There’s a fascinating article in Mental Floss published last week with an exhaustive history of the Trapper Keeper. Because I’ve written about Yikes! pencils before, and I used Trapper Keepers around the same time as Yikes, this is definitely relevant to my interests.
I definitely learned things from this; facts that make me feel dumb that I didn’t know it before. Like: did you know that a “Trapper” is Mead’s name for their pocket folder with vertical pockets rather than the horizontal pockets in most folders? Therefore, a Trapper Keeper is the binder that lets you keep all of your papers together.
Duh. I knew that all of my Trapper Keepers had folders with vertical pockets, but I had no recollection of them being called “Trappers”. Doesn’t this seem like something I should know?
If I would have seen this commercial, I would have known that:
Turns out, this commercial is older than I am. Which brings me to my second facepalm moment:
Trapper Keepers are way older than I thought:
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.
That’s at least a full ten years before they ever entered my consciousness (Well, and a full five years before I was born, in 1983). I don’t recall trapper keeps ever looking like this:
The Trapper Keeper Prototype: one with the logo and one without. Photo by E. Bryant Crutchfield and from the original article.
I had this exact Trapper Keeper.
Oh, and I had this one too:
You don’t know how thrilled I am to have so many things in common with Napoleon Dynamite.
I had a very close relationship with my Trapper Keeper. It was with me six hours a day, five days a week, and kept m life organized. Eventually, I moved onto other binder organizers that were more collegiate-looking and less youthful. Gone were the lasers and psychedelic 90s spacescapes, replaced by navy blue fabric.
If you, like me, had a Trapper Keeper, you should definitely check out the full article. It’s fascinating, and brings back so many memories.