Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

Plastic Wishbones: Making Even Vegan Wishes Come True

Plastics and Thanksgiving… You knew this blog entry was coming, right?

From protective plastic wrap around the turkey at the store to plastic cutting boards, mixing bowls, tablecloths, Tupperware® and freezer bags – plastic keeps our national feast safe, fresh and convenient from the appetizers to those glorious leftovers. The American Chemistry Council does an excellent job of explaining the “wide range of innovative plastic products that make Thanksgiving dinner easier to manage, and more importantly, can help make it safer to consume.” Its all so practical. But what about the fun, too?

Like plastic wishbones that realistically split, for instance. The Lucky Break Wishbone Corporation in Seattle (motto: “It’s time you got a lucky break!”) produces plastic wishbones even a vegetarian can enjoy. In fact, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) just had a contest in which they awarded five winners a package of 10 of the plastic wishbones.

Here’s what the company’s president, Ken Ahroni (age 47) recently told CNNMoney.com about the origins of his product:

Each Thanksgiving, my household brims with abundance and gratitude. But after dinner my family always squabbles over who gets to break the wishbone. One year I had an idea that would solve the problem for my family and, I was sure, many others on Turkey Day. I was familiar with plastic manufacturing because I ran a consulting firm that helped Christmas-light makers meet quality standards. So I called eight plastic companies and requested samples of breakable plastic. They wondered why I wanted them, but I didn’t tell. After a year of testing we launched our product in 2004: a plastic wishbone with the feel and satisfying snap of a real turkey bone…. At the end of the day, breaking a wishbone is a lot like blowing out birthday candles. There’s a renewed sense of hope and optimism when it snaps.

The mold for the synthetic wishbone was made by Paraflex, Inc. of Tacoma, Washington. According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, when Ahroni was developing a prototype, he discovered that “the most breakable samples often shattered into dangerous shards.” Eventually, Ahroni helped develop the plastic he would ultimately use by working with a manufacturer on a mix that would provide the consistency he was after. In fact, when SPI contacted Ahroni by phone, he would not reveal his secret recipe.

Which is understandable, considering he recently won a $1.7 million copyright infringement lawsuit against Sears (which, after being given samples of Ahroni’s wishbone, had some made by a Chinese manufacturer that offered a lower price on a million or more wishbones). Business is good for the Lucky Break Wishbone Corporation – particularly this time of year.

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