The Secret Functions of Ordinary Objects That Hide In Plain Sight

Emma Smith | Wed Jun 28 2023

So many of the things we use on an everyday basis have secret purposes that few people know about. Don’t blame yourself – you wouldn’t know about the secret hidden function of some of these items because you see them all the time and have become accustomed to the way they look. The key to understanding how they truly function, however, is hiding in plain sight.

Image: Youtube / Smart Fox

From those metal stud buttons on your denim jeans to the plastic disc under a soda bottle cap, take a look at the surprising real reason these design features exist. One thing’s for sure; once you find out why they were truly created that way, you’ll never look at them the same. All we can say is, it’s a shame these don’t come with an explanation when you buy them!

The Long Thin Neck of a Wine Bottle

We drink out of glass bottles all the time. But when it comes to wine bottles, that familiar long neck shape has a very specific purpose. One of the biggest reasons why wine bottles are shaped that way most of the time is because of heat distribution. Since most of the liquid would be in the large base, the temperature of the wine would be minimally impacted if someone was to hold it for a while.

Image: Travel + Leisure

This brings us to the second reason why wine bottles have that long neck shape. A long thin neck is easier to grip with one hand, especially if someone was to, for example, make their way around a dinner table pouring wine for a room full of guests. Essentially, this neck shape makes it more comfortable and convenient for the holder.

The Holes Near the Sneaker Tongue

Take a look at your sneakers that lace up. Do you see some holes near the top, around where the tongue of your shoe is visible? You might have never particularly noticed them before, as your sneakers seem to work just fine as they are. But the truth is, some people struggle to find a shoe that fits them really well. That’s where these holes come in.

Image: Fenice

For those who struggle with blisters, because there’s just too much extra space on the inside of their shoe, these holes are there for them to tie their laces up that bit more. If you should wind your laces through these holes as well, you’ll find that your shoe has a much tighter grip than it did before. Only if you need it, of course.

Those Little Metal Studs on Your Jeans

For most of us, denim jeans are an everyday staple of our wardrobes. Yet for something we wear so often, we don’t really understand why it was designed the way it was. Take a look at your favorite pair of blue jeans and see that around all the pockets, there are these small metal studs or buttons affixed to the fabric.

Image: Mercantile London

As it turns out, these metal studs have a very important purpose which is why almost every jeans maker makes sure to include them. These metal studs are called button rivets, and they are fastened to the strategic points on a pair of pants that tend to show signs of wear and tear the soonest, giving the jeans a longer life. Levi Strauss was the first one to come up with, and all other brands soon followed suit.

The Sides of Juice Boxes That Are Folded Over

Like us, you’ve probably been drinking fruit juice from these juice boxes since you were a child. These single-serving containers give you just enough juice to satisfy your needs without overloading you with sugar. They come with a straw strapped to the side, which you just need to poke through the foil opening at the top.

Image: Blasting News

But what if you’re a child and you don’t have a good grip on the carton? All you need to do is open the box up from the folded flaps on either side and hold on to those wings. It’s meant to be easier for very young children to hold them and, when opened this way, it’s possible to cut a hole on one side of the flaps and pour the drink from the juice box like it’s a cup with a handy spout.

That Extra Piece of Fabric In Your Underwear

Female readers will be all too familiar with that random extra piece of material lining their underwear. Positioned in the crotch of the underwear garment, the extra layer actually has a name of it’s own – it’s called a gusset. This piece of fabric is only stitched on one side, however, creating a little secret pocket.

Image: Rank & Style

And what might a pocket be useful for, you might ask? Well, this secret underwear pocket actually has a useful purpose. It partly has moisture-wicking properties and reinforces the fabric, but it also allows for storing small items such as a tampon or even a lipstick. Basically, it’s you’re hiding place to use as you wish when you’re on the go!

That Hole In the Bottom of Your Padlock

We use padlocks all the time, but rarely take the time to look at the details. If you go to a padlock lying around your house right now, you’ll see that there’s a small hole at the base of the detachable hanging lock. That’s because every single padlock is created with the tiny but significant feature.

Image: Pinterest / gigiclean

The reason why this tiny hole exists is to allow for water to drain out from it should water get inside. If the water should stay there, the padlock would rust, or in cold temperatures, the water could freeze and break the padlock. The hole also allows for the oil to be poured inside the lock so that the internal mechanics can stay lubricated.

Those Small Loops On the Back of a Collared Shirt

We’ve all seen that loop stitched onto the back of a collared shirt. People wear shirts all the time but few know the real reason why this loop even exists in the first place. As it turns out, there’s a whole history to shirts that resulted in their most mysterious feature – the loop at the back. Rarely will you buy a collared shirt, even today, without this little addition.

Image: Mental Floss

Back in the 1960s, clothing brand GANT started adding this “locker loop” so that their largely Ivy League college customers could hang their shirts from their lockers without accumulating a ton of wrinkles. But legend has it that East Coast sailors were the first to start this trend, needing to hang them on hooks from a wireline.

The Grooves and Dents on a Golf Ball

Gold balls are a perfectly round shape when you look at them from a distance. But the closer you look, the harder it is to ignore the dents across the surface. These dents, or dimples, aren’t just there to add some texture to the ball, they’re actually crucial in allowing the golf ball to properly perform its intended function.

Image: The Academy of Golf Dynamics

At some point along the golf balls evolution, it was discovered that the perfectly spherical balls that people were playing with actually traveled further if they had been beaten around the bush a bit. The balls with bumps and dents along their surface performed better than those without, leading to the bumpy golf balls we see today.

That Tiny Arrow on the Side of the Fuel Gauge

You’ve probably noticed that small arrow to the side of your fuel icon from time to time. But it’s never been absolutely necessary to look up exactly what it means, so the chances are you pretty much just ignore it. But finding out what it really means can save you a headache in the future if not for your car, then for any car you may come to rent.

Image: Wikimedia

The gas gauge arrow has been utilized on manufactured cars since the early 1990s, to indicate which side of the car you’ll need to fill up the tank. Instead of driving into the gas station and positioning yourself on the wrong side for a fill-up, just a quick glance at the gas gauge ensures you won’t be left red in the face.

A Simple Key Can Be a Lifesaver at the Supermarket

Getting stuck at the supermarket without a quarter when you need to do your big weekly grocery shop is a pain. You need to use the shopping cart but you don’t have the change to access it, so you are stuck wasting time looking for a solution. You may not have realized, however, that the solution was right under your nose.

Image: Reddit / lifehacks

If you have a standard house key, the chances are that the dimensions of the back of the key will fit perfectly into the shopping cart lock. So if you’re in a pinch, you can unwind the key from the keyring and cart your groceries around in peace. Here’s hoping that you’ll never need to awkwardly carry a bunch of your groceries in your hands ever again.

That Little Hole Next To Your iPhone Lens

If you are an iPhone user it’s time you know what that very small dot next to your camera lens is all about. Smartphones, especially Apple ones, are mystifying enough, but you can be rest assured that this tiny hole at the back of your phone isn’t as mysterious as it seems. It has a simple but essential job to do, it’s just presented in a different way.

Image: ABP News

In reality, that tiny dot next to your camera lens’ is one of your three microphones. It may seem like a strange place to put a phone microphone, but since the other two are positioned elsewhere, they could afford to put one here. The other microphones are situated right at the bottom edge and under the speaker grill, but the one by the camera lens is meant to help with noise cancellation.

The Wings on the MacBook Power Adaptor

MacBook users might have come across those random “wings” attached to their MagSafe adapter. If you are one of those people who never noticed it, closer inspection will show you that the power adaptor has two “wings” that flank either side of the adaptor and can be opened out from the main body.

Image: Mac Fusion

They are easy enough to swing out, but what exactly are they for? It turns out that they are meant to help with wrapping the cable cord around the adapter so that the cords don’t just slip off and turn into a wirey mess when you travel. It’s such an ingenious design detail, it makes us wish that all chargers came with “wings.”

The Real Purpose of Red and Blue Erasers

Everyone will remember these iconic two-sided erasers. They are blue on one side and red on the other, and through the years we heard rumors about how the blue side is meant to be used for erasing pen ink. But a quick try will quickly prove that that’s not really the case. So what on earth are these two colors meant to represent?


It’s not actually a code for what type of material it erasers, rather, it is meant to signify what type of paper each side should be used on. The red side is meant to be softer and used on smoother paper, but the blue side is more abrasive and meant to be used on coarser paper where the ink might be harder to remove.

Those Diamond Shapes Patches on a Backpack

You’ve seen these a million times before, but probably just thought it was a design choice. Many backpacks have a random square patch on the front of the backpack that is slanted so it creates a diamond shape. Some people call it the “pig snout,” because it has two slits in the middle, but this feature isn’t there for aesthetic purposes.

Image: Insider

The “pig snout” is meant to function as a cord holder and is actually called a “lash tab” or a “lashing square.” So, if you’re coming back from a day at the beach and you do not want to put your wet swimsuit back in your bag, you can use the “lash tab” to help hold things on the outside of your bag. We wish we knew this one sooner.

A Doorknob Made of Brass

You might have brass door knobs in your home, but you probably don’t realize why they’re made out of that material. The truth is, brass is favored as a door knob material for more than one reason. One of the main reasons is that brass is very affordable, so you can pick up a doorknob for every room in the house without breaking the bank.

Image: United Locksmith

But another reason why brass is favored above the rest is that brass is antimicrobial. Doorknobs are in constant use and touched by tons of hands, so having a brass doorknob helps ensure that germs are kept to a minimum thanks to the bacteria prevention properties, sometimes going so far as to destroy certain bacteria altogether.

The Proper Way To Eat From a Take-out Box

Getting your favorite take-out food delivered to your door is only half as fun when you can’t mix your dish together properly. Many of us don’t even bother to deal with it while it’s still in the container and opt to pour it out onto a plate instead – which means more washing up. But if you use the take-out boxes the correct way, you won’t ever need to grab for that plate again.

Image: Youtube / Mad Scientist

That’s because take-out containers are designed to be used as plates when you fold them out. You only need to tug on the folded sides and open it out. Now that you know this hack, you won’t need to go digging around for the food buried at the bottom anymore. Just make sure you don’t pull on the cardboard with too much force!

