Happy Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day!

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Sealed Air Corporation’s first AirCap (aka Bubble Wrap) production line in Hawthorne, New Jersey, circa 1960. Image courtesy Sealed Air Corporation.

No, it’s not an official national holiday, but it does always take place on a Monday, so there’s that much. Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day, the last Monday in January, honors the packing material so pop-ular that it was a finalist for the 2016 Toy Hall of Fame.

Alfred Fielding designed the vacuum cylinder system that puts the bubbles into Bubble Wrap. (Source: Sealed Air Corporation annual report, 1994.)

If it’s a toy — children and adults the world over seem to think it is — then I was probably the first kid to ever play with it. My father, Alfred Fielding, designed the machine that made the stuff. He and Swiss chemical engineer Marc Chavannes worked in a small rented garage in Hawthorne, New Jersey, to develop the prototype. You can read about them here and here.

Today, the company they founded, Sealed Air Corporation, is a highly diversified international manufacturer of protective packaging and even medical products. Sealed Air is still the world’s largest manufacturer of the bubbly cushioning material and still holds the brand of Bubble Wrap. Other companies have made imitation bubble wraps since the original patents expired in the 1980s. Meanwhile, Sealed Air put its extensive Research and Development resources into finding ways to make their products recyclable and economical.

To think that it all started in a small factory on a flood plain of the Passaic River in Hawthorne, New Jersey. And I was there — because of my pop!

So have a happy Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day! Celebrate with something appropriately bubbly!

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