A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

The Hidden Meanings of 12 Everyday Objects

Updated: Jul. 28, 2021

The little pocket on your jeans. The little hole in your pen cap. They're not just there for show.

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Ali Blumenthal for Reader's Digest

The color of the tag on your store-bought bread …

… tells grocers what day of the week the bread was shipped. Bread is usually delivered fresh to stores five days a week—Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday—and each day has its own colored tag or twist tie. Though some companies use their own system, this common code is easy to remember: Just as the days of the week proceed in order from Monday to Saturday, their corresponding colors proceed in alphabetical order—blue, green, red, white, yellow.

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That tiny pocket on your blue jeans …

… is for your pocket watch. Well, maybe not yours, but the cowboys who made blue jeans famous in the 1800s were plumb grateful for it. Typically, watches were carried on chains and worn in waistcoats, but hard field labor made that a lot less practical. Outdoors, the “watch pocket” on any pair of jeans did just the trick—even after watches moved to the wrist. “This extra pouch has served many functions, evident in its many titles,” the Levi Strauss website reminds us: “frontier pocket, coin pocket, match pocket, and ticket pocket, to name a few.”

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Ali Blumenthal for Reader's Digest

The arrow next to the gas symbol on your dashboard …

… is a perpetual reminder of which side your gas cap is on. If the arrow points right, your gas tank is on the right side of your car, and vice versa. Nearly every car sold in the United States now comes equipped with this handy guide so you’ll never be stumped at the pump again. Don’t miss these secret code words you’re not meant to know.

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iStock/Ruben Pinto

The hole in your pen cap …

… is there to prevent choking. BIC first added the tiny punctures in the top of their pen caps in 1991 both to equalize pressure inside the pen, and to give cap swallowers a last-ditch lifeline; if a cap gets lodged in someone’s throat, they will still be able to breath through the hole. This may sound like an irrational fear, but according to Business Insider, more than 10,000 people have swallowed parts of pens and pencils. Lego mini-figures have holes in their heads for the same reason.

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Ali Blumenthal for Reader's Digest

That little strawberry attached to your pincushion …

… is an emery board for your needles. Filled with tough emery sand—a combination of aluminum and iron oxides—the strawberry is historically a tool for polishing, sharpening, and removing rust from your pins and needles.

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Ali Blumenthal/rd.com

The perforations on the sides of your aluminum wrap container …

… are called end locks and, when pushed in, are meant to keep your roll secure inside the box. Many similar kitchen products, such as plastic wrap, come equipped with the same feature so you’ll never rip the whole roll out of the box when you want just a single piece. Here are 15 more random trivia facts you’ll wish you knew sooner.

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iStock/Kenneth Schutze

The tiny hole outside an elevator …

… is not a secret spyglass (sorry, kids)—it is a keyhole so authorized personnel can open the doors for maintenance, whether the elevator is behind them or not.

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image of window on airplane with white color blank space.
BLUR LIFE 1975/Shutterstock

The tiny hole on airplane windows …

… helps stabilize the air pressure when you’re flying high above the clouds. If you look carefully, airplane windows have three layers. The outside window feels the effects from the drop in air pressure, the middle layer with the hole balances it, and the inside window layer (the one closet to you) protects the middle window, ultimately protecting you as you jet set. Here are more hidden features on airplanes that you never noticed before.

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Tissue box mock up white tissue box blank label and no text for packaging
sommai damrongpanich/Shutterstock

Kleenex tissues were invented for …

… for gas masks. During World War I, there was a cotton shortage and the thin tissue was created to place inside gas mask as a filter. 

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Bangkok, Thailand - January 1, 2017: Golden iPhone 7 on white background. The iPhone 7 is smart phone with multi touch screen produced by Apple Computer, Inc.

The dot on the back of your iPhone next to the camera …

… is actually the microphone for your back camera. When you’re on a phone call with someone and your voice sounds muffled, you should check to make sure that rear microphone isn’t covered or dirty. Check out more interesting facts about pretty much everything

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Front view of the wine bottle and wine glass

The indent on the bottom of wine bottles …

… is called a punt. The punt makes the wine bottles stronger when the pressure is put in by the cork. That way, your after-hours drink doesn’t explode all over the place. It’s also a handy way for servers to hold onto the bottle while they pour the liquid courage into your glass. 

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Computer keyboard isolated on white background
Hemin Xylan/Shutterstock

The ridges on the F and J letters of the keyboard …

… help people remember where to align their index fingers while typing on “QWERTY” keyboards. Knowing where to place your index fingers will give you a natural place for your other fingers and help you type faster. And the ridges make it easier for you to feel your way around the keyboard without constantly looking down. Next, learn the truth about these fun facts you’ve always believed that are actually false.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest