The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Sealed Air will introduce iBubble, a version of Bubble Wrap that will not pop under pressure.
In the early 1960s, when my father was a salesman for Ethyl Visqueen Corporation, Sealed Air was one of his customers (along with Orchids of Hawaii, the makers of plastic leis). Whenever he returned from a sales call to Sealed Air's New Jersey factory, he brought home samples of Bubble Wrap that I could take to school and distribute like contraband to my classmates. Whatever brief periods of grade-school POPularity I experienced I owe to Bubble Wrap.
The samples were packaged like pages in a loose-leaf notebook and smelled like gasoline. Once, the company experimented with Bubble Wrap in primary colors that it hoped to introduce as gift wrap; another time Sealed Air came up with sheets comprising large “bubbles” roughly one-inch in diameter. These were more difficult to pop and were more likely to deflate than to burst, which may not have hurt its value for packaging but was disappointing from the point of view of children wanting to disrupt the classroom with a chorus of fart noises.
My suburban childhood home was partially furnished by Bubble Wrap. When we discovered my mother’s allergy to feathers, we removed the offending filling from our living-room furniture and replaced it with wads of Bubble Wrap. Drafty windows? Bubble Wrap.
One day my father arrived home with two extra-large rolls of the stuff. These my mother turned on their sides and disguised with slip-covers fashioned from yellow fake fur, for lightweight portable seating.