Why Cardboard Boxes Make For Perfect Toys

Sometimes what’s most simple is the best.

By Jessie Schiewe

(Nickelodeon)

(Nickelodeon)

This holiday season, give a kid a box. Seriously.

A new report published by the American Academy of Pediatrics lists the cardboard box as the ideal gift to give youngsters. Along with other old-fashioned toys, like puzzles, coloring books, and card games, boxes inspire creativity and imagination in kids in ways that newer, more high-tech toys do not. Forgoing tactile, interactive activities for electronic entertainment might be the easier route when raising children, but it’s not the wisest. Too much time playing with gadgets can interfere with adolescents’ speech and language development, as well as lead to obesity.

Who would have thought that an object created out of necessity more than 200 years ago would become the choice gift for kids centuries later? Apparently, quite a few people.

The creators of Nickelodeon’s Rugrats certainly knew that kids loved boxes. They created a number of episodes centered around the humble object, including one from the second season called "The Box" that first aired in 1993. In it, the babies get hold of a large cardboard box (that used to contain a play set called the Kiddie Carnival that Tommy's dad Stu spends the entirety of the episode building).

(Nickelodeon)

(Nickelodeon)

Like an empty canvas, the box inspires a number of vivid make-believe games amongst the kids. Chuckie imagines it as an airplane. Tommy envisions himself dancing by a jungle campfire. The twins engage in a sword fight using ripped off pieces from the box.

"You dumb babies! It's just a stupid BOX!" Angelica shrieks at the babies later in the episode. She doesn't understand how they can be so entranced by such a simple object. She obviously doesn't get "it."

But other pop culture icons do. Sponge Bob once ordered a large television just so that he could play with the box it came in. Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake revolutionized the multivalent uses of a box with their Emmy award-winning 2009 song, "Dick in a Box."

And who could forget Playhouse Disney's 1998 children's show, Out of the Box? The entire focal point of that series revolved around the shenanigans that went on inside of a magical playhouse made out of cardboard boxes.

So this holiday season, save yourself some money and give the gift of box(es). Just make sure it's really big and that the person you're giving it to is under the age of 5. Any older and they'll just resent you.

(Disney Playhouse)

(Disney Playhouse)

 

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