13 Facts About Caboodles Makeup Organizers

Photo illustration by Mental Floss. Images: Amazon (Caboodles), iStock (background).
Photo illustration by Mental Floss. Images: Amazon (Caboodles), iStock (background).

Teen girls in the late '80s and early '90s had to have a Caboodles organizer—the bright plastic cases filled with trays for organizing their makeup. (If you had one, you probably grew up to be the kind of person who hangs out in The Container Store for fun.) Now, the vintage organizers are back in stores. Here's what you should know.

1. THEY WERE INSPIRED BY TACKLE BOXES.

Although company legend has it that Caboodles were inspired by a 1986 People magazine photo shoot where Vanna White used a fishing tackle box as a makeup organizer, Caboodles were actually the brainchild of New Zealand native Leonie Mateer. When she relocated to California in the 1980s, Mateer wanted to start a business; she recalled that she had once seen a model arriving to a photoshoot with a tackle box to organize her cosmetics, and an idea was born.

2. THE FIRST COMPANY MATEER APPROACHED REJECTED THE IDEA.

Mateer writes in her book, The Caboodle Blueprint: Turn Your Idea Into Millions, that she began by researching all the companies that made tackle boxes. The first company she approached offered to use their tools to create the boxes, then backed out.

3. MATEER GAVE THE IDEA AWAY.

The second manufacturer Mateer called (Plano Molding, though she doesn't name the company in her book) was interested, and hired her to launch Caboodles. "[The company] initially hired me as a consultant to create the line, market and develop the brand, set up the rep force and sell the product to the retailers," Mateer writes. "As I didn't have the capital required to launch a full product line, this manufacturer immediately took ownership of the brand and the products and invested all the capital required to create, market, and sell the product. I became an employee of this company." Later in Blueprint, she acknowledges that she gave the idea away: "I was given something that money cannot buy—hands on experience … I often say that Caboodles was my college education." Mateer left Caboodles in the early '90s to start a competitor, Sassaby, that was purchased by Estee Lauder; she did eventually return to Caboodles as a consultant.

4. SHE CAME UP WITH THE NAME IN THE BATHTUB.

"I knew that the name needed to be colorful if it was to appeal to my target audience—teens," Mateer writes in Blueprint, and she wanted it to be a C word. "I was sitting in my bathtub reading a huge Oxford English Dictionary," she recalled. "I came across 'Caboodles,' which had a definition of 'a collection or clutter of things.' How perfect, I thought, for an organizer box."

5. THE COLORS CAME FROM HAIR DRYERS.

Just as the name had to be colorful, so did the boxes themselves. To come up with just the right ones, Mateer and the manufacturer visited "a local discount store where I chose four brightly colored plastic hair dryers in peach, yellow, pink, and purple," she writes. As she was checking out, she told a clerk who was curious about why they were buying so many hair dryers that they were for her new product, Caboodles—it was the first time she had named her idea out loud.

6. THEY HIT THE MARKET WITH THE TAGLINE "THE WHOLE KIT 'N' CABOODLE GOES INTO A CABOODLE!"

The first boxes, called "on-the-go organizers," hit the market in 1987. They were a runaway hit, selling 2 million units in the first two years. In 1992, The New York Times reported that an official at Plano said the company "now sells far more makeup boxes than it does tackle boxes," and that "nearly 80 percent of the teen-age girls in the country are aware of Caboodles." Eventually the line grew to 70 products, which retailed between $5 and $40.

7. THE ORGANIZER'S FIRST COMMERCIAL WASN'T EXACTLY PROGRESSIVE.

In the ad, which came out in 1988, two sisters hear from their brother that his friend is coming over "in his Porsche." The girls quickly run upstairs to get dolled up. The sister with the Caboodles case is ready in a snap; her sister, not so much. The friend with the Porsche? He turns out to be a nerd.

8. THE FANS WERE DEVOTED.

One 13-year-old fan from a suburb of Minneapolis told the Times that "she and her friends would make fun of any compatriot foolish enough to show up at a slumber party with a rival brand." Way harsh.

