Everyone Uses These Ordinary Items, But Few People Know About Their Special Secret Features

There are some everyday items that initially appear so mundane it’s hard to imagine them having any other use. Yet when it comes to the world of product design, every nook and cranny usually has a purpose. From jean buttons to juice cartons, here’s a look at 40 common objects that boast features you probably never knew about.

40. Soda can tabs

It might be considered very much a first world problem. But it’s still annoying when the straw you place in your soda can starts moving around every time you put your lips to it. To avoid any embarrassment in the future, simply position the straw in the much tighter hole of the can’s ring tab. Done!

39. Lollipop stick holes

This particular feature only becomes apparent once you’ve eaten every last bit of candy on offer. Yes, the good old lollipop stick has a tiny hole at the top, although it’s solely for manufacturing purposes. While being poured into the mold, the sugary sweet goodness drips down into the hole, which after hardening ensures that the lollipop stays exactly where it should.

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38. Bread tags

Those plastic tags that ensure your bread stays fresh for as long as possible come in a wide range of colors. But this isn’t purely for aesthetic purposes. Each color represents the particular day that the loaf was baked on. For example, any bread that goes into the oven on a Monday will be wrapped up with a tag in blue.

37. Padlock holes

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Since padlocks are very much an outdoor kind of item, they inevitably need some kind of ability to drain moisture. This is where the tiny hole that usually sits alongside the main keyhole comes into play. Not only does it allow water and dirt to pass through, it’s also a useful tool in the process of lubrication.

36. The tiny jeans pocket

It’s unlikely that many of us are using this design feature for its original purpose, if at all. You see, the tiny pocket that appears within another pocket in most pairs of jeans was initially intended to store a pocket watch. Nowadays it’s far more useful for holding cash or a small phone.

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35. Pen cap holes

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This particular hidden function could potentially be an unlikely lifesaver. Indeed, those holes that you find at the top of a pen cap aren’t designed for whistling. No, they are there to aid breathing for anyone who has choked on the tiny item – apparently a common occurrence – until further assistance arrives on the scene.

34. Applesauce lids

Of course, some hidden features are more a case of improvisation than intention. Take applesauce lids, for example. While designed to keep the gooey substance fresh, the foil covering can also be used as a makeshift spoon if you find yourself without a real one.

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33. Gas gauge

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This particular function seems entirely obvious once you’re made aware of it. If you’ve ever got to a gas station and forgotten which side of your vehicle the tank is placed, then help is at hand. Simply look at the triangle or arrow symbol that sits near your dashboard’s gas gauge icon. Whichever way it’s pointing is where you should head for.

32. Coin ridges

The ridge you find on some coin edges might not serve a particularly useful purpose in the modern age. But they were once a vital tool in the prevention of financial skulduggery. Years ago, when the value of coins was measured by their weight, unscrupulous individuals would shave off their coins’ edges to mint new ones. The addition of ridges ensured that it would become blatantly obvious when someone tried to use the coin that they’d shaved.

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31. The fabric swatch

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You no doubt think you already know what the fabric swatch that comes with most new clothing items is for: to patch up any wear and tear. However, its main purpose is to ensure that the entire piece of clothing doesn’t get damaged. Yes, it’s thrown in with purchases to help the consumer test which cleaning product is best suited for the item in question.

30. Pot handle holes

Knowing where to put your wooden spoon in between stirring can sometimes be annoying. And while a plate is a completely plausible solution, there’s actually one located closer to the saucepan than you might realise. Yes, the hole in the handle of the pan allows you to slot in the spoon quite easily.

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29. Shoe eyelets

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This secret footwear feature is particularly useful for those who enjoy hiking. The additional eyelets you find – high up on each shoe – can provide extra stability if your laces are looped through them. Furthermore, these can help to reduce impact loading and keep your foot more firmly in place.

28. Elevator door holes

Let’s hope you never have to experience the benefit of this design feature, particularly if you’re claustrophobic. You’ve probably never noticed the tiny hole that appears at the top of an elevator door. But it serves a vital function if an elevator breaks down. It allows repairmen to manually fix the problem, using the keyhole, and send you back on your way.

