History of the Cardboard Box

The cardboard or paper box is a much overlooked item. We see and use them everyday – from our cereal in the morning, to the packaging of our favourite gadget comes in, and the toothpaste we brush our teeth with. Most items nowadays come in some sort of packaging using either paper or cardboard. This is used by everyone yet pretty much taken for granted. It comes in all shapes and sizes and is made from various different materials. It is pretty hard to imagine a world where we don’t have these wonderfully versatile products.

A Bit of History
Paperboard boxes were first commercially produced in England in 1817 although it is agreed that the Chinese invented cardboard some 200 years previously. Robert Gair from Scotland, who worked in Brooklyn, New York, in the 1970’s, is recognised as the inventor of the pre-cut cardboard box which he mass-produced. He came across the process for making the prefabricated boxes purely by accident whilst he was printing an order of seed bags. He noticed that, if you cut and crease the cardboard in one operation, then you can form prefabricated paperboard boxes.

Kellogg’s, which makes breakfast cereal, is one of the first large companies that started using commercially made cardboard boxes, although the design is slightly different to what we know today. The Kellogg brothers had a factory in Battle Creek, Michigan, USA. At the time, they marketed their food as a health product, in much the same way that they are marketed today. A sealed bag of Waxtite, which was printed with the company details and heat sealed, was wrapped around a cardboard box with the cereal inside. This is the complete opposite of today’s practice where we seal the contents in a plastic bag and put them in a printed carton. Paper and paperboard packaging was used until the 20th century. Then, during the 70’s and 80’s, plastic was used increasingly to slowly reduce demand, although it is still in use to this day.

Different Styles of Materials
There are some broad definitions of the different paper or cardboard products available. The first one is simple paper used for the writing and printing of labels. This is made by getting moist fibers of cellulose pulp materials, usually made from wood, and pressing these together and drying them out. The second definition is Paperboard, also known as Cardboard. This material is thicker than paper, which helps make it rigid. It is internationally accepted by the ISO that paperboard is a paper with a weight of above 224g/m², although there are exceptions to this rule such as food packaging. The third definition is Corrugated Fiberboard but is also known as Corrugated Cardboard or simply Corrugated Board and was patented in England in 1856. This is made from paper-based material and is a fluted piece of paper sandwiched between two sheets.

The Versatile Box
The box really does have an astounding number of uses, many of which go pretty much unnoticed in the fast pace of modern life. The box is used to package goods such as cereals and soups for the end consumer. These kinds of products also arrive at the shops in many boxes before being broken up and put on shelves. We use boxes to package juice, drinks, and milk. These kinds of boxes have a special plastic layer inside to make them waterproof and stop the packaging from leaking. We use boxes for our latest consumer products that we all love such as our new laptop, smart phone, or TV. We even reuse packaging for storing things under our stairs at home. And, if you ever decide to move to a new home, keeping all those boxes will be of a great assistance to help pack all of your things up with.

This article was written by Nicholas Holmes on behalf of Removal Boxes; dealer of high quality removal and packing boxes in the UK. They offer top notch removal boxes, including cardboard boxes, storage boxes, packing materials, and moving boxes.

2 thoughts on “History of the Cardboard Box”

  1. Hi,
    Thank you for information & i would also like to suggest that Western Container is in the industry of Cardboard carton manufacturers from more than 50 years.

    Since 1961, Western Container has been building a reputation as a quality manufacturer of custom folding cartons and paperboard specialty products.

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