The Reason Why Your Car's Tires Are Black

Daniel Kalisz, Getty Images
Daniel Kalisz, Getty Images

With the possible exception of some Big Wheels or other child transportation vehicles, most tires are black. You’d be hard-pressed to find a tire shop and come across a Goodyear or Michelin sample that’s any other color.

Natural rubber, however, is closer to an off-white shade, and early-model cars sported that lighter color. Early tire makers also often added zinc oxide to their natural rubber as a way to strengthen the material, resulting in white tires. But at some point, tire manufacturers decided to go darker. Why?

Jalopnik automotive journalist David Tracy pondered the question when he visited Detroit’s Ford Piquette Avenue Plant Museum and came across the white tires of a Ford Model T, a vehicle that began production in 1908. Tracy posed the question of the color transition to Michelin, which informed him that tires changed color when manufacturers began adding carbon black around 1917.

It wasn’t for cosmetic purposes. Carbon black—an elemental carbon made from the incomplete combustion of gas or oil and collected as particles—increases a tire’s durability, in part by blocking damaging UV rays that can cause rubber to crack, and by improving road grip. It also improves tensile strength, making tires more resistant to road wear.

Older tires that weren't treated with carbon black were good for 5000 miles before they needed to be replaced. Tires made with carbon black, meanwhile, could be driven for 50,000 miles or more.

There was another wrinkle: World War I led to a shortage of zinc oxide, as it was needed to make ammunition. That’s when carbon black became tire companies' go-to strengthening material (though zinc oxide does still play a role in the tire-making process today). Carbon black was initially supplied to tire manufacturer B.F. Goodrich by Binney & Smith, the company that produced Crayola crayons, which originally sourced the material for a line of ink pens.

Was that the end of the tire color evolution? Almost. Early on, companies decided to try and limit production costs by only adding carbon black to the treads, inadvertently creating the whitewall tire with a white sidewall and dark treads. The two-tone look is still popular among classic car collectors today.

[h/t Jalopnik]

Blue Apron’s Memorial Day Sale Will Save You $60 On Your First Three Boxes

Scott Eisen/Getty Images
Scott Eisen/Getty Images

If you’ve gone through all the recipes you had bookmarked on your phone and are now on a first-name basis with the folks at the local pizzeria, it might be time to introduce a new wrinkle into your weekly dinner menu. But instead of buying loads of groceries and cookbooks to make your own meal, you can just subscribe to a service like Blue Apron, which will deliver all the ingredients and instructions you need for a unique dinner.

And if you start your subscription before May 26, you can save $20 on each of your first three weekly boxes from the company. That means that whatever plan you choose—two or four meals a week, vegetarian or the Signature plan—you’ll save $60 in total.

With the company’s Signature plan, you’ll get your choice of meat, fish, and Beyond foods, along with options for diabetes-friendly and Weight Watchers-approved dishes. The vegetarian plan loses the meat, but still allows you to choose from a variety of dishes like General Tso's tofu and black bean flautas.

To get your $60 off, head to the Blue Apron website and click “Redeem Offer” at the top of the page to sign up.

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The Reason Target Has Those Giant Red Concrete Spheres Outside

These 2-ton concrete balls are for shoppers' safety, but they pose a risk of their own.
These 2-ton concrete balls are for shoppers' safety, but they pose a risk of their own.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

When it comes to brand recognition, Target has some of the strongest in the retail industry. The company’s name is reinforced by its red and white logo—a literal target—which can also be seen painted around the eye of its mascot, a Bull Terrier named Bullseye. All things considered, it seems like the giant red concrete spheres in front of the brick-and-mortar stores are just another way for Target to make itself so easily recognizable. But, as Taste of Home explains, they’re actually there for your safety, too.

The balls are called bollards, a word that used to mainly refer to the metal or wooden posts built along the edge of a wharf so that sailors had something they could tie their mooring lines around. These days, bollards is also used to describe similar posts in front of buildings, which help mitigate the risk of distracted drivers rolling right into the doors. While most places install more traditionally shaped bollards, Target isn’t the only business to take advantage of the opportunity to get creative—some baseball stadiums feature spherical bollards that look like baseballs.

Although Target’s bollards are supposed to keep shoppers safe from parking lot car accidents, the bright red spheres can be dangerous in a different way. In May 2016, a New Jersey mother sued Target for $1.6 million after her 5-year-old son fell from one of the bollards and shattered his elbow—an injury that required surgery and threatened long-term damage to his range of motion. The following year, another woman filed a lawsuit after one of the 2-ton bollards broke loose and hit her car.

Wondering what else you didn’t know about Target? Find out 15 surprising facts here.

[h/t Taste of Home]