The Wavy Side of a Bobby Pin

The classic bobby pin has a more interesting design than you probably realize. They have been keeping people’s hair in place since shortly after the First World War by San Franciscan Luis Marcus. The design features one side that is straight and another side that has waves or curves. Since the forties, this classic bobby pin design started to add rubber tips on the end when women complained about chipping their teeth on the original.

Image: wikiHow

But those waves on one side of the bobby pin are very important. The zig-zag design is needed to catch a chunk of hair and hold it in place so that the bobby pin doesn’t just fall right off. The ridged side is supposed to latch onto the chunk of hair and secure the bulk, while keeping it as flush to your scalp as possible.

The Plastic Disc Under the Cap of a Soda Bottle

We can easily take a soda bottle’s design for granted. But the drink holder actually specifically designed to keep your fizzy beverage as fresh as possible. And it has everything to do with the bottle cap, or more specifically, the small plastic disc that sits right under the bottle cap. Without that little piece of plastic, our fizzy drinks wouldn’t fizz at all.

Image: Wikimedia

That’s because the plastic disc acts as a seal to keep the fizzy drink carbonated. The airtight barrier stops carbon dioxide gas from escaping out of the bottle. So next time you enjoy a soft drink, you can appreciate that the seemingly insignificant piece of plastic has an important role to play in keeping your beverage bubbly and refreshing.

Those Little Holes In the Window of the Airplane

If you’re a nervous flyer, the sight of that tiny hole in the airplane window has probably risen your blood pressure. But after discovering what its purpose is, the sight of the tiny hole will probably calm your nerves instead. That’s because that tiny hole, and the tiny holes on every window in the cabin, help with a change in air pressure.

Image: Slate

It’s called a breather hole, which makes a lot of sense considering how important it is in stabilizing the air pressure when you’re on a flight. It ensures that when the plane is climbing or descending, the cabin air is easy to breathe. You’ll also have noticed that there are two windows, one in front of the other. The window with a breather hole acts as a backup window should the air pressure be too great for the outer window.

The Bumps on the F and J Keys of a Keyboard

The keyboard for your computers and laptops all have the same subtle design feature – they all have small bumps or ridges on the F key and the J key. You don’t need to wonder anymore what their purposes are; there’s a very good explanation as to why every single manufactured keyboard features them.

Image: Industry Tap

Those ridges are meant to make it easier for you to navigate the keyboard without having to look at the keys. It’s supposed to be a marker or indicator as to where your fingers are on the keyboard, so you can type faster and more efficiently. Certain professionals like professional typing rely heavily on these bumps as they need to type speedily.

The “57” Logo on a Glass Ketchup Bottle

Heinz ketchup is arguably the most classic and iconic ketchup you can buy. But sometimes it can be very challenging to get all the ketchup out of those glass bottles. You either have to sit there for ages with the bottles turned upside down, or resort to scraping out what ketchup you can with a knife. But there is a better solution.

Image: Kwango Kwako

Heinz actually thought about this when designing their bottle, and came up with a clever feature that’s been hiding in plain sight. The little glass impression that has the “57” logo is actually the perfect spot to tap when trying the get the ketchup out. Simply turn the bottle upside down at a 45-degree angle and pat the logo.

That Little Patch of Fabric That Came With Your Clothes

Sometimes when you buy new clothes from the high street, they come with a small bag that contains an extra piece of fabric that matches your new clothing item. Perhaps you always assumed this was for patching up areas that wear quicker than others, but the true purpose of the fabric patch actually has nothing to do with that.

Image: Scoopwhoop

That extra piece of fabric is meant to allow you to test the fabric out in the washing machine so that you don’t ruin your clothes because you had them on too hot of a cycle or because you used chemicals that were too abrasive. You can look at the patch of fabric and see if it has shrunk or has had color bleed out, and then adjust your washing machine accordingly.

The Laptop Cable Cord’s Mysterious Cylinder

Often your laptop charging cord comes with a lumpy cylinder attached to the end of the cable. You can’t remove it or access it in any real way, so the chances are you just accepted it and put it out of your mind. But it actually serves an interesting purpose, even if it doesn’t require anything from you. And it’s all to do with electromagnetic interference.

Image: EarlyGame

This cylinder is there to help prevent interference in an electric path from an outside source. You’re probably familiar with electrical interference from some of your other devices, like when you’re on a phone call or video call and the device picks up sounds from another speaker. Those strange noises are the result of electromagnetic interference.

The Margins on a Piece of Paper

You probably never thought about the margins on a piece of paper. After all, even in our school days we often use those margins for making lists. But these spaces actually have a history and a very practical reason for even being there in the first place. That being said, they’re pretty much obsolete if you consider their initial reason for being.

Image: Reddit / mildlyinteresting

Those margins on a piece of paper were meant to serve as protection from rats nibbling the edges of a page! So by having a margin, you allowed for some rat eating while still keeping all your notes intact. These days, rats eating our paper isn’t really a concern… but it does help protect the information on the page from everyday wear and tear, and so it’s still used today.