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Bubble Wrap Celebrates 50th Birthday

January 25, 2010

Bubble Wrap® Cushioning Turns to Shades of Gold to Celebrate Golden Anniversary

Bubble Wrap® cushioning, the iconic brand best known for protecting products and providing fun and stress release to millions of people each day, turns 50 today, on the day that also marks the 10th Annual Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day. The story began in a building about the size of a small garage in Hawthorne, N.J. and continues today with one of the world’s most recognized brands celebrating a historic milestone. 

To celebrate the golden anniversary, Sealed Air, makers of Bubble Wrap® brand will conduct a special limited run of gold Bubble Wrap® cushioning.  For one day, the factory lines in the company’s Saddle River, N.J. facility will change from the popular clear to gold to commemorate the historic occasion. 

“We are thrilled to have the golden opportunity to celebrate 50 years of our hallmark brand, Bubble Wrap,” said William V. Hickey, President and Chief Executive Officer, Sealed Air.  “We are honored to manufacture a product that not only serves to cushion fragile materials, but also provides the added benefit of helping to de-stress and bring smiles to the faces of people of all ages worldwide.”

Despite the attempts of imitators, there is only one Bubble Wrap brand which has transcended its intended use of protecting valuables to become a “pop” culture phenomenon. Bubble Wrap® cushioning is most recognized for the satisfying release and gleeful joy that comes with the popping of each plastic cell. In addition, Bubble Wrap® cushioning has been used as a medium for creating works of art, as a fashion statement and as a central prop piece to movies and commercials. 

The invention of Bubble Wrap® cushioning led to the founding of Sealed Air, a Fortune 500 Company that owns the registered trademark, in 1960.  Today, Sealed Air operates in 52 countries and each year the company makes enough Bubble Wrap® to stretch to the moon and back.

Bubble Wrap® Beginnings ““ If At First You Don’t Succeed…

The originally intended use for Bubble Wrap® cushioning was entirely different than how it is used today.

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 marketing the product as a greenhouse insulator.

Legend goes that it was not 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 that Bubble Wrap® cushioning could be used as an improvement from paper and old newspapers for cushioning fragile items.

Once the opportunity was identified, the inventors worked hard on the manufacturing process for Bubble Wrap® cushioning in an effort to create an ideal packaging material.  After a lot of tinkering, they developed a special, proprietary barrier protection which prevented air from leaking and resulted in the crisp “Pop” that Bubble Wrap® cushioning is famous for.

“Inventors Marc Chavannes and Al Fielding could never have guessed that their clever concept for a new packaging material would draw the world to that irresistible ‘Pop!’” said Rohn E. Shellenberger, Business Manager, Bubble Wrap® cushioning.  “We’re sure they would both be proud to know what a global icon their invention has become.”

The brand that began as a failed idea for wallpaper is a pop-culture phenomenon.  Bubble Wrap® cushioning has more than two million fans on Facebook and has inspired users to come up with hundreds of different uses.  Beyond its “pop” appeal, Bubble Wrap® cushioning has also helped spur the growth of parent company Sealed Air, which today operates in 52 countries and has annual revenue in excess of $4 billion. 

About Sealed Air

For fifty years, Sealed Air has been a leading global innovator and manufacturer of a wide range of packaging and performance-based materials and equipment systems that now serve an array of food, industrial, medical, and consumer applications.  Operating in 52 countries, Sealed Air’s international reach generated revenue of $4.2 billion in 2009.  With widely recognized brands such as Bubble Wrap® brand cushioning, Jiffy® protective mailers, Instapak® foam-in-place systems and Cryovac® packaging technology, Sealed Air continues to identify new trends, foster new markets, and deliver innovative solutions to its customers. 

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