There are a few things that stick out brightly in my memory from my early years in elementary school. I remember everyone scrambling for the big cardboard blocks during playtime. I remember wearing my dads old long sleeve button up shirt as a smock when we would paint. I remember this girl Casandra throwing up which caused a chain reaction of other people throwing up. When it came to crafts one thing that I remember well were giant boxes filled with paper towel and toilet paper rolls and another full of empty egg cartons. Egg cartons were the Swiss army knife of craft time. They could be used to create small aliens and bugs or glasses or folded two on each other to become egg like themselves, or they could become mixing palettes for water colors and finger paints.
The egg carton was invented in 1911 by newspaper editor Joseph Coyle of Smithers, British Columbia, to solve a dispute between a local farmer and hotel owner. The egg carton didn't become the norm, however, until it was further developed by H.G.Bennett (Riseley UK) during the 1950s. I thought this was going to be one of those facts that I would need to dig around for, assuming that because of its wide adoption there would have been multiple people claiming to have developed it first.
As universal as the egg carton may be, redesigning it seems one of those tasks that every packaging, graphic, product and industrial designer is hell bent on improving. One attempt at improvement is a container which hugs the eggs in place using a rubber band and after use collapses down flat to recycle. This concept was designed by industrial design student Éva Valicsek from the Institute of Applied Arts. Another is the one-piece egg packaging concept, Friss Biotojás, designed by Otilia Erdelyi which is a smart single piece pack down which allows you to flip open the package easily and in an interesting way. While both of these offer unique and interesting aesthetic suggestions and attempt to cut down on waste, neither appears to be any more secure of an enclosure which is ultimately that which needs the most improvement on.
You see, although the egg carton has surely made a vast improvement on egg safety over the delivery baskets of the 19th century, the system is still quite imperfect. I'm not saying this because I feel I could do any better, although in my packaging and form course in college I did come in first in my drop test for a single egg. How many products do you see people regularly open and inspect before purchasing at the grocery store? While the egg carton may have neared perfection, people are still trying to improve upon this form. This is my favorite thing about the egg carton - from our arts and crafts as small children to the drawing room floor as university students, the egg carton has helped push us creatively and rethink convention.