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Random Thoughts

Bubble Rap

Hudson Cooper
Posted 4/29/22

The pandemic causes stress, depression and anxiety for many of us. Being confined to your home brought brain numbing isolation. I miss watching a movie on a theater screen surrounded by strangers. I …

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Random Thoughts

Bubble Rap


The pandemic causes stress, depression and anxiety for many of us. Being confined to your home brought brain numbing isolation. I miss watching a movie on a theater screen surrounded by strangers. I yearned to sit in the dark with my jumbo popcorn, half gallon of Mountain Dew and a noisy box of Milk Duds. Now I watch movies on my iPhone occasionally interrupted by a call from a telemarketer trying to sell me on his “unbelievable lifetime deal of the Acme gutter system.”

Almost everything we did in the past was either avoided or altered. Being surrounded by people was not recommended. Going out in public required a mask and hand sanitizer. Watching televised news and the reports of the pandemic numbers only made it worse. No gym. No restaurants. No mass transit. No getting together with friends. The isolation we all felt often brought about depression.

About 2 months into the pandemic, the solution for my stress and depression arrived at my doorstep. As a writer, I heavily rely on my printer. But since almost everyone was working from home, finding a printer to purchase was nearly impossible. After hours of searching online, with intermittent glances on my Facebook account to see what my friends ate for dinner, I found an adequate printer from a big box store and placed the order.

I knew the date it was scheduled to be delivered and waited anxiously for my printer. Occasionally I poked my head out the door to look for the delivery truck. I began to feel like a young Ronnie Howard in “The Music Man” as I sang “Oh the Wells Fargo wagon is a coming down the street, oh please let it be for me.”

That afternoon I opened my door and saw a big box from the big box store. After dragging it in, I ripped open the box and removed yards and yards of the protective Bubble Wrap. Lifting the printer out of the box, I accidentally tripped on the Bubble Wrap making a popping noise. Just for fun, I stomped on some of the Bubble Wrap again. By tripping on it, I had stumbled upon a way to distract myself from the pandemic and nullify my depression. I rolled up all the Bubble Wrap and put it and the printer in my office.

Accidentally popping some of the Bubble Wrap that came with the printer led to my fascination with the calming sensation it caused. Like the microwave, post-it notes and corn flakes, Bubble Wrap was a result of an accident. In 1957, Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes were trying to invent 3-dimensional wallpaper. During one of their experiments, they sealed two shower curtains together. Trapped between the curtains were pockets of air in many shapes and sizes. Their 3-dimensional wallpaper was ultimately a failure. But the product that they stumbled upon soon revolutionized the packing industry.

Their creation, originally called “Air Cap,” was eventually trademark protected as Bubble Wrap. It was manufactured by the Sealed Air Corporation who, in 1960, wisely began calling it “Bubble Wrap.” One of the first commercial uses for Bubble Wrap was as insulation in outdoor greenhouses. The air pockets kept the heat inside while allowing sunlight to shine on the plants and vegetables.

Bubble Wrap can thank IBM for making the product mainstream. Fred Bowers, a marketing director at the Sealed Air Corporation learned that IBM was getting ready to ship refrigerator-size decimal computers. Since those computers were delicate and expensive, Bowers convinced IBM to use Bubble Wrap instead of the previous option of crumpled newspapers and sawdust.

For some reason, many companies often try to describe their yearly output in terms related to the Earth and the moon. The Sealed Air Corporation has calculated that every year enough Bubble Wrap is manufactured to get to the moon and back. They also surmised that it could wrap around the equator ten times.

Bubble Wrap has many uses besides packaging. It can prevent hypothermia, insulate windows and be used as a medium for artists. But for myself, I use it to relieve stress. I take a small sheet off the roll and slowly press each bubble as I hear it pop. Studies have shown that bursting those bubbles for a minute has the calming benefits of a 30-minute massage.

I have found that popping the air bubbles brings me a sense of calm. So, with a tip of my cap to Alka-Seltzer, “pop, pop gee whiz, Oh, what a relief it is.”


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