Six-pack ... separation ... serration .... whatchamacallit?
May 14, 2020 6:50 AM   Subscribe

Help me find some information about the history of plastic six-pack ring design, specifically when this nifty feature was added (or whether it has been there all along)?

I recently saw a video (on TikTok maybe?) that informed me about the serration on the outside of plastic bottle six-pack rings. For those of you who are not aware: six-pack rings have a tab on each side you can pull to remove half of the plastic along the outside of the six-pack. Doing so makes removing individual bottles from the rings MUCH easier. I'm flabbergasted by how great this small-but-mighty design feature is, and also a little concerned about how I came to be nearly 40 years old without knowing about it (lol). I'm trying to figure out exactly how long I have been in the dark, but having a really hard time figuring out the right search vocabulary. Any ideas for how to find the information, or links directly to articles that answer the question of when this came into being, very much welcome!
posted by zebra to Grab Bag (3 answers total)
Ring pack industry leader HiCone launched the "Zipper" in 1990 per this article about their 40th anniversary celebration. More info in a background piece here prepared by Ringleader, their not-for-profit recycling arm. Could that be it?
posted by carmicha at 7:41 AM on May 14

Let's say 1993, when this patent granted. Poking back in the patent literature (for funzies, while my lunch warms up) it looks like Illinois Tool Works may have one of the first six pack ring patents back in the late 70's, so it wouldn't be a stretch to say that they're the ones that came up with the tearing version. If you read the patent description for that '93 patent, they reference some of their own patents that include "severable" or "tearable" plastic, but they're talking about latitudinal tearing vs longitudinal tearing (also back in the '70s). Basically I think that Illinois Tool Works looks to be your guys to look at, if you too like to rabbit-hole down patent histories.
posted by librarianamy at 9:03 AM on May 14

I remember the huge push for people to break the rings, before those easy-break features came about. It was a save-a-creature awareness thing... turtles, maybe? The era would have been some time between mid-80s and mid-90s.
posted by stormyteal at 10:25 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]

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