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A keychain, key fob or key ring is a small chain, usually made from metal or plastic, that connects a small item to a keyring. The length of a keychain allows an item to be used more easily than if connected directly to a keyring. Some keychains allow one or both ends the ability to rotate, keeping the keychain from becoming twisted, while the item is being used.
A keychain can also be a connecting link between a keyring and the belt of an individual. It is usually employed by personnel whose job demands frequent use of keys, such as a security guard, prison officer, janitor, or retail store manager. The chain is often retractable, and therefore may be a nylon rope, instead of an actual metal chain.
The chain ensures that the keys remain attached to the individual using them, makes accidental loss less likely, and saves on wear and tear on the pockets of the user. Keychains are one of the most common souvenir and advertising items. Keychains are commonly used to promote businesses.
A standard advertising keychain will carry the businesses name and contact information and often a logo. In the 1950s and 1960s, with the improvement of plastic manufacturing techniques, promotional items including keychains became unique. Businesses could place their names on promotional keychains that were three-dimensional for less cost than the standard metal keychains.
Keychains are small and inexpensive enough to become promotional items for larger national companies that might give them out by the millions. For example, with the launch of a new movie or television show, those companies might partner with food companies to provide a character keychain in each box of cereal.
Keychains that currently hold keys are an item that is never long misplaced by the owner. Many keychains also offer functions that the owner wants easily accessible as well.