Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Happy 50th Anniversary Bubble Wrap!

On January 25th, many in our industry noted a celebratory milestone – the 50th anniversary of Bubble Wrap®. While this event was not met with fireworks, marching bands or a tickertape parade, Sealed Air, makers of Bubble Wrap,  did conduct a special limited run of gold Bubble Wrap cushioning on January 25th  (see photo, left). For that one day, the factory lines in the company’s Saddle River, N.J. facility changed from the popular clear to gold to commemorate the historic occasion. A Chicago TV station even did a news story on the anniversary.

Bubble Wrap (basically two sheets of polyethylene film sealed in a secret process that traps air between them) started with an attempt by inventors Marc Chavannes and Al Fielding to develop a plastic textured wallpaper—an idea that, unlike their product, fell flat. While their invention found some success as a greenhouse insulator, its potential wasn’t realized until Chavannes looked out the window of an airplane and noted the almost cushioning effect clouds appeared to have on the plane as it descended. A big-time idea came to fruition: Their product would be ideal as cushioning for fragile items.

Now, having lived a somewhat nomadic life for the last decade or so, I have come to appreciate the cushioning power of Bubble Wrap when packing up to move from here to there. I’m certain that this one product has saved a number of my “irreplaceable” items from ending up broken and in the trash.  Yet beyond salvaging my handcrafted beer steins and my collection of Elvis figurines, I am convinced that Bubble Wrap has also saved my sanity from time to time.   Who hasn’t found stress relief or derived pure entertainment from simply popping the bubbles. Stomping them is fun and twisting is an excellent technique as well.

Whether used for a variety of creative purposes — just check out the annual Bubble Wrap Contest for Young Inventors which we blogged about last year – or for its intended packaging purpose,  Bubble Wrap has found an important  place in American pop (pun intended) culture. So the next time you are moving or enthusiastically puncturing bubble after bubble, please stop for a moment to acknowledge the golden anniversary of Bubble Wrap and tip your hat to Chavannes and Fielding for creating this invaluable product.

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