9. THERE WAS A LINE FOR KIDS …

It was targeted to girls aged 5 to 10. "Little ones can use the Caboodles Playsets for fantasy play," Meredith Moss wrote in the Dayton Daily News in 1993. "The cases come with a little fashion doll and have themes ranging from a beauty spa and beach to a workout gym and a wedding." There were also necklaces equipped with tiny Caboodles "that open to reveal an accessory inside."

10. … AND A CABOODLES BARBIE.

In the early '90s, Caboodles partnered with Mattel to release a Caboodles Barbie. The doll retailed for $12.99 and came with "a real makeup case and glitter beach makeup," according to a 1993 ad. You can still get one on Etsy or eBay.

11. DEBBIE GIBSON APPEARED IN A CABOODLES COMMERCIAL.

The pop star was "the original face of Caboodles," according to a press release. In 2013, she promoted Caboodles again, posting a video of herself on her YouTube channel with a Caboodles purse ("Two brands that ruled the 80s are now sophisticated, grown up versions—Pop Icon Debbie Gibson and Fashion Icon Caboodles," the info read). "I've got my life in here," she said, "including my makeup, all organized."

12. THE VINTAGE CASES ARE BACK.

You can now relive your extremely organized teen years (hopefully without the awkwardness) by picking up a brand new Caboodle—they're available on Amazon or at Target, Urban Outfitters, and Ulta.

13. GYMNAST SIMONE BILES IS A BRAND AMBASSADOR.

In celebration of Caboodles' 30th anniversary in 2017, Olympic gymnast Simone Biles—"an avid fan of Caboodles from an early age," according to a press release—signed on to be Chief Design Influencer for a line of Caboodles products. "I've always been a fan of Caboodles and am so excited to be able to help develop products that represent my personality and fashion sense in and out of the gym," she said. "Caboodles has been a big part of my cosmetic routine for as long as I can remember and it's a brand that I continue to rely on today."

10 Wireless Chargers Designed to Make Life Easier

La Lucia/Moshi
La Lucia/Moshi

While our smart devices and gadgets are necessary in our everyday life, the worst part is the clumsy collection of cords and chargers that go along with them. Thankfully, there are more streamlined ways to keep your phone, AirPods, Apple Watch, and other electronics powered-up. Check out these 10 wireless chargers that are designed to make your life convenient and connected.

1. Otto Q Wireless Fast Charging Pad; $40

Otto Q Wireless Fast Charging Pad
Moshi

Touted as one of the world's fastest chargers, this wireless model from Moshi is ideal for anyone looking to power-up their phone or AirPods in a hurry. It sports a soft, cushioned design and features a proprietary Q-coil module that allows it to charge through a case as thick as 5mm.

Buy it: Mental Floss Shop

2. Gotek Wireless Charging Music Station; $57

Gotek Wireless Charging Music Station
Rego Tech

Consolidate your bedside table with this clock, Bluetooth 5.0 speaker, and wireless charger, all in one. It comes with a built-in radio and glossy LED display with three levels of brightness to suit your style.

Buy it: Mental Floss Shop

3. BentoStack PowerHub 5000; $100 (37 percent off)

BentoStack PowerHub 5000
Function101

This compact Apple accessory organizer will wirelessly charge, port, and store your device accessories in one compact hub. It stacks to look neat and keep you from losing another small piece of equipment.

Buy it: Mental Floss Shop

4. Porto Q 5K Portable Battery with Built-in Wireless Charger; $85

Porto Q 5K Portable Battery with Built-in Wireless Charger
Moshi

This wireless charger doubles as a portable battery, so when your charge dies, the backup battery will double your device’s life. Your friends will love being able to borrow a charge, too, with the easy, non-slip hook-up.

Buy it: Mental Floss Shop

5. 4-in-1 Versatile Wireless Charger; $41 (31 percent off)

4-in-1 Versatile Wireless Charger
La Lucia

Put all of those tangled cords to rest with this single, temperature-controlled charging stand that can work on four devices at once. It even has a built-in safeguard to protect against overcharging.

