Canadian Packaging

Penny For Your Thought


November 18, 2009
by Andrew Joseph, Features Editor

Attention people! Canadian Packaging has a new Integrators section for the 2010 Packaging Machinery Specifications Manual coming out in January 2010 – so please call Norine Mark for a form @ 416-764-1455. Make sure YOU are included.

Now back to the regular scheduled Editorial… Here’s an interesting packaging story from the past. It is an American story, but since I own one of the principals of this story, it’s has a Canadian attachment.

Did you know that in 1955, the U.S. Mint accidentally double-struck some of the Lincoln pennies it was manufacturing? Between 20- to 24,000 coppers show a distinct doubling on the date, the word “LIBERTY” and in the Latin motto “IN GOD WE TRUST”. It’s also a valuable coin – currently worth around $1,800 in XF (extra fine) condition.

While the Mint did discover the mis-struck coins prior to shipping, it decided that searching for so few coins to melt amongst the millions produced just wasn’t cost-effective—so out the door they went.

As luck would have it, cigarette companies ended up with the vast majority of the pennies. Back in 1955 when cigarettes were sold in vending machines, the price was $0.23 per pack. Since the machines did not offer change back on the quarter, cigarette companies took to inserting two cents as change into every cellophane-wrapped package of smokes. Purchasing them at a tobacconist would also cost one a quarter.

While the cigarettes were inserted by machine, the pennies were placed into the pack by hand before a machine wrapped it all up.

Although I wasn’t around in 1955, and not living in the U.S., it’s a minor miracle that an eight-year-old Canadian boy who had just started collecting coins would find one in his pocket change 18 years after it was issued. But I have one.

Since then, manufacturing practices in the U.S. and Canada have progressed tremendously. Along with higher levels of quality assurance, we’ve also realized that doing things by hand may indeed be an inexpensive means to producing a product, but it’s a lousy way to grow a business—especially when having a faster, and more efficient production line can help garner more business.

Take a look at our October 2009 issue of Canadian Packaging magazine or click HERE to read about Maywah Foods, a small snack food manufacturer and packager who garnered immediate gains after modernizing the production equipment.

Despite the on-going pains from this recession, manufacturers would be wise not to shut down their advertising budgets (hint, hint) or to not consider keeping up with the latest equipment. With banks begging for business—though those of you in the U.S. are probably aware of the 100th bank collapse in 2009 alone—now is the time to forge ahead and meet the future.

While it is imperative we all count our pennies to ensure survival, don’t forget to cash them in to not only keep up with the competition, but surpass them as well.

Somewhere, change is good.
Andrew Joseph

PS – be sure to check out our web-site’s Community section, sub-section Research for a couple of informative white papers. Feel like contributing? Let’s talk.