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In the pecking order of packing materials, Bubble Wrap falls somewhere in the middle—above polystyrene peanuts, with their mess of static cling, but below environmentally friendly options like cornstarch packaging. But Bubble Wrap still reigns supreme when it comes to one thing: the delight factor that comes with finding it wrapped around shipped valuables, its air bubbles waiting to be popped.

Bubble Wrap wasn’t originally intended for packaging. In 1957, New Jersey–based engineers Alfred W. Fielding and Marc Chavannes threw something at the wall—literally—and it didn’t quite stick. After sealing a set of shower curtains, they grew excited by the ensuing air bubble–filled sheets of plastic and decided to market them as of-the-moment interior decor—meaning Bubble Wrap began as wallpaper. When that venture failed, they switched to pawning it off as greenhouse insulation—which turned out to be another misstep. They


This story is from Kinfolk Issue Thirty-One

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