A Very Unique Cremation Urn

By Linda Banks

Image: Pringles Original by Mike Mozart*

Unique Urns All Around Us

In today's day and age, people choosing cremation no longer feel limited to select traditional cremation urns that sit prominently on a fireplace mantel. With the increasing popularity of cremation as an alternative for burial, many new and unique options are now available to hold our cremated remains - metal urns, wooden urns for ashes, biodegradable urns for ashes, companion cremation urns, small keepsake urns, cremation jewelry and more. We can choose a unique urn for cremation that reflects our religious affiliation, military service, favorite sports team or hobby - or any funeral urn to meet your imagination.

Cremation options don't stop there, however. Many individuals have selected unusual, cool cremation urns that match who they were in life. Almost any container can be used as an urn, provided it has a lid. Whether it can stay as an urn is another story, as material composition greatly affects the longevity of any container - which is why modern unique urns for human ashes are made with materials like metal, ceramics or treated wood. Other individuals have gone for even stranger options for cremation. Did you know that Walter Morrison, the inventor of the frisbee, had his cremated remains turned into a frisbee? Another such example is Fredric Baur.

American chemist Fredric Baur, Ph.D., chose a unique and personal container to hold his cremated remains. While he may not be a household name, his contribution to society can be seen everywhere, and his cremation urn was just as unique: Baur requested that his remains be buried in a Pringles® potato chip can. While this might be an unusual choice for some of us, the choice was understandable for Baur, as he is credited with designing the tube that holds the Pringles chips.

In the 1960's, Baur was living in Cincinnati and working for Procter and Gamble when the company developed a chip made from potato flour that was molded into a curved shape. These chips would come to be known as Pringles, of course. Baur, a food storage expert, was responsible for designing the familiar red tube that is an iconic symbol of snack food. Given the unique shape of each Pringles chip and the need for a sturdy container that kept them in shape while maximizing how many chips fit in each container, the Pringles tube was a revolutionary design. In 1966 he applied for a patent for the tubular container and for the method used to package the chips in the container, and his patent was granted in 1970.

A Distinctive Urn Burial

Initially people were hesitant to try a potato chip that came from a can instead of a bag. But many did try it and Pringles became a household name. While new flavors have been introduced, the can designed by Fredric Baur has remained unchanged. Fifty years later, Pringles are still on grocery shelves and Baur's packaging is credited with being a key selling point. In fact, the engineered food was so successful that Proctor & Gamble sold Pringles to Diamond Foods in 2011 for a reported $2.35 billion.

Before his death in 2008, Baur requested that he be cremated and that a portion of his remains be placed in a Pringles can and buried. After his death, Time magazine interviewed the Baur family about their father's request. "When my dad first raised the burial idea in the 1980s, I chuckled about it," said Lawrence, Baur's oldest son. He said his dad was proud of the design of the can and thought about using it for a cremation urn for years.

When Fredric Baur died in 2008 at the age of 89, his children honored his wishes and stopped at Walgreen's for a can of Pringles on their way to the funeral home. In addition to the Pringles can, a portion of his remains was placed in a more traditional burial urn for ashes and interred along with the Pringles can. Another portion was placed in a sharing urn and given to a grandson.

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Baur is not alone in choosing a food container for his cremated remains. Larry Clinton, of Bessemer City, North Carolina, requested that his cremated remains be placed in a Dukes Mayonnaise jar, a food that he loved, and reportedly put on everything he ate. When his wife contacted Duke's Mayonnaise, the company provided a jar with a special label for Mr. Clinton.

Unique urns are all around us, whether it's cremation jewelry, cremation photo urns or something a bit stranger like a Pringles can. If you or a family member decides to choose cremation as an alternative to burial, consider the options that you can choose for a cremation urn - whether you opt for a photo urn or a Pringles can.

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