Hey there, all you mistake-makers!
Don’t worry—everyone makes mistakes. In fact, I’ve already hit the ‘Backspace’ button at least five times just typing to this point in the post. Mistakes are inevitable—bound to happen multiple times on a daily basis. They come in all shapes and sizes, transpiring on a small-scale or as a grand goof-up. Typically, the bigger they are, the harder they are to reverse, but, luckily, a lot of small mistakes can be undone.
Today is National Rubber Eraser Day—a day where mankind’s triumph over written mistakes are celebrated! Thanks to this rubber invention, we can make all of our spelling errors, math mistakes, and drawing slip-ups disappear with just as much ease as when they first showed up. Here’s how the mighty eraser works:
When you put marks down on a piece of paper, flakes of pencil lead are dragged across the paper’s fibers and cling to them along the way. Those flakes will stick around for decades so long as they’re left undisturbed, but erasers are able to pick those flakes up from off the paper fibers because the rubber of an eraser is stickier material than the paper fibers and the flakes of pencil lead find their new home on the eraser.
Boasting a near-magical capability, erasers may surprise you for how long they’ve been around. While rubber erasers have only been in production for the last 250 years (roughly) other means of erasing have been around since ancient times. Erasers were not originally made of rubber, but instead of a food that’s probably in your house right now—BREAD!
But unless you’re looking for a snack while you’re undoing some mistakes, rubber erasers are definitely the way to go.
Certain trees excrete rubber to discourage insects from making a feast out of them. This excretion was discovered back in 1770 by a man named Joseph Priestley who noted that a specific type of ‘vegetable gum’ had a great ability to ‘rub out’ pencil marks.
This ‘rubbing gum’ eventually developed the name rubber, so erasers spawned our name for this material. The word ‘eraser’, however, is really only common in the US and Canada. Almost anywhere else you go, people call them ‘rubbers’. Make sure to appreciate the magical abilities of erasers today, and, as always, thanks for reading.