Hidden Stories Behind Features On Everyday Objects (40 Pics)

Ever wonder how much thought goes into the design of everyday objects? Well, we did the research and found out: a lot.

And that makes sense, right? In the early days of the Industrial Revolution, when materials were harder to come by and people owned maybe one pair of jeans, or a single pair of boots, not only did newly introduced products need to be of the highest quality, but in order to stand the test of time, they needed to be well planned, down to the smallest detail.

Only later would the world come to appreciate abstract shoe designs (like Yeezys) and jeans that you buy with holes already in them. And that’s why many items we use in everyday life lean heavily on function, and far less on the form.

Of course, efficient design is very much a part of modern manufacturing too, and though we may not be familiar with many of the tiny features of everyday objects and what they do, believe it or not, those brushes on the escalator aren’t for shining your shoes, and the holes in pasta spoons are there for a reason. (Keep reading to find out what.)

As always, we’ve cited our sources at the bottom of the article, if you want to fact check us, but suffice it to say, we’re not making this stuff up.

Now, without further ado, here are the most mind-blowing hidden features of everyday items:

🧠 Pom-Poms on beanies…


First off, yes, they are officially called “pom-poms” — just like the things cheerleaders use! Second, these pom-poms on beanies and other hats aren’t just meant to be fluffy and cute. French sailors used to wear hats with pom-poms so that they wouldn’t bump their heads on the ceilings of the ship when sailing through rough waters. 🧠

👖 The tiny little buttons on your jeans…


Also knowns as “rivets,” these little magic buttons are designed to make your favorite pair of jeans last longer. How? Well, they’re placed strategically in the areas that are most likely to rip from continuous rubbing (like in the dryer) or strain (like from everyday wear and tear.) They keep those jeans in good shape so that you don’t have to constantly spend your time trying to find that ‘perfect’ pair of jeans once yours wear out. 👖

♨️ That drawer under your oven isn’t for storage…


Have you been using that drawer for storing pots and pans? Possibly that bread-maker you never use? Well, that’s not what it’s for.  Turns out manufacturers originally made that drawer for keeping food warm until people were ready to serve it. It’s a warming oven! I bet you didn’t know that. I know I didn’t. Guess it’s time for me to go clean out all my pot lids and the Turkey tray I only use at Thanksgiving. ♨️

🔨 Car headrests aren’t just designed for, well, head-resting…


Headrests are made to be adjustable to comfortably support a person’s head. Duh! But why make them completely detachable too? So your kids can have weapons to fight each other with? Nope! They’re detachable to help you survive. When you pull your headrest out of the seat, it has two sturdy, long metal bars, correct? Well, that’s so if yourself trapped inside a car and need to get out quickly, you can simply detach your headrest and use it to smash out the window. 🔨

😈 Coins have ridges because of some really shady characters…


While the ridges on coins make them easier to grip, that’s not what the ridges are for. Actually,  those ridge patterns are a relic of the past, when precious metal coins would be literally worth their weight in that precious metal. (Meaning, a $1 piece would be a $1 worth of silver.) However, some nare-do-wells saw an opportunity to make a killing by shaving off the edges of coins, selling them for face value, then melting down the shavings to sell or mint as new coins. Sneaky, though it does sound tedious. 😈

🚑 The holes in pen caps…


Why are there holes in pen caps? Because the manufacturers know you’re going to chew on them, that’s why. See, you’re not SUPPOSED to chew on pen caps, because they’re a choking hazard. But if you do, and accidentally swallow one, the hole is there to help you keep breathing while the ambulance is on its way. 🚑

⛽️ That arrow next to the gas pump light on your fuel gauge…


Ok, to be honest, this is something I didn’t learn until the age of 30, so don’t feel bad if you didn’t know either, but that arrow on your fuel gauge is supposed to tell you which side of the car your gas cap is on. And here I used to just have to get out and look when I rented a car or borrowed someone else’s car. The important thing though is that I know now. ⛽️

🥤 That hole in your soda can tab…


Seltzer, beer, soda, whatever your drink of choice, next time you’re cracking open a cold one, keep this in mind: that hole in the tab is designed to make drinking your tasty beverage easier. Just rotate the tab, then you can stick your straw through it and the straw won’t rise out of the can because of the carbonation. Boom. Added bonus if you don’t use a plastic straw, cause that just makes good environmental sense. 🥤

