is to evenly distribute pressure during the corkage allowing for a finer more measured drop of the good stuff. The indentation on champagne is deeper than wine because the active ingredients of bubbly are under more carbonated pressure than ordinary wine.    

So these are just some of the everyday things you didn’t know the purpose of. Can you think of something else you’ve always wondered about but that didn’t get addressed here? Let us know in the comments. 



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