Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day falls on Monday 27th January. Now, if I ever meet someone who swears that they take no pleasure from popping bubble wrap, I’ll quietly assume that they are either a pathological liar or come from a deprived background.
My point is, exploding those miniature pockets of insulated air with your fingertips is so relaxing that it’s actually considered a form of therapy, as just sixty seconds of popping provides stress relief equivalent to 33 minutes of massage. But do you know why bubble wrap was created? It wasn’t originally intended for packaging; it’s something far more off-the-wall. Actually… no, it’s not.
American engineers Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes invented bubble wrap in 1957 by sealing together two shower curtains. Why? Because they thought it would make good wallpaper. That’s right, Alfie and the Chavmeister reckoned that people would actually want to stick it on their living room wall as a backdrop whilst watching I Love Lucy. Needless to say, it was a colossal failure.
However, after a few years of being used as greenhouse insulation, in 1961 the duo discovered its effectiveness as a protective packaging. It was from here that the newly branded Bubble Wrap began to make a name for itself, especially with its first client being an established business of many decades: IBM.
During my brief research into the history of bubble wrap, I also found out that toy company Bandai created a virtual keyring version called Mugen Puchipuchi. Meanwhile, Sealed Air, the makers of the original Bubble Wrap, sponsor an annual competition for young inventors that challenges them to find other uses for the material, from an alternative form of bandage to a comfortable albeit noisy sleeping bag.
Over time, bubble wrap has become a generic term for the product and there are multiple producers, but the genuine Bubble Wrap brand is still very much alive and well, having celebrated its fiftieth birthday in 2010.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to visit the post office to buy a roll of the stuff in time for Monday’s popping session. I suggest you do the same, especially if, like me, you prefer the far more aggressive technique of twisting entire sheets in one massive display of cathartic release. Oh yeaaaahhhhhhh!