🐞 Wooden coathangers…


Are they just fancy wire hangers? Nope! Most aren’t just made from any wood, they’re made from cedar. Cedar is known to repel bugs and moths that attack and destroy clothes, while also freshening your closet with a nice wood smell. They’re also more durable, so if you’re in the market for new hangers, maybe give them a try. 🐞

⌨️ The grooves on the “J” and “F” keys…


Did you have to take a typing class in high school? If so, you may already know this, but the ridges on the “F” and “J” keys are there to help your fingers find their location on the keyboard. That’s the standard typing position typists (yes, that used to be a profession) would use so that almost all of the keys were just a button away from their base 8 finger placements. Basically, it’s an anchor point for the fastest and most accurate typing technique. (See below) ⌨️


🍭 The hole at the top of lollipop sticks…


Wait it’s not a whistle? Sorry, no. It turns out the reason for this little lollipop hole has to do with manufacturing. When candy makers are pouring hot, molten candy into the mold, some of it seeps into this hole and hardens. That allows the candy to stay on the stick! 🍭

🦠 Brass doorknobs…


Fancy? Yes. But there’s got to be more to it than that, right? Yep! Many doorknobs are made out of brass because it destroys bacteria and kills germs. Maybe we could inject brass into our veins to cure COVID? Just kidding! But investing in one couldn’t hurt these days. 🦠

👖 That tiny little pocket on your jeans (aka the 5th pocket)…


Pointless little thing? Of course not! We wouldn’t do that to you. Yes, the “5th pocket” on your fav pair of jeans was designed to hold something people really don’t carry anymore. Pocket watches! Now, Levi’s points out it has served more purposes throughout the years, like storing coins, matches, and zippo lighters (back when everyone smoked.) But originally it was designed to hold pocket watches. 👖

👷‍♂️ There’s a good reason for the slot at the end of your measuring tape…


If you’re the handy type, you may have noticed that most of your measuring tapes come with a little metal stub with a small slot on the end of the tape. Does it have a point? Come on, you know it does. Yes, it’s so you can hand the slot on a nail for measurement when your hands are full — which always seems to happen. Also, if you look closely, you’ll notice that the stub is slightly serrated on one side so you can mark the points without a pencil. 👷‍♂️

🍝 That hole in pasta spoons…


Even if you’re a pasta lover, it doesn’t mean you know what the hole in a spaghetti ladle is for. The hole is actually designed to serve as a portion measurement to make sure you are cooking the right amount for 1 person (or one serving size.) Cooking for two or a big old Italian family of 12? Yep, just measure one hole full for each person. Boom, now that’s a spicy fact! 🍝

✈️ That tiny hole on airplane windows…


No, you’re not gonna die. And the plane is fine. That little hole in the window actually serves two purposes: first, it allows airflow through to keep from too much pressure building in the plane and busting the window as it rises in altitude. Second, it keeps the windows from fogging up with all the warm breath of the passengers. ✈️

🍷 The indentations at the bottom of wine and champagne bottles…


Bottoms up! (Sorry.) There’s a popular belief that the indentation at the bottom of a wine bottle indicates the superior quality of the wine, but that’s not true. Also known as a “punt,” that indentation is a relic of the days of handblown glass wine bottles. The seam of the bottle at the bottom was pushed up in order to prevent an outward nub at the bottom which keeps a bottle from balancing upright. It’s also believed that the punt adds to the bottle’s structural integrity. Since modern-day bottles are much stronger and machine-made, punts serve no practical purpose and simply remain a part of the tradition. 🍷

🦷 The different color bristles on your toothbrush…


Sink your teeth into this one: those multi-colored bristles on your toothbrush aren’t just a marketing gimmick. The color (often blue) of your toothbrush bristles is designed to fade right about the same time you need to get a new one. It’s a reminder that you aren’t exactly keeping things as clean and fresh as you could be, so go give Crest or Colgate some more money! 🦷

⚠️ Brushes on escalators aren’t for shining shoes…


As a kid, I always thought the brushes on the sides of escalators were for polishing your shoes. Ok fine, I still thought that as an adult, until I found out these bristles are actually a big safety feature. Turns out one of the biggest reasons for escalator mishaps is that people get their clothes and bags stuck in them when they stand too close to the sides. These nylon bristles make very “nails on chalkboard” sounds and vibrations when they touch people, which alerts them to minding their feet and skirt lines. ⚠️

👚 Why are buttons on women’s shirts on the left?


