They’re selling Trapper Keepers again.
No, really. They are.
Now, perhaps Mead has been selling Trapper Keepers, or some version thereof, for all the many years since I was in the sixth grade. Probably they have. But this is the first year in many years that I have had legitimate cause to cruise the back-to-school aisles at Target and the like. My older son’s starting kindergarten in about three weeks, and I have a whole list–a very, very specific list, I might add–of supplies that I am supposed to buy for him. So I’ve started legitimately (and gleefully, I probably don’t need to add) shopping for school supplies. And this morning I discovered them. There, just a few yards away from the gluesticks, were the Trapper Keepers.
For those of you who somehow missed the phenomenon thirtycoughodd years ago, Trapper Keepers were three-ring loose-leaf binders. They were big and bulky and heavy and took up too much room in your little metal-and-wood student desk. And you had to have one.
And apparently, they’re still selling. Now, these are definitely not the Trapper Keepers of my generation. Think back to the Trapper Keepers that you knew and loved. Many featured stylized Miami Vice-esque graphics and photos that were often also spotted on airbrushed t-shirts. My favorite Trapper Keeper was blue, with a photo of a large colorful hot air balloon on the front. Inside, I kept a zippered pencil bag full of the standard No. 2 pencils that I was required to have and the glittery mechanical pencils that I preferred. I also kept a healthy supply of wide-ruled paper, per the school’s requirements. The front of the Trapper Keeper closed with a big circle of velcro. When I opened the Trapper Keeper, which I tried to do as often as possible, it made an unavoidable rrrrippppppping sound. It was nearly impossible to open quietly, which was fine, because you wanted people to look up and see you with your cool Trapper Keeper.
God, I loved that thing.
By contrast, the Trapper Keeper in the rack at Target today wasn’t anything like the hot air balloon binder that I dutifully stuffed into my desk in Mrs. Sidwell’s classroom each day. It was like comparing a 2011 car to a 1985 car. The new model is sleek and shiny and undeniably more attractive, objectively speaking, and probably a lot lighter and more aerodynamic. (What, you never threw your notebook at anyone? Did you not have boys in your class?) But it wasn’t the same. The new model featured a cover made of some hybrid of vinyl and canvas, smooth and monochromatic, with some odd sleek chrome magnetic closure. There was no photo. No velcro to announce its use. It did, at least, still feature the stylized Trapper Keeper logo–in the same familiar font, even. But it just seemed sort of…soulless.
I shook my head and stuck the binder back on the display with the others. My five-year-old is too young for a big loose-leaf binder anyway, and even if he did need one, I’m not quite sure I could bring myself to buy him something so quiet and tasteful. In fact, I was a little relieved when he insisted on choosing a bright Justice League backpack. It was like he was keeping the dream alive.