The History of Egg Cartons: Invention, Structure & Unusual Uses

This article discusses the history of egg cartons including who invented them and the strange reason why. Readers will also learn about what materials are used to make egg boxes, the different tray sizes manufactured and unusual uses for egg cartons - including making a campfire, using egg boxes as sound mufflers and the green idea of stapling to the walls of your home for insulation.

When you buy a carton of eggs, you may not think about who invented it or the structure of it. This article will outline several facts about this item as well as unusual uses for the egg box.

What is an Egg Carton?

An egg carton or egg box is a small tray designed to hold and carry whole eggs. There are typically twelve grooves in each box that is shaped to hold one egg each. These should not be confused with egg trays, which are used by farmers markets and egg processors.

Invention

Prior to the invention of the egg box, they were delivered in a basket. In 1911, British Columbian newspaper editor Joseph Coyle invented the egg box out of paper. This invention was the result of a debate between a farmer and hotel owner over broken eggs and both parties were blaming the other.

They were made by hand until 1919, when he designed a machine to make the egg boxes.

In the 1950's, H.G. Bennett improved upon the egg carton.

The Structure of Egg Boxes

These items are made from various materials such as Styrofoam, recycled paper, molded pulp or plastic. The grooves in the case that hold each egg are structured that way to absorb shock and to prevent damage during transportation.

Although most people are familiar with cartons holding a dozen eggs, there are various sizes. Some egg cartons are designed to hold 6, 8, 10, 15, 18 and 20 eggs.

Unusual Uses

Today, egg cartons are used for more than just carrying the food item. Many people have found creative uses, including:

  • Storing small items such as jewelry, thumbtacks, coins, golf bulbs, seeds or nails.
  • Shipping small, breakable items.
  • Using egg boxes, dryer lint and a small candle, you can create a mini campfire. 
  • Painting palette.
  • Plant seedlings until they are ready to be transplanted to your garden.
  • Art projects.
  • Sound dampeners - adhere egg cartons to ceilings and walls to muffle out sound.
  • Staple to walls for insulation.
  • Use to make paper mache for crafts.

The egg carton is an amazingly simple invention that we still use nearly a century later. So next time you pick up eggs at a grocery store, you will know who to thank for inventing the egg box, what it is made out of and some creative uses you can get out of it instead of just throwing it in the trash.

Sources:

Wikipedia: Egg Carton, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egg_carton

Hiway 16 Magazine: The Coyle Egg-Safety Carton, http://www.bcnorth.ca/magazine/pages/Jim/egg/egg1.htm

DIY Life: Unusual Uses for Egg Cartons, http://www.diylife.com/2010/12/16/unusual-uses-for-egg-cartons/

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