Silly Question: Squaring up to the biscuit tin

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WHY are biscuit tins not square? Chris Vaughan (among others) says it aids efficient stacking of empty tins with 'the longer dimension of an open tin being capable of receiving the shorter dimension of another tin (or two) when turned on its edge.' Byron Hickson believes it is a ploy to tempt you to eat more biscuits while struggling to replace the lid.

Geoff Smart quotes, from the Daily Telegraph a letter written by Huntley and Palmer in 1957: 'The existing sizes were developed because, prior to the war, a much larger range of tins was offered. Small tins were then available which were known as number 1 and number 2 size tins, and for stacking purposes four number 1 size tins equalled in size the half square biscuit tin.

'Eight number 1 tins were equal in size to a square tin and, similarly, four number 2 tins were equal in size to a square tin. These very conveniently fitted both racks and storage spaces and we are afraid that any alteration of the size would now cause considerable inconvenience to the trade.' We trust that makes everything clear.

Why do kamikaze pilots wear crash helmets? Ian McLauchlin believes it may be market testing of a publicity campaign for cyclists to wear helmets. Len Clarke thinks it essential to any crash course in suicide, while Jan Moor thinks it is 'so no one can see their hair standing on end with fright'. Chris Noel says it is 'in order that their heads may be recovered for examination', and Stephen Grime sees the helmet as a postage-paid urn for sending remains to his next of kin.

This week we should like to know: Why are April, May and June used as names for girls only and what is wrong with the other nine months? (David Brenner). What are earlobes for? (Tim Davies). Why is it always a tick when something is right and a cross when it's wrong? (Margaret Postlethwaite). And why do people write to newspapers? (David Sinclair).

Answers and questions to Silly Question, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.

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