Buy it: Mental Floss Shop

6. GRAVITIS™ Wireless Car Charger; $20 (31 percent off)

GRAVITIS™ Wireless Car Charger
Origaudio

If you need to charge your phone while also using it as a GPS, this wireless device hooks right into the car’s air vent for safe visibility. Your device will be fully charged within two to three hours, making it perfect for road trips.

Buy it: Mental Floss Shop

7. Futura X Wireless 15W Fast Charging Pad; $35 (30 percent off)

Futura X Wireless 15W Fast Charging Pad
Bezalel

This incredibly thin, tiny charger is designed for anyone looking to declutter their desk or nightstand. Using a USB-C cord for a power source, this wireless charger features a built-in cooling system and is simple to set up—once plugged in, you just have to rest your phone on top to get it working.

Buy it: Mental Floss Shop

8. Apple Watch Wireless Charger Keychain; $20 (59 percent off)

Apple Watch Wireless Charger Keychain
Go Gadgets

This Apple Watch charger is all about convenience on the go. Simply attach the charger to your keys or backpack and wrap your Apple Watch around its magnetic center ring. The whole thing is small enough to be easily carried with you wherever you're traveling, whether you're commuting or out on a day trip.

Buy it: Mental Floss Shop

9. Wireless Charger with 30W Power Delivery & 18W Fast Charger Ports; $55 (38 percent off)

Wireless Charger from TechSmarter
TechSmarter

Fuel up to three devices at once, including a laptop, with this single unit. It can wirelessly charge or hook up to USB and USB-C to consolidate your charging station.

Buy it: Mental Floss Shop

10. FurniQi Bamboo Wireless Charging Side Table; $150 (24 percent off)

FurniQi Bamboo Wireless Charging Side Table
FoneSalesman

This bamboo table is actually a wireless charger—all you have to do is set your device down on the designated charging spot and you're good to go. Easy to construct and completely discreet, this is a novel way to charge your device while entertaining guests or just enjoying your morning coffee.

Buy it: Mental Floss Shop

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12 Facts About Richard Simmons

Getty
Getty

Richard Simmons was everywhere during the 1980s and 1990s. From talk show appearances to Sweatin' to the Oldies video tapes, Simmons was the world's most memorable exercise advocate ... until he dropped out of sight.

In 2017, Simmons became the subject of the Missing Richard Simmons podcast, which took the central conceit of Serial and dropped it into a group fitness class. The podcast recounted filmmaker Dan Taberski’s attempts to coerce Simmons out of an apparently self-imposed three-year exile, but still left plenty of Simmons lore to pore over. Check out 12 things that may help you better understand the man behind the sequined tank tops, who was born on July 12, 1948.

1. Richard Simmons was almost Father Simmons.

Born in 1948, Simmons was raised in a very religious household in the French Quarter of New Orleans. After graduating from high school, he entered a Dominican seminary in Iowa and stayed for nearly two years before leaving. “It just wasn’t for me,” he said, citing his 240-pound frame that had been engorged on food addiction from an early age and his “loud” persona as being less than fitting for the job. Simmons also tried getting into medicine but found that “dead bodies [and] blood” were unnerving. He also had stints as a cosmetics executive and fashion illustrator before finding his niche in the fitness industry, opening the Anatomy Asylum exercise studio in 1975.

2. An anonymous note led to Richard Simmons's body transformation.

A photo of Richard Simmons
Getty Images

According to a 1981 feature in The New York Times, Simmons was working as a “fat model” in Europe in 1968 when he found a handwritten note stuck to his car. “Fat people die young,” the paper read. “Please don’t die. Anonymous.” Rattled by the message, the then-268-pound Simmons developed an eating disorder, surviving on water and lettuce for more than two months. Eventually, he recovered and developed a new philosophy: "Love yourself, move your body and watch your portions."

3. Richard Simmons appeared in two Federico Fellini movies.

Before Simmons slimmed down, he was enjoying the cuisine of Florence, Italy, where he was studying art in the late 1960s. While there, Simmons nabbed parts in two movies by acclaimed Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini: Satyricon and The Clowns. The footage is apparently the only existing evidence of his former frame: Simmons once said he “burned” all other photos prior to his weight loss.

4. Richard Simmons revolutionized the '80s fitness tape craze.

No video store in the 1980s was complete without a section devoted to fitness. Industry stars like Jake Steinfeld and Tony Little shared shelf space with tapes from Jane Fonda and Arnold Schwarzenegger. In almost all of these releases, perfectly-proportioned motivators and models led viewers through rigorous workout routines. When Simmons started his Sweatin’ to the Oldies series in 1988, he elected to populate his stage with regular people who were still struggling with weight loss. Consumers appreciated that Simmons wasn’t holding them up to a fitness magazine ideal, and the Sweatin’ series went on to sell 25 million copies.

5. Richard Simmons has been known to confront overeaters.

Early in his mission to eliminate excess adipose tissue, Simmons admitted to confronting total strangers over some of their dietary choices. “I’ll see an overweight woman eating a butterscotch sundae,” he told People in 1981, “and I’ll sit at her table and say, ‘What is this?’” When he operated a trendy Los Angeles eatery he called Ruffage in 1975, he’d also sit down with his customers and tell them if they needed to lose weight.

6. Richard Simmons once replaced Alex Trebek.

In 1987, syndicated TV distributor Lorimar attempted to capitalize on the home-shopping craze with ValueTelevision, a one-hour show where viewers could place orders via the telephone for featured products. The series was co-hosted by Jeopardy! star Alex Trebek. When the ratings were less than Lorimar anticipated, they fired Trebek and replaced him with Simmons. Nothing seemed to work, and the show was canceled in June.

7. Richard Simmons used to tour shopping malls.

Beginning in 1979, Simmons appeared on the ABC soap opera General Hospital as a fitness instructor. With the cast, he began making personal appearances at shopping malls: Simmons was so impressed by the number of people he could reach this way that he continued even after leaving the show in the early 1980s. “I travel almost 300 days a year,” he said in 1991. “I do mostly shopping malls, because everyone will come to a shopping mall, no matter what they weigh, no matter their economic structure, no matter what they drive. The malls are the meeting places of America. And so that's where I go."

8. Richard Simmons doesn't like sarcasm.

A photo of Richard Simmons
Getty Images

In 2004, Simmons was at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport when a fellow passenger made a caustic remark about his Sweatin’ to the Oldies series of tapes. According to police, the man spotted Simmons and shouted, “Hey, everybody, it’s Richard Simmons. Let’s drop our bags and rock to the ‘50s.” The heckling was unappreciated by Simmons, who reportedly walked over and slapped the man across the face. According to the Bangor Daily News, police cited him with misdemeanor assault. The case was later settled and dropped.

9. David Letterman gave Richard Simmons an asthma attack.

Simmons was a frequent guest on David Letterman’s late-night talk shows, with Letterman often playing the straight man to the hyper antics of Simmons. In 2000, Simmons took a break from the appearances after Letterman playfully sprayed him with a fire extinguisher, prompting the asthmatic Simmons to have so much trouble breathing that paramedics were called. The normally affable Simmons was so upset by the incident that he refused to appear on the show for six years.

10. Richard Simmons doesn't like restaurants.

Speaking with the Denver Post in 2008, Simmons said that he very rarely visits restaurants owing to the fact that people can’t stop craning their necks to see what the diet guru has ordered. To maintain some semblance of privacy, Simmons typically gets room service while traveling. He also avoids grocery stores, citing concerns that people tend to call him over and ask him to read the ingredients label to see if it’s a healthy option.

11. Richard Simmons called his dogs on the phone.

A photo of Richard Simmons
Getty Images

Describing himself as a “loner” who doesn’t have many friends, Simmons once revealed a strong emotional bond with his three Dalmatians he named after characters in Gone with the Wind. When traveling, Simmons said he would call his house and sing to them over the telephone.

12. Richard Simmons foreshadowed his own exit in 1981.

As his fame and success grew, Simmons became a fixture on television and in print. Speaking to People for a profile in November 1981, the fitness expert said he received 25,000 to 30,000 letters every day and tried to meet as many people who requested his help as possible. “The day I don’t love any of this,” he said, “I’ll walk away.”

This story has been updated for 2020.