A very unusual school year is getting underway in many parts of the country this month.

It’s been a few years since I was one of the students headed back to class, but I do remember that mix of feelings.

The excitement about seeing school friends again, dreading the return of homework assignments and quizzes, the terror that you might say or do something embarrassing.

And, at least, in my time, the thrill from getting to show off your brand new Trapper Keeper!


Yes, I belong to a generation that got extremely excited about school supplies.

But of course at that time, a Trapper Keeper felt like a lot more than a place to stash all your papers and pencils.

That’s probably why it became so popular.

The inventor, E. Bryant Crutchfield, was trying to solve a problem: class sizes were growing, which meant each student would have less room to store their stuff.

His solution was an organizer that could hold vertical folders, extra paper, pencils, and other supplies.

It was portable and practical, but the real draw was the bold designs and bright colors they sold Trapper Keepers in.

They were status symbols on their own, but also a great place to stick some of your Garbage Pail Kids stickers, which is how most of my generation spent its time in school.

Over 75 million Trapper Keepers were sold.

Some are even re-sold online today, sometimes for quite a bit of money.

As for the name?

The folders trapped your papers so they wouldn’t spill out, so they were known as Trappers.

The organizer held on to the Trappers for you, so it was a Trapper Keeper.

A 10 year old in Northern Ireland will certainly have an interesting story to tell classmates about what he did during his summer holidays.

Fionntan Hughes got a metal detector for his birthday in July.

On his first trip out with the detector he managed to find what’s believed to be an English military sword, that likely dates back to between 1700 and 1850.

Not bad for a first try.

The History of the Trapper Keeper (Mental Floss)

Beginner’s luck for 10-year-old metal detectorist (BBC)

Back this show on Patreon and you’ll be as cool as a fifth grader in the 80s with a brand-new Trapper Keeper

Trapper Keepers photo by Jeremy Reding via Flickr/Creative Commons