Mass-Produced Items That Are Surprisingly Well-Engineered

The cheapest, simplest things can be the most enduring.

Items we use every day that are made by the millions can last an eternity.

That is a miracle in this day and age, honestly.

Of course back in the day that was the point of manufacturing.

Stoves and refrigerators were used by actual dinosaurs and our grandparents.

But we expect everything to break down sooner than later.

However, there are still things being mass-produced that last.

Redditor Gourmet-Guy wanted everyone to discuss the items still successful in bulk and asked the online community:

"Which cheap and mass-produced item is stupendously well engineered?"

Sometimes the assembly line does its job.

Cheap things can work.


Whistle Whistling GIFGiphy

"Whistle. For a few cents, you can be heard in the middle of nowhere for nearly a mile. Much louder than your voice. Great if you are lost."



"I really like BIC products. Lighters, ballpoint pens, razor blades etc. They're all very robust despite being cheap mass-produced plastic items."


"Until this moment, I had never connected that these BIC products were all from the same company. Amazing that they’ve produced a variety of incredibly cheap but still reasonable quality items."


"I’ve moved away from box lighters in favor of refillable or electric lighters. Those cheap tiny lighters add up as thrown away and I’d think it very good for environment. Not to take away from the smart design. There may be a way to refill Bic lighters I’m unsure."



"The intermodal shipping container, a/k/a the Connex box. There are millions of the damned things all over the world, in use every single day. They are stackable, can be locked together, attach readily to ships, truck trailer frames, and rail cars, and can bear enormous loads."

"The cost of their manufacture compared to their economic use value over their useful lives is next to nothing."


"I was on a vessel a few weeks back when they were doing the lashing on the containers and being in between containers stacked about 20 high would have been so much more terrifying if they hadn’t all fit together so nicely."


so versatile...

"Zip ties - such a simple piece of plastic but so versatile. I have one of the old fashioned chain link fences, some of the fasteners on the middle poles broke and in high winds the fence was swaying like crazy. A half dozen zip ties on the three posts and it doesn’t budge and nobody even knows they’re there."



toilet GIFGiphy

"Toilets. I've been a plumber 20 years and very little has changed, or needed to. Minimal up keep, cheap and easy repair, very long life."


God Bless the toilet. God did good.

Build It

robot laying GIFGiphy

"The Brick. Made out of mud and lasts for centuries and the way it can distribute load for large buildings."


"Clay, not mud! There's a huge difference. Mud bricks don't turn into bisque but clay bricks do."


The Design

"Soda/beer cans. The design has existed for decades with few changes. It’s a way of using a relatively small amount of cheap metal to withstand the pressure of carbonated beverages with a reliable opening mechanism."

"During pandemic I also noticed that some companies stopped using thicker material on the upper ‘ridge’ of the can, probably due to supply shortages. They instead used a sort of stepped system that appeared to be almost as strong."


Shipping Tools

"The humble corrugated cardboard box."

"It's lightweight, strong, splash resistant, somewhat padded, doesn't break down in heat/cold, scratch resistant, recyclable, biodegradeable and able to be assembled cheaply into any size."

"The basic design has existed for over 150 years. The retail shipping industry runs on cardboard boxes."



"The lighter. Spontaneously ignite fire basically whenever you want."


"Specifically, BIC lighters are incredibly reliable. You can find one on the ground that's been outside for months and they still work. Cheaper disposables break in a million ways and more expensive refillable lighters will leave you disappointed if you store them, but you can always keep a BIC handy and know it'll work when you need it."


Cool me Down

Hang In There Cat GIF by jjjjjohnGiphy

"Not exactly cheap, but I'm impressed that I can have a ceiling fan run on high for 15 years straight and not have it explode on me."


So not everything being super expensive is the only way to go.

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