Happy Birthday! The Goon Bag Notches Up A Half Century in 2015

Australian’s have been responsible for some of the world’s greatest innovations, from the refrigerator to the electric drill, the black box flight recorder to the bionic ear. Oh, and a little thing called Wi-Fi.

But perhaps there is no more iconic Australian invention than the humble goon bag.

Whether you’ve enjoyed a cool glass of sealed-fresh-vino from a cask in the fridge, or skolled it straight from the nozzle on a bag tied to a Hills Hoist, it’s likely you’re familiar with the plastic flex of a boxed wine nozzle.

And now it’s time to tip your hat, because today we celebrate fifty years since arguably our most jovial invention came to be.

It was 20 April 1965 that South Australian winemaker Thomas Angove lodged his patent for the new way to store wine, after searching for a vessel to sell his cheaper reds in bulk.

The concept was simple: fill polyethylene bladders with a gallon of wine and place them in corrugated boxes. Genius.

passed out burt reynolds

A well-earned rest after a hard night’s goon of fortune. Pic: bradleypjohnson, Flickr.

Rumour has it that Angove came up with the idea after seeing a picture of a Greek shepherd drinking liquid from a goatskin.

However, that original design required the consumer to cut the corner of the bladder and then squeeze out the air and reseal it with a plastic peg. It wasn’t until another Australian inventor, Charles Malpas, teamed up with Penfolds Wines to patent a plastic tap to replace the peg, two years later.

The beauty of this auxiliary innovation was that the air-tight tap significantly reduced oxidisation – the arch enemy of wine – allowing a bag from the barrel to still taste fresh for up to a month after opening.

The man who started it all passed away in 2010 at a well-aged 92. At the time, his son and managing director of Angove Family Winemakers, John Angove, summed up the character and persistence required of his father, and all great Aussie inventors.

“I remember Dad coming home with this sort of prototype of a plastic bag inside a cardboard box and I remember thinking to myself and I probably said it to Dad, ‘That’s crazy, nobody will buy wine in a plastic bag stuck inside a cardboard box’,” John recalled.

“But in his usual manner he persisted.”

So raise a goon-filled glass this year, and may this great Aussie invention inspire you to start thinking outside of the box.

Image: 8tracks.com, Sam Lawrence Goon of Fortune