Years ago, when I first heard someone tell me "it's in the jockey box", I asked them to repeat what I just heard. "The what?", I asked. Of course, my friend was talking about the glove box, as most normal, red-blooded Americans call it. Or do they?

Photo by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media
Photo by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media.
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Jockey, what?

I've been a Montanan for 30+ years, and since the first time I heard a glove box called a jockey box, I've noticed it's not that uncommon. At least one of my coworkers calls it a jockey box. But why? Have jocks or jockeys or jockstraps ever been stored in the minuscule storage area? No. Car and Driver wrote a great history of the glove box, which made its debut in the 1915 Pace Arrow.

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Photo by Anna Gowthorpe/Getty Images
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Gloves were a driving necessity.

Back in the early days of automobiling, sturdy gloves were not a fashion accessory. Cranking the engine by hand to start it up, no power steering, ineffective heating, and frequent repairs made gloves mandatory. Hence, the small box in the dash. For gloves. Not jockeys.

Photo by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media
Photo by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media
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The compartment is basically useless.

Let's be honest. The storage capacity in most automobile glove compartments (or, if you insist, "jockey box") is meager. In my sedan, there's barely room for the owner's manual and a couple of random items. My glove box normally contains a giant pile of extra fast food napkins. Great for wiping up spilled coffee, blowing your nose, or emergency-use toilet paper. I tend to keep the more important items (chap stick, gum, a pack of antacid, pocket knife, business cards, chargers, etc) in the center console where they're more accessible.

Photo by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media
Photo by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media
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Apparently, "jockey box" is a Rocky Mountain regional thing.

Actual jockey boxes are coolers/equipment used in the refrigeration business, as demonstrated by this keg beer chiller company. Old car website ItStillRuns.com thinks that the term "jockey box" may have transferred from horse and rider days to the automobile. They note that the term is heard in parts of the Northwest.

So, what do you call the small, impractical, hard-to-reach-from-the-drivers-seat storage compartment in the dash of your vehicle? Is it a glove box, or is it a jockey box?

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