n the Beacon Journal newsroom, we receive lots of packages stuffed with Bubble Wrap. And while the items blanketed so tightly inside, usually products being pitched by PR people, aren’t always a hit, the Bubble Wrap is.
An editor used to keep a sheet of the stuff nearby before being moved closer to a group of reporters who weren’t fond of her love for popping it.
“I did it to relieve stress and to fill space, and because I just liked it,” said Yuvonne Bruce, assistant features editor. “My favorite are the tiny bubbles because the sound they make when they pop is more musical. I really like to pop them several bubbles at a time by twisting the wrap in my hand. Heavenly noise!”
We can’t resist Bubble Wrap. People post about it on Facebook and Pinterest. It has appeared in movies, including Wall-E, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult, Liar Liar and Dude, Where’s My Car. There are smartphone apps that duplicate the popping experience. I know people who have hidden it beneath a rug near the back door, so when the kids, dogs or spouse came in, they were in for a big surprise.
Why are we telling you all this? Because Monday is Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day. You don’t get the day off work, but it’s an excuse to celebrate the fun side of a material that not only protects, but also entertains.
In 1960, inventors Marc Chavannes and Al Fielding originally developed a plastic they hoped to market as textured wallpaper. When that idea did not take off, the inventors began to have some success selling it as a greenhouse insulator.
According to legend, it wasn’t until Chavannes was on an airplane over Newark Airport that the “eureka” moment happened. As the plane descended, Chavannes noted that the billowy clouds appeared to be cushioning the plane. It was at that moment he realized Bubble Wrap could be used as an improvement over paper and old newspapers for cushioning fragile items.
For whatever reason, folks of all ages seem to have a need to squeeze the bubbles.
“People come in here all of the time with their kids, who want to pop,” Gina Bigelow, owner of Postal Plus in Green, said with a laugh. “We give them little pieces to pop or they would pop a whole roll. And the parents are just as bad.”
Bigelow used to have a 250-foot roll of the stuff sitting by the store’s door. Customers would linger to talk before exiting and subconsciously reach over and pinch the wrap.
“Excuse me, but you are popping my bubbles,” Bigelow said she used to tell her customers.
Since then the whopper-sized roll has been relocated.
Alan Manley Sr. is marketing director and team building coordinator for Universal Nursing Services, based in Akron. As part of his job, he’s always looking for ways to bring people together.
“Maybe we could use it [Bubble Wrap] as a call to action to begin a session,” he said, laughing. “We could have a two-minute, simultaneous bubble pop from the whole group to build unity.”
But why do we get so much pleasure out of popping?
“There is a sensation … from popping Bubble Wrap that is soothing and satisfying. Put those two together and I think it’s about relieving stress,” he said.
“When opening a package … I can’t wait to grab that stuff and just start squeezing and popping. Because of the sound of the pop, pop, pop and the way that it feels — it’s addicting.”
It’s so pop-ular that manufacturer Sealed Air makes enough Bubble Wrap each year to stretch from the earth to the moon and back.
Now that’s a lot of popping.
Kim Hone-McMahan can be reached at 330-996-3742 or email@example.com.