We’re in the second week of school, and we’re once again looking at some of the “too cool for school” supplies we needed to brave the hallowed halls of education!
A special thanks to Retroist/Pop Culture Retrorama contributor Rockford Jay for this fun fact about the Stuff It Binder from last week’s Class Act school supplies:
Appparently, it was used as a 24th century briefcase on Star Trek: The Next Generation!
I always love fun facts like this, so if you have anything – be it a personal reflection, story you’ve heard from someone else. or a fun fact – please don’t forget to share it with the class! It will wind up here, you will get some credit, and the people that see it will be enlightened. You never know, it could shake the shyness out of others to share their own stories!
Anyway, on to today’s topic we shall go!
Today, we move on to a school supply that, as opposed to last week’s Locker Answering Machine and pocket folders with pictures of toned butts in tight jeans, people actually had.
Anyone else have an inferiority complex?
And boy, did they have them.
Looseleaf Loser No More!
The Trapper Keeper has a history that goes back before alot of us were either carrying these around school, or for that matter, either in school or alive.
Invented in 1978, the Trapper Keeper was the creation of E. Bryant Crutchfield, the Director of New Ventures at Mead. At the time, the binder was sold in combination with folders called “Trappers.” These folders were different from other other pocket folders in that the pocket’s three sides connected at the bottom, top, and outside edge, as opposed to the bottom, top, and spine. This design prevented papers from slipping out once the Trapper was closed.
These were absolutely my favorite folders in school, and they lived up to their name!
The folders were three-hole punched, and could be put into any three-ring binder…including the Trapper Keeper.
The original Trapper Keepers closed with a metal buckle, but a few years after the first Trapper Keepers were on the market, this was modified to a Velcro strap, which allowed for easier opening and closing, and more efficient manufacturing.
The Trapper Keeper was tested in Wichita, Kansas, in August 1978. To the surprise of Crutchfield, the concept sold out.
I’d say a star was born right then and there, but it would really take off in the years to come.
1988-1995: The Designer Series
Ten years after the Trapper Keeper became the school supply of choice, and seven years after the buckle was modified, Mead created “The Designer Series,” arguably the most well-remembered version of the Trapper Keeper for kids going to school in the 1980s and 1990s. Psychedelic designs, licensed characters, Lisa Frank, and an all-around fashionable look gave the Trapper Keeper the boost it never knew it needed!
The Rainbow/Hearts/Clouds Trapper Keeper was for our love of Rainbow Brite and The Care Bears. You know it.
The Trapper Keeps On Going…
The Trapper Keepers, despite the designs that were super popular in the late 1980s until the mid 1990s, were not a fad item. Popular for its time, yes, but it didn’t go the way of the dinosaur Trapper Keeper…
The Trapper Keeper, through modernization in its designs (all those cool, trendy designer series Trapper Keepers were not cool by the mid-1990s), as well as cosmetic changes (swapping out the Velcro strap for a magnetic closure in 2007), the ability to customize the cover (also in 2007), as well as the introduction of Snapper Trappers in 2014.
What are Snapper Trappers, you ask?
Why, plastic strips that act as dividers that can have regular notebooks attached to them.
Also in 2014, Trapper Keeper had a line of tablet covers for iPad and Android tablets, just in case you really wanted to recapture that feeling of being cool with your big Trapper Keeper!
So, You’re Wondering…
Did I have one?
Well, I did mention earlier that I had one. In second grade, I got my super cool Trapper Keeper. It was one of the Designer Series binders, which also bore the mark of Lisa Frank awesomeness. This was in 1990-1991. I kept that binder past second grade, using it at home for a few more years. It was huge, bigger than my backpack was. But it was super cool, and I loved the feeling of having one.
Which one did I have, you ask?
OMG, Trapper Keeper and Lisa Frank. The Quintessential Trapper Keeper of Girls Who Apparently Love Flamingos. It was (neon!!!) pink on the inside, and played on the idea that flamingos loved going to the beach, and somehow had the ability to build sandcastles, dig in the sand, and play with a beach ball.
Oh, and you got your moon in broad daylight. What’s with that? I’m wondering what hallucinogenics Lisa Frank’s designers were on when they dreamed up images like this.
But, regardless of its bizarre nature, I LOVED this binder! It was super pretty, if not super bizarre. Sums up the early 90s, if you ask me!
I had already planned on writing about Trapper Keepers about a month ago, but this popped up in my Facebook feed, which is proof that sometimes your destiny is in your Facebook timeline…
I had no idea The Care Bears designed a Trapper Keeper cover!
Of course, no trip down memory lane, or ounce of personal nostalgia, is complete without a trip into the commercial archives!
There’s Jeffrey the Looseleaf Loser…
Upload via John Duncan
The garden variety of excuses for not turning in homework…
Upload via Big Fat Panda (whose brother is holding it for ransom!)
And this incentive for getting a Trapper Keeper…
Upload via Yesterzone
You – yes you! – can carry Aunt Becky’s books!
Upload via Commercial Rewind
Upload via that90sguy
And Now, You!
There are those that have it…and those that don’t!
Did you have a Trapper Keeper, be it the early verison, or something from the famous Designer Series collection?
Sound off in the comments, or be social on social media! And if you remember which one you had, share some photos!
And don’t forget, if you ever have anything to add to something you’ve seen here, don’t hesitate to mention it! Your contribution will be featured!
So, don’t forget, no one likes a looseleaf loser, and Aunt Becky will let you carry your books if you get a Trapper Keeper. Keep that in mine, and you’ll be just fine.
Next week, something else for “Too Cool for School” Month!
Have a great day!
I remember getting the plain blue trapper keeper, I honestly thought I was the coolest kid at school. I’m sure it matched my parachute pants and checkered painters cap (wow I’m dating myself). I always liked that tab that you pulled to make the binders open. When my Trapper Keeper died, I got bored and cut the plastic cover, only to discover that the cardboard underneath had a picture on it. It was a picture of horses in a field or something, I felt like I had discovered some ancient tomb.
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Oh wow. That’s really cool – a hidden surprise? Never even would have thought to cut the cover on my awesome acid trip flamingo Trapper Keeper!
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