Consumerism Home life


When I was growing up, we always used Redhead matches, made at the Bryant and May factory in Richmond. I don’t honestly know back then if there were any other brand matches available. Manufacturing has gone to Sweden (half-surprised they haven’t been renamed “Blondes”) but I’ve kept buying them.

I think the quality is dropping markedly. I’m sure it used to be easy to strike a match and get a flame. These days half the time I get a spark but nothing else. I’ll try 3-4 times then chuck it away and grab another. Or I get a match that is ludicrously thin and snaps in my fingers. Should I switch to lighting the stove with a lighter, or a different brand of matches?

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

9 replies on “Matches”

With an electric stove, I haven’t bought a pack for years. Do Redheads have 50 or 47 in the pack these days? At home we always used the imported cheapies, and sometimes had to turn it 90 or 180 deg to get a light.

As a kid I also loved dipping their ends in wax; my theory was that this reduced moisture penetration and made them easier to light in winter.

Managing Director
Readhead Factory
10 Oblegoliebon Straff
Sweden 90210

Dear Mr Bowen,

Thank your for your letter regarding the quality of the matches we produce. It is a continual surprise to us that you Australians still use matches.

We did not buy Bryant and May to produce matches, but we feel obliged to continue the tradition. Unfortunately our shareholders would not appreciate funds being invested in the improvement nor quality control of our matches, so we can only offer our apologies.

I have passed your letter on to the junior clerk who is well qualified to deal with complaints from Australia and also to our marvellous Redhead gas/electronic stove and candle lighter department.

You may find the product on your supermarket shelf and they are superior to others on offer that do not carry the imprateure of Bryant and May. Our product lasts longer,works more reliably and has a child proof catch.

It is popular for not only stove lighting and your Ossie barbeques, but also for multiple candle lighting, such as happens at birthdays and also at inspirational moments between adult persons. Pray do not misunderstand this last point as others have. I think the English term is ‘mood setting candles’.

I can only conclude with Sir, that our matches our very superior to those from that nearby former Duch colony.

Yours faithfully,

Sven Hooplagarten.

Totally uninteresting fact, that most matches are made in sweden because it was a swede that invented the chemical that we strike to light a match.

Check out Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything (I think thats the title) as he talks about it there.

OMG!! Get one of those long gas clicker lighting thingies! (c’mon – you know what I mean). If you pay more than two dollars, you are getting ripped off and they are handy for everything. Definately store out of reach of the kids!!

I second the long gas clicker lighting thingies. I have a couple of spares now that new stove has auto ignition but will not throw them out as they do come in handy occasionally.

If you can get a *reliable* gas clicker thingy, then get it. But I’ve never found one. I’ve found them in other people’s houses, but not on the shelves in shops and, consequently, not in my kitchen.

But now I have a stove with electronic ignition so I don’t have to worry. You could always buy one of those.

However, the easiest solution would probably be to stike the match in a fashion that relies on its compressive strength as a slender column, and not on its compressive and tensile strength as a bending beam.

That is, I bet you’re currently running it along the side of the box with the match head coming ‘last’, so your fingers are in front of the movement and the match is dragging along the box. That’s how to break a modern (ie weak) match.

Instead, ‘push’ it along the box so the stick is almost parallel to the direction of travel and the head is moving at the front of the match (ahead of your fingers). That will at least stop you breaking the match and should give you more pressure on the striking surface so it’ll be more likely to light.

The best way to do it is to put you finger on the head whilst you are striking. You won’t burn your finger becuase they don’t flare up till well after you have moved off the edge of the box. Always done it this way and so do plenty of others. I rarely waste a match.
Had one of those piezio clickers once and never had trouble with it. I wasn’t the one who bought it so perhaps Philip is right about the duds.
We used to get “federal safety matches” in Canberra in the 70’s. The outside box was made of wood, and they had interesting pictures on the box so some of us would collect the boxes.

Bi-Lo and Coles are recalling a batch of their safety matches as they are unsafe. Maybe these are the ones we should be buying for quick ignition!

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