Canadians have a claim to fame when it comes to inventions that have made modern life better or easier. And one of those inventions is credited to BC’s Joseph Coyle, from Smithers, and his invention of the egg carton.
Yes, you read that right. The egg carton. The packaging that surrounds your eggs and keeps them safe when you pick them up at the grocery store and bring them home.
As the story goes, Coyle, a journalist and publisher for the Interior News in the Bulkley Valley, overheard an argument between a hotel owner and a local farmer in 1911. The hotel owner was frustrated because the eggs he ordered from the farmer often arrived broken, since the farmer piled them all into one basket for delivery.
Coyle was a resourceful and creative man, and according to the Bulkley Valley Museum he took it upon himself to come up with a solution.
Coyle designed a carton with individual slots for the eggs to sit in, made of newspaper. At first, he produced the cartons by hand, but later he invented a machine to make the cartons, when demand for his invention ramped up. Coyle patented his idea in 1918. In 1919, he sold his newspaper and moved to Vancouver, putting all of his effort into his new business. He moved on to cities such as Toronto, Chicago and Los Angeles, setting up factories as he went.
Coyle moved back to Vancouver in the 1930s, and passed away in 1972 at the age of 100. As is often the case for inventors, Coyle’s egg carton creation made him some money, but it made millionaires out of several other people.
But, lucky for us, Coyle’s gift for figuring out a solution to a problem means we can bring our eggs home from the store with relative peace of mind, and he was able to solve a centuries-old problem.