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August 23, 2004 12:04 AM

Broken: Matchbox label

3-OopsMatthew writes:

This box of matches, like most, has the same design printed on top as on the bottom. The only way to find out which way it up is to open it slowly and hope matches don't go everywhere.

Some boxes of matches have a special flap that mostly prevent the matches from falling out, but still no way of identifying which way is up. This obvious problem is easily alleviated by drawing an arrow on the side of the box.


Ive noticed this a lot of times, but I think most people dont open their box of matches at great speeds...I open mine slowly. Its not like your wasting time. You would be wasting time, thought, if you took out the entire inside box and had to look at it just to see which way you should put it in, or if you forget to put it back upright and the next person drops all the matches. Its sorta broken, but theres no need for it to be fixed.

Posted by: Jon at August 23, 2004 12:41 AM

Erm...oops I forgot to mention that my example was about if there was an arrow or something. Sorry, that was my first post.

Posted by: Jon at August 23, 2004 12:42 AM

This is a case of "they'll build a better idiot". If you put an arrow on the outside box, someone will put the drawer in upside-down. Printing on the drawer would be the best answer, but since it doesn't have any printing on it already, it would cost more.

Two things that I look for:

-The seam on the outside box can be a clue as to the bottom side.

-I usually squish the box a little while I open it a bit (just enough to get the lip of the drawer out), and I can tell which side is the unsuported (open) side.

Posted by: morcheeba at August 23, 2004 01:24 AM

I've used a lot of matches in my life, and have never ever acidentally opened the drawer the wrong way, and I have never heard of anyone stupid or drunk enough to have this happen. I honestly have no idea how I manage to achieve this amazing feat of predicting which side is up, but I imagine it has something to do with subconsciously noting the orientation of the drawer. Hint: a matchbox has six sides, two will provide information about the orientation of the drawer, as they are open and provide a clear view of it. Maybe my superior tactile sense allows me to open the drawer only a fraction of an inch and peak inside without allowing any of the valuable matches falling out.

As long as matchboxes are designed symmetrically, the other 4 side won't ever provide orientation, because even if you write "ATTENTION STUPID PEOPLE: THIS SIDE UP", someone will just put the drawer in the other way.

Posted by: Tim at August 23, 2004 05:47 AM

You can't put the drawer in the wrong way if the arrow is on the drawer side, not the box side

Posted by: Patrick at August 23, 2004 09:04 AM

"I've used a lot of matches in my life, and have never ever acidentally opened the drawer the wrong way..."

"I've noticed this a lot of times, but I think most people dont open their box of matches at great speeds...I open mine slowly. Its not like your wasting time."

Exactly. I think the person who posted this is the one who's broken. I mean what kind of thinking is this? Is it so frustratingthing? So very hard to push the contrainer a little and see if you're holding it right? Sheesh. Post something meaningful like that broken MS Word Translator, something that has a practical meaning.

Posted by: Selcuk at August 23, 2004 11:40 AM

I don't use matches a whole lot, but when I do, I usually drop 1 or 2 accidentally. Maybe I'm just a clutz.

Somebody fix this one please.

Posted by: Nathan Hughes at August 27, 2004 05:11 PM

The solution would be to put an exaggerated open container picture on the side of the "drawer", like: \____/ Mind you, that means printing on something that they currently don't have to print on, thus more expensive.

Posted by: josh at August 30, 2004 03:26 AM

The person who posted this obviously had a problem with it, so those who haven't might consider that they're not in the same situation instead of making fun. Perhaps you're using a different sort of box. With most matchboxes, I've not had a problem, but I have noticed the problem occasionally, usually when the inner drawer is tight enough in the outer box that it can be difficult to get it moving out without shoving it halfway through, thus maybe losing matches.

The point about putting the arrow on the inner drawer instead of the outer box is a good one -- more expensive, but more idiotproof.

Another way to fix it would be to make the whole system less of a rectangular shape, something like the \__/ (with a top) shown by another commenter. This might be more expensive too, if they don't stack as easily.

Posted by: broken at August 31, 2004 10:46 PM

247. Yeah, 247. Definitely.

Posted by: Raymond at September 2, 2004 02:28 PM

ha! I just had an idea! It's possible to print something on the top of the box while keeping people from puttin the drawer in the wrong way: don't make the box square!

if the box looked like this (from the front, where you put the drawer in):



you couldn't put it in the wrong way. of course, this would also make manufacturing the box more expensive, so it's probably also pointless since I've never had a problem with spilling matches either.

Posted by: LKM at September 2, 2004 02:51 PM

aw... somebody had the idea before I did. now I can't patent it! :-)

Posted by: LKM at September 2, 2004 02:52 PM

Easily, and cheaply, fixed by printing different info on the top (open) side of the outer container - brighter graphics on top, boring company info on the bottom. Ship it with the drawer facing the right way, if the consumer pulls it out and sticks it back in upside down it is their own problem.

No, I haven't had this problem, but I have seen it in action.

Posted by: Vox at September 2, 2004 09:30 PM

Finally - an intelligent company. Diamond brand matches use the idea posted above AND "this side up" arrows to avoid this problem. This works great as long as you only open the drawer far enough to take a match (which is what I think just about everybody does). If you flip the drawer over, you deserve to drop your matches.

Posted by: a bum at December 24, 2004 01:30 AM

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