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The Coyle Egg-Safety Carton
by Jim Easterday

Next time you pull an egg carton from the fridge, pause and remember Joseph Coyle.

Who's he? He invented the egg carton in 1911 to solve a dispute. A farmer was shipping eggs to a hotel and the eggs often arrived broken. The hotel owner and the farmer blamed one another and no one was happy.

(All images and documentation courtesy of the Bulkley Valley Museum, Highway 16 and Main St, Smithers, BC)



Joseph L. Coyle with daughter Ellen with her little playmate Violet Whitlow (the only two children in Aldermere at this time), at the McNeil's Store in Aldermere. May 18, 1913

Click to zoom

Mr. Coyle designed an egg carton made of paper that kept the eggs safe from the farm to the hotel. You could even drop the carton and if it landed right, the fragile eggs would survive.

Even more interesting, there is a local connection to this story. The inventor, Joseph Coyle, was the owner and founder of the Interior News newspaper in Smithers in 1911, and the eggs were being delivered from a Bulkley Valley farm to the Aldermere Hotel near present-day Telkwa.


The logo for the Egg-Safety Carton Co. in Chicago, 1927 - remember paper cartons?

Mr. Coyle produced his egg cartons by hand in Smithers for years then designed machinery to make egg cartons in quantity. By 1919, he decided to move from Smithers to Vancouver to manufacture egg cartons with help from United Paper Products. That business failed and Joseph moved his machinery to Los Angeles.

Investors were granted licensing rights and Coyle Egg - Safety Cartons were manufactured in Chicago, New York, Pittsburgh and London Ontario for markets around the world. And the original idea came from a Bulkley Valley newspaper owner out to settle an argument over broken eggs.

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