Why I designed a Reusable Cracker...

by Bea Thackeray 

1 - Where did the idea come from?

'Less waste', 'plastic free', 'reusable' are words we all hear on a daily basis. And with an increasing amount of eco alternatives appearing on the market today, they are now common search terms too.

But let's cast our minds back a few years. It would not have occurred to many people to search for a 'reusable cracker' ten or even fifteen years ago! So how and why did I come up with the idea?

My first cracker mock-ups made using handmade paper.

It all started back in 2005. I had became a partner in an independent graphic design business. We liked to give our clients Christmas gifts and one year we choose handmade paper crackers. Made by a Fair Trade producer in Nepal, my early designs were similar in shape to standard disposable crackers.

The handmade paper gave them a luxurious feel, and it was a shame to tear them and throw them away. In fact, here was the rub... The paper was so strong, it wouldn't tear!

So, the challenge was to make a cracker that would come apart without tearing. With a flash of inspiration I made a mock-up where one part fitted into another. 'Very clever', I thought, but soon found that I wasn't alone. There were handmade products on the market at the time that worked in a similar way. I started researching what other ideas people had come up with when I learnt about Mr Samuel Richard Fitch. He had applied for a Patent for a two part cracker and what will probably surprise you, as it did me, was the date of the application - 5th October 1899! 

2 - What happened next?

So I progressed with the idea and my early crackers looked rather like a two part version of a standard cracker. The snap was glued in at both ends. 
I decided to shorten the lid part and cut it at a angle to make it easier to fit the two parts together.


My early cracker designs made using handmade paper.

Our clients were delighted. As 'one-use' crackers they worked perfectly well, but I preferred a product that they would want to keep. It was disappointing that the ends got easily crushed when pulled and to expect people to glue in a new snap was too much to ask. I needed to find a way that was less fiddly and didn't involve using glue.

3 – The Reusable Cracker was born

It was a classic example of 'form follows function' as the box shaped cracker began to take shape.

After much musing and paper folding, I came up with the idea of how to add a snap without glue. It's possible to hold the snap in place if it is threaded through slots at each end of the cracker. This is where the box shape comes in. The cracker would need to be cuboid in form in order for this to work. Great! I felt that I was making real progress at last. My new Reusable Gift Box Crackers no longer resembled standard crackers and they could be easily reused. Another advantage was that they could come flat-packed, ready to be popped into shape and filled.

My first design for the Reusable square-shaped Gift Box Cracker.

In 2012 we were preparing for a family member's 16th Birthday party and I thought it would be a lovely idea to make some crackers to mark the occasion. These cracker boxes were hand cut and folded using a recyclable material called 'Polyart', made from high density polyethylene. It could be printed on just like paper but was waterproof and tear-proof.

4 – The journey continues

So this is how the journey began and I've been developing and refining the concept ever since. The Reusable Cracker was launched in 2013, made in the UK using FSC certified folding box board, instead of plastic.


Wedding Favour Crackers and the 'Hellebore' design (chosen as a finalist in The Giftware Association 'Gift of the Year' award)

In 2015 Wedding Favour Crackers were added to the range and proved very popular as guests could take them away as mementos of their special day.

Meeting customers at retail events gives me an opportunity to listen to valuable feedback. I learnt that it would be a good idea to offer the reusable crackers with fillers, so we selected eco friendly gifts made in UK by independent makers as well as fair trade producers.

I am currently on the look out for interesting gift ideas. What would you put in your Reusable Crackers? To share your ideas, see the social media links or search @keepthiscracker

Post by Bea Thackeray (August 2020)

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