Bubble wrap appears to occupy an unique space within our world. Not only is it a wholly functional, practical product – it’s additionally fun, aesthetically pleasing, and even something that helps keep our stress levels low. That’s impressive for something which started life as wallpaper!
The original product was created by two engineers, who sealed two shower drapes together, trapping little air bubbles between the separate layers of material. The original plan was to market this curious creation as wallpaper but, even in the 1960s, this idea failed to inspire buyers. The bubble had almost burst before it began.
However, subsequent incarnations of the dimpled sheets started to be used as protective packaging. The first company to use it in this manner was IBM, who wrapped their latest computer models within the material. From then on, the distinctive product really started to take off as a huge selection of companies began using it.
It’s hard now to imagine receiving a delivery of anything fragile without the use of bubble wrap. The bubbles act as soft cushions, and take the force associated with any impact, keeping delicate surfaces safe and ensuring products get to the right condition.
It also has the advantage of being very light, so goods can be protected without adding a great deal of weight to the consignment.
Although it began its existence protecting computers, the product has really found a distinct segment in the food industry. It’s used to wrap delicate fruits, vegetables and other produce, to keep them in perfect condition, and stop them from getting bruised about the long journey from the areas and farms into our houses, shops and restaurants.
Nowadays it’s possible to get hold of this distinctive packing material almost everywhere. You can buy it through the sheet, or as giant rolls, and it’s invaluable for some of the people big moments in life.
Wrapping gifts at Christmas, for example, is much easier – and it is certainly reassuring to have plenty of wrap on standby, if you’re moving house, and want to keep the best china in one piece.
However, there’s more to bubble wrap than just the packaging side. It’s used by artists to produce new works, and indeed, the original company who created it sometimes runs a competition encouraging young artists and inventors to come up with new, innovative products based around the actual sheets of snapping bubbles.
But for many of all of us, the most effective use of the bubbled stuff is one that it was certainly never intended. We simply love the sound and sensation of popping individuals bubbles – it acts as stress relief, letting us vent any frustrations with the world to a crackling, satisfying soundtrack.
There can be very few individuals who can resist popping a few bubbles when faced with a sheet. Since it was first created in 1960, the humble sheet of bubble wrap went on to protect, wrap and preserve countless precious items – be it an antique vase or a fresh batch of strawberries. But better than that, it’s also helped make the planet a slightly calmer, less stressful place – simply through the act of popping those little bubbles.
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