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Trapper Keeper: 5 things you didn't know about this essential '80s icon



Trapper Keeper. Those two words conjure up as many memories as they do sounds. Like the sound of the velcro echoing through a classroom when 30 kids open their Trapper Keepers simultaneously at the start of biology class. Or the whining of 300 kids when their beloved Trapper Keepers began to fall apart before the school year was halfway over, prompting a last-minute trip to K-Mart to grab a new one before school started the next day. has a great history piece on Trapper Keepers, which I believe are still for sale today. (Tried to talk a certain 12-year-old into buying one for school this year, only to be told she had no need for this '80s relic. My heart was broken.)

Here's just a taste of what you can discover on


1. Trapper Keepers truly were an '80s generation phenomenon. They were launched in 1978 by Mead Corp., though they've been owned by office supply giant ACCO Brands since 2012. Mead still has a webpage devote to Trapper Keepers.

2. They were an instant success. Mead's annual sales of Trapper Keepers exceeded $100 million. To date, more than 75 million have been sold. Vintage models still sell for $50 or more on eBay. Or you can buy a new one for about $14. (The original price was $4.85.)

3. Development of the Trapper Keeper began in the early '70s, when research at Harvard University pointed out that classrooms were growing stuffed with students, while lockers were shrinking in size. The Trapper Keeper evolved from PeeChees, folders with vertical pockets that were common on the West Coast but rare elsewhere in the U.S.

4. The name is actually a two-parter. The Trapper is the paper portfolio with angled pockets. The Keeper is the notebook that holds the Trapper. Hence, Trapper Keeper.

5. Originally, Trapper Keepers had a metal snap to hold it together. Velcro was added a few years later after people complained of trying to center the snaps on the notebook.

[Last modified: Friday, September 20, 2013 9:40am]


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