Everyone knows what bubble wrap is. It has been an indispensable part of the packaging industry for decades and an amusing aside to those wishing to relieve stress. Yet, considering most of us wouldn’t give it a second thought if we saw it, you have to wonder where it came from, what was the genesis, and is Bubble Wrap really its name?
To answer the latter question, yes, Bubble Wrap is the official name, although it’s heavily trademarked by the Sealed Air Corporation, a company that began life in 1957.
Back then, American engineer Alfred Fielding and Swiss inventor Marc Chavannes came up with the idea of a new type of wallpaper, one that would be 3D in effect while also needing to be durable, therefore needing to be made from plastic. They couldn’t get the wallpaper to work convincingly, however they soon realised their idea could easily be utilised as new form of packaging. They took this single idea and founded the Sealed Air Corporation in 1960, and the rest, as they say, is history.
To this day, bubble wrap remains one of the foremost plastic packaging products and is the go-to for most when dealing with the packing and movement of fragile objects. Being cheap to produce and buy, getting it in bulk has become available to all in recent years.
As an added and amusing side effect, it also became the go to for many as a stress reliever, with the gratifying pop when pressed proving highly satisfactory – we recommend grabbing a handful and giving it a good twist. The recognition of such has seen the rise in virtual options, with the bubble wrap popping app being one of the first available with the release of the original iPhone. You can even buy a Mugen Puchipuchi, a Japanese bubble wrap key chain that simulates the popping effect, for those with twitchy fingers.
We will dive further into the manufacturing of bubble wrap in the new year. For now, however, enjoy the fact that a failed product from the 1950’s led to one of the biggest creations of the 20th Century.