Cardboard boxes have a relatively short history, dating back to the mid-19th century when paperboard was first invented. However, their impact on modern society and commerce is immeasurable.
In 1817, a paper mill in England began producing paperboard, which is a thicker and more durable type of paper. It wasn’t until the 1850s that cardboard boxes as we know them today began to be used for packaging and shipping goods.
The first recorded use of a cardboard box for shipping was in 1871 when the Albert Jones Company of New York City used them to ship glassware and other fragile items. The boxes were made from a single layer of paperboard and were held together with string.
In 1890, Robert Gair, a Scottish-born inventor living in New York City, created a machine that could cut, crease, and score cardboard in one operation. This made it possible to produce boxes quickly and cheaply, and the machine was soon adopted by other manufacturers.
The newly patented folded carton laid the foundation for the modern cardboard box during the 1950s and 60s, where development of corrugated cardboard, which consists of several layers of paperboard with a fluted middle layer, made boxes even stronger and more durable.
Advances in machinery in the early 20 th century offered the capability to mass produce, box stitch and distribute the corrugated box to masses, paving the way for cardboard to become the standard material for shipping boxes, and it remains so to this day.
Cardboard boxes have gained widespread popularity for versatility and affordability. They were adopted and popularized by food and beverage manufacturers after Kellogg deemed the box shelf stable and sturdy. They quickly garnered the attention of the emerging ecommerce industry for shipping, storage and retail packaging. Cardboard boxes have aligned themselves as a top suitor for the ecommerce industry and are an indispensible part of manufacturing and logistic.