The real reason the lid of your biro has a hole in it

It's not to save money on plastic

Ever wondered why the lid of your biro has a hole in it?

It’s probably not a question keeping you up at night. It’s not up there with who shot JFK or how they moved those massive rocks to make Stone Henge before the wheel was invented, or what the hell that little oblong pocket in your jeans is for. Actually, hang on, we’ve got the answer to that last one here.

You’ve probably assumed – while absently chewing the end of it in a long work meeting – that the little hole in the lid is just an ‘every little helps’ plastic-saving measure.

Actually, there are two reasons why the hole is there.

According to Business Insider – who have made a very satisfying video of pens on a factory production line, if you like that sort of thing – BIC has been punching holes in the caps of its pens since 1991. The first reason is that the hole helps balance the pressure of air around the pen tip so the ink flows better when you put it to paper.

But the other reason is a life-saving one. According to the video, between 2000 and 2011 there were 10 000 incidents of people – mostly children between the ages of 6 and 15 – choking on pen lids. The hole in the top of the lid is intended to help the person who has accidentally swallowed it breathe for a short period of time while it is removed, however it should be taken into consideration that this only works temporarily and soon becomes blocked with bodily fluids.

Since BIC added a hole to the end of their pen lids, other companies have followed suit.

So there you go. Despite being occasionally very sexist, BIC has also probably made the humble pen a little bit safer.

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