It’s a familiar scenario, you’re standing in that long line at the grocery store and when you’re finally the one at the register, they ask the question: “Paper or plastic?” - While the plastic grocery bag has only been around since the 1960s, paper grocery bags are almost a century older.
Margaret Knight is now be considered the “mother of the grocery bag” and is one of the first female inventors to hold a patent.
Knight started a company called the Eastern Paper Bag Company in 1870. She began inventing early in her life after observing an accident in a textile mill, where she began working at the young age of 12 years old.
Sometime later, while working in a paper bag plant, Knight created a machine to automatically fold and glue the paper bag bottoms to create the flat-bottom that we utilize in paper bags now. She received the patent for this machine in 1871 after having to prove in court that it was indeed her invention.
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