The Reason Why Your Car Window Is Edged With Tiny Black Dots

iStock.com/Kameleon007
iStock.com/Kameleon007

If you spend a lot of time staring straight ahead while stuck in traffic, you may have wondered what those tiny black dots circling the edges of your car’s windshield are. Or maybe you've never even noticed them. They’re easy to miss, but according to Jalopnik, they serve a few important functions.

That black strip that wraps around the window is called a frit or a frit band, and it’s essentially ceramic paint that has been baked into the glass in a way that makes it impossible to scrape off. It’s there to protect the urethane sealant holding your windshield in place from ultraviolet rays, which, under less secure circumstances, could cause the glass to pop out.

“The frit band also acts to provide a rougher surface for that adhesive to stick to, and it’s a visual barrier, preventing people from seeing that nasty glue from outside,” David Tracy wrote for Jalopnik. The frit has been commonplace since the 1950s and ‘60s, when car manufacturers started swapping out metal trim for adhesives.

Ok, so that explains the solid black strip, but what about those dots?

The reason the dots get smaller as they move inwards is because it creates a gradient pattern that’s more aesthetically pleasing and less obvious—and distracting—to both drivers and passengers.

The dots aren’t there just to look pretty, though. Much of the design has to do with the way windshields are made: When the glass is bent in an oven, the frit heats up faster than the rest of the windshield because it’s black. To reduce optical distortion as a result of this thermal disparity, a dot gradient is used to even out the temperature.

You can also thank a second set of dots on your windshield—right behind the rearview mirror—for helping to keep the sun out of your eyes as you drive.

Now that you're an expert on frit bands, check out our guide to the meanings behind 15 different symbols on your car's dashboard. Never again will you miss another tire pressure warning.

[h/t Jalopnik]

Bathroom Reading: This 18th Century Toilet Was Disguised as a Book

Image courtesy of Daniel Crouch Rare Books - crouchrarebooks.com
Image courtesy of Daniel Crouch Rare Books - crouchrarebooks.com

When producers of the family sitcom Leave It to Beaver wanted to air an episode in 1957 in which the Beav and brother Wally hide their pet alligator from their parents in the toilet tank, CBS was wary. Despite the fact that all humans, fictional or not, needed a commode was irrelevant to the network: It was considered in poor taste to show one.

This bashfulness over toilets has persisted for centuries, as evidenced by a recent offering from Daniel Crouch Rare Books. The “book,” which was produced circa 1750 in France, appears to be a weighty tome meant to impress guests with the owner’s literary tastes. In reality, it’s a toilet.

The combination toilet and book 'Histoire des Pays Bas' is pictured
Image courtesy of Daniel Crouch Rare Books - crouchrarebooks.com

With the cover closed, you wouldn’t know it. Unclasp it and it folds out to a wooden stool, with a gaping hole meant to accommodate a chamber pot underneath. As Atlas Obscura noted, the publisher had a winking sense of humor about it, too. The title, Histoire des Pays Bas, translates to History of the Netherlands. Netherlands. Nether regions.

Perhaps the French weren’t advanced humorists, but they did know how to preserve some semblance of modesty. It’s possible such objects were used to obscure chamber pots while people were traveling.

If you happen to be a collector of fine lavatory antiques, the toilet book can be yours for just under $10,000. As for the Beaver: Network censors prohibited the show from depicting the toilet, but they were allowed to show the tank.

The Reason Why Button-Down Shirts Have Loops On the Back

Erin McCarthy
Erin McCarthy

The apparel industry has presented a number of intriguing mysteries over the years. We’ve previously covered why clothes shrink in the wash, deciphered the laundry care tags on clothes, and figured out why shorts cost as much as pants. But one enduring puzzle persists: What’s with that weird loop on the back of button-down shirts?

The loop, which is found on many dress shirts for both men and women, is a small piece of fabric that typically occupies the space between the shoulder blades, where the yoke (upper back) of the shirt meets the pleat. While it can be an excellent way to annoy someone by tugging on it, history tells us it originally had a much more pragmatic function. The loops first became popular among naval sailors, who didn’t typically have much closet or storage space available for their uniforms. To make putting away and drying their shirts easier, the loops were included so they could be hung from a hook.

The loops didn’t remain exclusive to the Navy, however. In the 1960s, clothing manufacturer GANT added what became known as a locker loop to their dress shirts so their customers—frequently Ivy League college students—could hang the shirts in their lockers without them getting wrinkled. (The loop was originally placed on the back of the collar.) Later, students repurposed the loops to communicate their relationship status. If a man’s loop was missing, it meant he was dating someone. Women adopted an apparel-related signal, too: wearing their boyfriend’s scarf to indicate they were taken.

Particularly enthusiastic partners would rip the loop off spontaneously, which became a bit of a trend in the ‘60s. At the time, women who had crushes wearing Moss brand shirts complained that their loops were so strong and secure that they couldn’t be torn off.

For people who wanted to have a loop without ruining a shirt, one mail-order company offered to send just the loops to people in the mail.

You can still find the loops on shirts today, though they don't appear to have any social significance. Should you find one that's torn, it's probably due to wear, not someone's relationship status.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER