Makey Awards 2012 Nominee 01: Altoids Tin, Most Hackable Gadget

The suggestions for nominees in the 2012 MAKE Magazine Industry Maker Awards are staring to come in. We have some fine candidates so far. One surprise nominee that we received from several people was Altoids, for their mint tins which have become something of their own category of project box in hobby electronics. We giggled at the first suggestion and then took it more seriously when we got the second. Why not? Where would the MintyBoost or our own Mintronics line of products be without the inspiration of the ubiquitous Altoids mint tin?

Here’s the “Story of Altoids,” as told on the paper liner that comes in come of their mint tins:

Altoids, the Original Celebrated Curiously Strong Mints, were first produced in England at the turn of the 19th century during the reign of King George III. Smith & Co. (est. 1780), the small London firm that developed the original “curiously strong” recipe, later became part of Callard & Bowser, a prestigious English confectioner founded in 1837.

Altoids peppermints are specially formulated peppermint lozenges many times stronger than ordinary mints. Their curious strength comes from the more than generous use of real peppermint oil, as prescribed in the original recipe developed by Smith & Co. at the turn of the 19th century.

Today, all Altoids varieties including: Peppermint, wintergreen, Spearmint, Liquorice, Cinnamon, Ginger, and Creme de Menthe are made to the same exacting standards as the original Altoids recipe developed more than 200 years ago.

Craig Smith’s crystal radio in an Altoids tin

In the hacker/maker realm, mint tins have found a home as a handy, sturdy small project box and storage container. In ham radio, they’re used for tiny low-power transmitters, and in hobby stereo, as cases for amps. Other uses include pinhole cameras, pocket zen gardens, desktop trebuchet, first aid and field repair kits, and geocaching stash boxes. 1001 geeky uses! They’ve become an iconic feature of the maker/hacker scene, so we though they were worthy of our acknowledgement.

The MAKE Magazine Industry Maker Awards (aka The Makeys) is our annual award series and ceremony honoring mainstream companies that serve the interests of makers and the maker movement. Between now and World Maker Faire (NYC, Sept 29-30) we’ll be nominating and profiling companies in a series of posts. Then our readers will vote on their favorites and they’ll receive Makey Awards at a glamorous ceremony (OK, a ceremony) at the Faire. See the Makeys landing page for more info, the four nomination categories, and a list of last year’s finalists and winners. And please share your potential nominee ideas in the comments below. Remember, this is for mainstream commercial companies who, in some way(s), serve or embody the maker spirit. We want this program to hold them up and celebrate them to encourage them and others to better serve our interests.


Altoids tin projects on MAKE

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