Thursday, August 29, 2013

The return of the Trapper Keeper

Having school-age children will make you nostalgic for all kinds of things that you didn't think twice about back when you had them the first time around. For example, I've had borderline-Rosebud yearnings for my fire-engine-red Mead Trapper Keeper, the binder-cum-briefcase thingie that all ’80s kids carried with pride in junior high (Lindsay and I had a protracted discussion about this last night—by high school, the Trapper Keeper had lost its luster and was replaced by multiple single-subject college-ruled spiral notebooks, one for each class). 

Anyway, I can't tell you how many times I've thought "I loved my Trapper Keeper therefore my children shall have Trapper Keepers and love them as well" (really, I can't tell you how many times—it's too embarrassing). I always assumed I'd find one at an estate sale or thrift store, but it's never happened. Which is both frustrating and not: I mean, this is just the kind of grail I enjoy questing for, so I purposely avoided searching for one on ebay or etsy—I only do that when Iabsolutelyhavetohavesomethingthisinstant. Otherwise, I prefer the leisurely thrill of the hunt.

Well, the hunt is over. Kind of. Yesterday, I found myself at Super Target, futilely searching for some last-minute supplies in the desolate echo chamber that is the back-to-school section of any big-box store three days into the new school year. Only the least popular items remained; the aisles resembled an Island for Misfit School Supplies: Bieber notebooks, grimy white binders, folders with the wrong kinds of brads, #2 pencils that aren't Ticonderogas and...Mead Trapper Keepers?!?

Hello. Apparently I've been asleep at the wheel for a good six years because according to my friend Wikipedia, Mead reissued the Trapper Keeper back in 2007. In my defense, my kids were one and four years old at the time so organizing homework in a snappy retro binder wasn't a big priority—I guess that's why I missed all the fanfare when it made its triumphant comeback: "Trapper Keeper, the iconic school supply that defined organization is back and better than ever" trumpets the Mead website. 

Feh! The new Trapper Keeper totally sucks. Or, okay, it's not how I remembered it. For one thing, the snap closure doesn't work. For two, it's encased in clear plastic that gets all scuffy and gnarly—hence the abundance left on the shelves at Super Target, destined for the clearance section. And I won't even buy one when it's 75% off! They are an abomination. So naturally, I was driven to google the vintage variety, and naturally ebay and etsy is crawling with them. Average price? Around $75. Curse you, vintage resellers!

P.S. If you are wondering what the photo above has to do with anything, it comes from a Sunset Book I'm selling at the etsy shoppeChildren's Rooms and Play Yards, which was published in 1980 (the Age of Trapper Keepers). The photo appears in a section devoted to "enriching" a child's room and the caption is quite funny: "Classic technology clusters around an intriguing—if still costly—newcomer: a home computer....The computer broadcasts math exercises via the family TV (it can also straighten out a parent's tax confusions)."

P.P.S. Yes, that's Lori Loughlin starring in the Trapper Keeper commercial posted below. You may know her as somebody from some show called Full House, but I will always remember her as Jodi from the great noir-y soap opera, The Edge of Night.

A Trapper Keeper I didn't buy at Target.

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