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27. Wooden coat hangers

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Wooden coat hangers are undoubtedly more aesthetically pleasing than those made out of wire or plastic. But they are more functional, too. The material typically used, cedarwood, is renowned for deterring creepy crawlies. Therefore, the clothing items placed on such hangers are far less likely to be damaged by everyday insects.

26. Soft drink lids

If you’ve bought a cup of soda along with your fast food then you might be worried about leaving residue on whichever surface you place it on. However, if you don’t have a coaster to hand, there’s another easy solution. Simply remove the lid and use the underside whose grooves are perfectly designed to fit the rest of the cup into.

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25. Long neck bottles

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For many, there’s nothing better than finishing the day with a bottle of ice-cold beer. But have you ever wondered why it’s shaped like it is? Well, the long neck is actually a cost-saving measure, as packers can seal the top with a much smaller cap this way. It’s also a much sturdier way of sealing compared to a larger bottle top.

24. Tic Tac lids

Want to offer someone a Tic Tac but worried that they might end up scoffing almost the entire box? Well, the lid’s tiny ringlet is your friend. As well as ensuring that the breath-friendly products stay fresh, it also acts as a dispenser for just a solitary Tic Tac.

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43. The F and J keyboard grooves

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Chances are you’ve never noticed those tiny grooves on your computer keyboard’s F and J keys. But if you’re a typist who’s been classically trained then they can be vital. For they are what’s known as the ‘home keys,’ aka the place to rest your index fingers if you don’t ever glance at the keyboard.

22. Airplane window holes

If you’ve ever spotted a tiny hole while gazing out of an airplane window, fear not. It’s supposed to be there. Firstly, it ensures that all the passengers’ warm breath doesn’t mist up the acrylic panel. Secondly, it stops the window from shattering whenever the altitude rises by enabling the air to flow freely.

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21. Pasta spoon holes

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Determining how much pasta to pop into a pan is always the hardest thing about preparing Italy’s national dish. But if you have a fancy pasta spoon in your kitchen drawer, then this should no longer be a problem. The hole that sits at the end isn’t just for draining water but also for measuring the ideal amount of pasta per person.

20. Measuring tape holes

Carrying out a DIY project all on your own? Well, you don’t have to fret about not being able to measure from one end to another. Simply place the tiny slot that appears on your measuring tape’s metal stub on to a nail and you’re free to go. Even better, the serrated part of this stub can also serve as a makeshift pencil.

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19. Escalator brushes

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You may believe those brushes placed at escalator sides offer a cheap way of cleaning your shoes. In fact, they’re intended to keep you as far away from the edge of the escalator as possible. Their bristles, made out of nylon, are a psychological tool aimed to reduce the number of accidents that occur due to trapped bags and clothing items.

18. Jean buttons

Those buttons placed on most jean pockets may look pretty stylish. But you probably don’t realize that they actually serve a purpose, too. Yes, the buttons – actually called rivets – are positioned specifically where the material is most likely to suffer wear and tear. Therefore they strengthen your Levi’s or other denim wear of choice at vulnerable points.

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17. Laptop charger wings

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It can be all too easy to get the wire of your laptop all tangled up whenever you’re carrying it around in a bag. But manufacturers have already offered a solution to the problem that you may not have thought of. Simply wind the wire up to the laptop charger’s wings and you may never have to spend valuable minutes untangling ever again.

16. Juice carton flaps

Small children often want to be independent as possible, particularly when it comes to meal or snack times. But how do you prevent them from spilling juice all over themselves or household furniture every time they pick up a squeezy carton? Well, if you can teach them to hold it by the flaps at the side then unnecessary spillage should become a thing of the past.

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15. Half-belts

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The half-belt is now considered a vital style accessory to many jackets and coats. But it was first used by the military to allow its soldiers to walk more freely. You see, army jackets were typically much bulkier than everyday ones so that they could double up as blankets. And the half-belt was a resourceful way of ensuring that soldiers didn’t have to resemble the Michelin Man once they returned to marching.