Button up for this one! (Get it?) Anyway, you may have that on many women’s button-down shirts the buttons are on the left, as opposed to on their male counterparts, where the buttons are on the right. You’d think they’d be the same since most people are right-handed. However, putting the buttons on the left is a tradition that stems from a time when buttons represented your social and financial status. If you owned buttons, you probably were being dressed by a chambermaid, and the buttons on your left were on her right when she was facing you.  So yea, it IS easier to do it right-handed, these shirts were just designed for OTHER people to do it for you, right-handed.👚

😑 The “expressionless face” looking plate on staplers…


No, that’s not an emoji, even though it looks like one. You may assume it’s there to act as reinforcement to bend the staples, and that’s partly right. It is. But did you know there’s more to it than that? And that your stapler actually has settings? That plate, known technically as an “anvil,” and if you twist it around 180 degrees, it creates a background plate for making a “temporary staple,” for those times when you may want to hold things together, but want to easily pull out the staple later. 😑

🦷 The stripes in toothpaste…


If you’re a child of the 70s, you no doubt remember Aquafresh toothpaste and their signature “stripe.” This was in response to customers asking for something in the toothpaste to freshen the breath in addition to cleaning their teeth. Aquafresh thus added the blue stripe to their paste to indicate that it could do both. Soon, the brand added a 3rd red stripe to their product to indicate that their paste now had triple action; cleaning, freshening, and plaque control. Even though solid white toothpaste offers the same benefits, companies continue to add stripes because consumers find it easier to accept that their toothpaste can do more things when there are separate colors to indicate that it can. 🦷

👉 The number “57” on a bottle of Heinz Ketchup…


Apparently, the embossed number “57” on Heinz’s bottle is what the company’s spokesperson calls a soft spot. “All you need to do is apply a firm tap where the bottle narrows and the ketchup will come out easier.” No need to punch that bottle too much! Just aim for the ol’ 57 and give it a gentle tap. 👉

Screwdriver handle grooves are made so you can use it as a wrench too…


A lot of screwdrivers can be easily slid through a wrench and are used to create more torque. This feature is especially helpful at complicated heights and angles.

👂 The tiny dot on an iPhone camera…


Ok, so this one may be a little creepy, but you knew Apple was listening to us anyway, right? Short story: You may think that it’s some sort of miniature flash device, it’s actually a microphone that helps record sound when you’re using the back camera. 👂

🇨🇳 Chinese food take-out boxes…


If you have ever picked up Chinese food takeout and requested paper plates only to be judged, there’s a good reason for that. The Chinese food takeout boxes are made in such a way that when you unfold them, they become cardboard dinner plates. The best part? Your food is already on the platter, so you can just dig in. They’re looking at you like you’re crazy because you already got the plates! 🇨🇳

💊 Child-proof medicine bottles…


Child-proof prescription bottles generally have one or two raised sections above a ribbed base. These raised sections on a cap make it harder to remove the cap. However, if you don’t have to worry about the little ones at home, there’s a quick trick for hassle-free opening. When you remove the cap, flip it upside down and screw it back in. When the raised sections are pointing toward the bottom of the bottle, you can open the bottles easily. 💊

👟 Those tiny holes on Converse All-Stars…


If you’ve ever owned a pair of Converse, you’ve probably noticed these two little holes on the side of the shoes. It turns out, these two are designed to allow you to get creative with lacing techniques, like zig-zagging them across the whole width of our feet. The second use of the holes is to provide much-needed ventilation. Another theory is that if the shoes don’t fit properly, you can tighten them up by using these two holes. 👟

🍅 Paper condiment cups…


Have you ever asked yourself why fast-food restaurants use such tiny cups for ketchup and mustard? Based on the number of fries they serve in even their smallest size container, clearly, they are aware that you’ll be needing just a little bit more dipping sauce. So then, why the folded paper cups? It all comes down to the purpose of those folds. When you unfold the paper cups, they turn into small paper platters that can hold a great deal more sauce for all your dipping needs. Nifty, right? 🍅


Nate Armbruster

Nate Armbruster is a stand-up comedian and writer based in Chicago who is likely writing a joke as you read this. Find him online at natecomedy.com.