A keychain (also known as a key fob or keyring) is a small metal ring or chain to which many keys can be attached. The length of a keychain makes it easier to use an item than if it were connected directly to a keyring. Certain keychains allow one or both ends to spin, preventing the object from becoming twisted while in use.
A keychain can also serve as a connector between a keyring and a person's belt. It is typically used by employees whose jobs require regular key use, such as security guards, prison officers, cleaners, or retail store managers. Because the chain is frequently retractable, it may be a nylon rope rather than a metal chain. The chain keeps the keys attached to the person who is using them, reduces accidental loss, and reduces wear and tear on the user's pockets.
Keychains are a popular type of souvenir and advertising item. Keychains are frequently used to advertise businesses. A standard advertising keychain will include the company's name and contact information, as well as a logo.
With the advancement of plastic manufacturing techniques in the 1950s and 1960s, promotional items such as keychains became one-of-a-kind. Businesses could put their logos on three-dimensional promotional keychains for less than the price of standard metal keychains.
Keychains are small and inexpensive enough to serve as promotional items for larger national corporations that may distribute millions of them. For example, when a new movie or television show is released, those companies may collaborate with food companies to include a character keychain in each box of cereal.
Keychains that currently hold keys are an item that the owner never loses. People will sometimes attach their keychain to their belt (or belt loop) to avoid losing it or to make it easier to access. Many keychains also include functions that the owner wishes to have easily accessible. These include an army knife, a bottle opener, an electronic organizer, scissors, an address book, family photos, a nail clipper, a pill case, and even pepper spray.