Pugilistic Packaging Revisited
As a package designer, I know something about boxes, but next to nothing about boxing. So really I have no business writing anything on the subject of prize-fighting. (Although, I did once post this vintage advertising postcard under the headline: Pugilistic Packaging.)
Recently, however, I’ve become obsessed with a not-so-famous boxer from the 1920s. So, despite my complete lack of knowledge, next month I’ll be writing something about about him and his career.
Usually, when I stray too far from boxvox’s primary bailiwick, I try to cover my tracks with some paper-thin, package-related rationale.
With that in mind, I’ve been checking into the etymology of “box” & “boxing.”
Unfortunately, “boxing” the sport doesn’t seem to derive from the same word as “box” the container. (Despite Dan Piraro‘s historically-correct-ish 2011 cartoon!)
box (n.1.) Old English box “a wooden container,” also the name of a type of shrub, from Late Latin buxis, from Greek pyxis “boxwood box,” from pyxos “box tree,” of uncertain origin.
box (n.2.) “a blow,” c.1300, of uncertain origin, possibly related to Middle Dutch boke, Middle High German buc, and Danish bask, all meaning “a blow,” perhaps imitative.
I won’t, therefore, have any etymological excuse when I post my 1920s fistic research next month. Still, even though the container and the sport are not related, Dan Piraro and I are not the only ones who thought they should be.
Lots of people have envisioned boxes boxing. Similar to that vintage advertising postcard with patent medicines in a prize-fight. Only here it’s all about the homonyms.
1. Sponge Bob: “Idiot Box” episode
This episode was mainly about boxes as packaging, although it takes its title from a television set that was delivered in a box.
The episode starts with SpongeBob and Patrick waiting for the mail. Squidward sees a large box being delivered to SpongeBob and Patrick. They open the box, which contains a giant flat-screen television, and this heavily surprises Squidward. Patrick and SpongeBob throw the television away but keep the box to play in it. Squidward asks why they threw the television away, and SpongeBob explains that “We don’t need television, as long as we have our… imagination.”
The gag about boxes boxing in a boxing match was the punchline and the last straw for Squidward, after all the packaging shenanigans.
(More videos of boxes boxing, after the fold…)