Enter the Mead Trapper Keeper. In the early 80's, the Trapper Keeper was the Rolls Royce of binders. Forget that spiral bound crap, or that cro-magnon denim-coated notebook, the Trapper was state of the art: A large, vinyl/plastic holder that folded open to reveal several pockets, a clipboard/penholder, several colorful folders (named "portfolios"), and a revolutionary "slider" style plastic 3-hole binding system to hold everythhing together. And what's more, when you needed to head to your next class, the whole unit folded over and sealed up securely via the adhesive choice of the decade: Velcro.
Talk about versatility and convenience! When this thing exploded on the scene back in the 80's, it was truly something to behold. Think of how you could use the pockets! Not to mention how each folder could be color coded to each subject! And what about that clipboard thing? You could put your note paper there, or keep it in that ultra-cool sliding binder system. Plus, you'd never lose your pens, since it would stay securely at the top of the clipboard!
But all that excitement would soon turn to sadness. By the winter, each of the selling points of the Trapper Keeper would become liabilities: The pockets would become overstuffed and virtually unsuable. That nifty clipboard would lose its tension, and most of your notes would be housed in the binder area. The penholder would stop holding pens, and you'd be forced to use the pockets to hold pens (causing further damage). And that revolutionary "slider" binder? It would fall apart and become more of an annoyance than a godsend. To make matters worse, that velcro closure would be reduced to a patch of fuzz, making the whole system capable of "trapping" absolutely nothing.
By Christmas, the Trapper Keeper was all but useless. In the hands of any normal student, all of its bells and whistles were quickly muted, and its shortcomings become painfully evident: Not secure, easily broken, too small, and just plain stupid, Mead's answer to the Swiss Army knife seemed more like a toenail clipper. True, there were many Trapper Keeper faithfuls who would simply buy another, fresher unit to replace their fallen sidekick, but the more intelligent students realized quickly that this "new toy" was a big mistake. To quote The Who: "We Won't Get Fooled Again"--next year, the Trapper keeper would be avoided.
Mead kept making the Trapper Keeper for several years, improving it and attempting to rectify many of the issues that made it rather unusable. In the 90's, the Trapper Keeper became a luxury SUV in a time when students would have rather had a Honda Civic, and by the latter portion of that decade, the Trapper Keeper of old had dissappeared from store shelves. True, education was becoming more and more paperless, but the design of the Trapper Keeper alone kept it from overtaking the old standby notebooks year after year.
In the end, Mead's velcro-equipped beast became nothing more than a memory. A memory of a time when pencil holders, flourescent rulers and colorful sharpeners took the edge off of the single worst time of the year for any child: back to school. And for that, I guess we owe the Trapper Keeper a little bit of a thank you.
- The Trapper Keeper has an entry in WikiPedia
- There's a great commercial for the Trapper Keeper on YouTube
- You can visit the Mead website by clicking here