14. The multi-purpose screwdriver

Turns out that you don’t always need a full toolbox to carry out your car or home maintenance. If you find yourself without a necessary wrench, then simply turn to the humble screwdriver. This surprisingly multi-purpose tool can double up to create extra torque and is particularly useful when dealing with difficult angles and heights.

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13. Red squares on toothpaste tubes

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According to many online, the colored squares that appear on the end of a toothpaste tube signify which ingredients have been used. However, the truth is slightly more practical. These marks are used in the manufacturing process to indicate where each tube should be pinched and cut off.

12. Hat pom-poms

Sure, those fluffy pom-poms you find on most winter hats look cute. But back in the day they also helped French sailors from getting headaches. Yes, the humble pom-pom was all such journeymen had to protect their skulls from bashing against the ship’s ceiling when the weather turned nasty.

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11. Notebook margins

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Who knew that the art of notebook writing was influenced by rats. Yes, back when rodents were more common, paper was one of their favorite things to feast upon. To reduce the risk of any classic literature getting eaten, notebook manufacturers came up with the brainwave of margins. The idea was that rats would hopefully only nibble at the sides of pages, leaving the writing alone.

10. Golf ball dimples

The likes of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are no doubt aware of this design feature. But chances are those who enjoy a leisurely round of golf don’t know why every golf ball is equipped with countless dimples. Well, they actually help the ball travel much further by impacting the aerodynamics of the object.

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9. Removable headrests

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One of the most satisfying things about being a backseat passenger as a child was the chance to pull the front two headrests out of their place. Of course, there’s a good reason why manufacturers make it so easy to do such a thing. The metal end of headrests can be used to smash a window in the case of an emergency.

8. Chinese takeaway boxes

Out of all the everyday household chores, washing up after a meal can be one of the most tedious. However, if you decide to order a Chinese take-out you can save yourself from the boredom of standing over the sink. Simply unfold those neat little boxes the food is stored in and voila, you have a disposable plate.

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7. The tiny phone hole

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We all know that the larger hole at the top of a smartphone is to capture photos and videos. But what about the even tinier hole next to it that you might not have even noticed? Well, it’s an extra microphone which ensures that your conversations are as crystal clear as possible.

6. Backpack square patches

Pig snouts? Lashing squares? You might not have any idea what we’re referring to but these are slang terms for the square patches you’ll find on your backpack. And they’re used to help carry additional items by threading materials like lace or rope through. This is a particularly useful feature when it comes to camping and hiking.

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5. Solo cup lines

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You might not be paying much attention once you’ve got a little tipsy. But those lines on plastic cups are designed to indicate how much alcohol you should pour in. The first is for one liquor shot, the second for a glassful of wine, and the third for a good old beer.

4. The blue part of the eraser

If you’re a dedicated artist, chances are that you already know what the blue part of the eraser is for. Indeed, those with a keen interest in drawing have no doubt used it to eliminate any marks that were heavier or thicker than average. In fact, the blue half is designed to remove blemishes on paper that is stronger than the usual loose leaf.

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3. Fuel cap holders

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These days the vast majority of fuel caps are attached to the vehicle. However, it’s still not particularly safe to leave it dangling while you fill up with gas. Thankfully, most fuel doors also boast a cap holder which means you can pump without anything getting in your way.

2. The oven drawer

The drawer that sits just under the oven is probably used by most of us as a place to store all those kitchen items that don’t really fit elsewhere. Yet it has an entirely different purpose. It’s actually intended to maintain the heat of food fresh out the oven until it’s ready to be served.

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1. Mug grooves

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You can always rely on the Swedes to think outside the box when it comes to everyday items. Yes, the home of IKEA is also responsible for creating those grooves that are cut into the bottom of many mugs. They were designed to stop upturned cups from gathering dirty water when in the dishwasher.

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