Sentences about cellophane

Cellophane gets an entire chapter in Hisano’s book. As she explains in the paper, cellophane packaging let food vendors manipulate the appearance of foods by controlling the amount of moisture and oxygen that touched a product, thus preventing discoloration. “Cellophane played a big part in how the color of food started to be controlled and standardized,” she says.

…Cellophane, the world’s first transparent packaging film, was invented in 1908 by the Swiss engineer Jacques Brandenberger. He dubbed it “cellophane” as a combination of the words “cellulose” (of which it was made) and “diaphane” (an archaic form of the word “diaphanous,” which is a fancy word for “transparent”). He assigned his patents to La Cellophane Societe Anonyme, a French company formed for the sole purpose of marketing the invention. In 1923, the company licensed to DuPont the exclusive rights to make and sell cellophane in the United States.

…Initial versions of cellophane were waterproof, but not moisture-proof. So, while it was effective for wrapping products like candy and cigarettes, it wasn’t effective for packaging fresh food. In 1927, DuPont developed moisture-proof cellophane, food manufacturers started using it to package items like cakes and cheeses, and cellophane sales tripled between 1928 and 1930.

Here is the full story, interesting throughout, via the estimable Chug.


Cellophane also keeps food fresher...fact.

Pity the inventor: "was invented in 1908 by the Swiss engineer Jacques Brandenberger... In 1923, the company licensed to DuPont the exclusive rights". Do the math: back then, patents lasted 17 years from the patent issue date. Assuming, as is normal, about 3 years after the invention was filed it was issued, then: 1923-1911 = 12 years, meaning the patent only had five more years before expiring. Not enough time for a pioneer invention like this. Disney gets 50+ years (and more, as AlexT has pointed out) for Mickey Mouse, etc, but only five years for cellophane? Same for blockbuster drugs: by the time they are FDA approved, only a few years are left on the patent term. Sure, you can lobby to get extensions but it's a hassle. We need better patent laws.

Bonus trivia: the patent for the BIC-style ballpoint pen was bought by BIC corporation from Waterman and made money for them, lots of technology in a ballpoint pen that you don't realize. But for the patent nobody would have invested. Look at penicillin. Since Flemming had no patent, nobody invested, and in the end the government had to take over R&D to produce it in mass quantities (government R&D is a form of 'patent', as a state operated entity, think about it) Do you really think, like AlexT and TC think, that 'first to market' is the only incentive manufacturers should have? Or society's praise is sufficient incentive as TC has said about inventors? Sad!

Pithy property requires society's praise. A lamenting varnish Ray Charles weaves, and brisk it is not.

Why do some people call it "tinfoil" when it's made out of aluminum? Back in the 1930's, foil was indeed made out of tin. It wasn't until Reynolds invented the process for making cheap aluminum foil that the original tinfoil was put out of business.

Why is it shiny on one side and dull on the other? To drag the foil through the final step of rolling, one of the rollers is a bit dull to give it more traction. However, there is foil which is shiny on both sides.

How come some foil is labelled kosher? Lard and beef fat are sometimes used as roll lubricants in the rolling process. Kosher foil uses other lubricants.

Now that's interesting! (I like hearing the details).

Another detail you might find interesting is what happened to the aluminized paper used to line cigarette packs, which disappeared during WW2. The entire production capacity was taken by the U.S. government. It was cut into strips the length of the resonant frequency of German radar and dropped during bombing raids to spoof the radar with spurious radar echoes, a product called "chaff".

Yes indeed!

Always count on MT to separate the sweet tweet from the chaff.

Outstanding posts MT

Yes, but a bigger use of aluminum was to build airplanes such as the B-17.

OTOH if you mean that the US Army Air Corps (although the RAF was probably a bigger customer because the Germans needed radar to find the RAF bombers, who flew at night) was literally taking cigarette wrapping paper, unaltered except for being cut into strips, and using it as chaff, then that is interesting, a true plowshares-into-swords story. The wikipedia article about chaff however suggests that these were custom-made aluminum/paper strips.

I cite as my source Electronic Warfare, volume 1, published by the Association for Old Crows. If I dug out my copy, I could tell you the page number. It has a photo of one of the prototype machines for making chaff. As I recall, it was an invention of the famous MIT professor Harold Edgerton.
Another explanation for the dull side.
=== ===
There are two, distinct sides to standard aluminum foil – the shiny side and the dull side. During the last phase of the rolling process, two sheets of foil are put through the rollers. The rollers themselves are oiled and, therefore, the side of the foil that touches the roller comes out shinier than the other.
=== ===

I don't suppose they have an explanation of why you'd send two sheets through the rollers instead of one. You'd have to deal with the problem of separating the sheets afterward.

"Supposin' you met an elephant?"

"I'd wrap him up in cellophant!"

What makes the Hottentots so hot?

Ah, yes, cellophane, to disguise the reality of what's underneath. Yesterday, Cowen predicted everyone would eventually end up in marketing products and services, not actually making or providing them (robots do it better!). Of course, marketing is an exercise in deception, in which a product or service is packaged in a way to make it appear appealing - even nasty cigarettes were once packaged as part of an active lifestyle for the upscale. People will believe most anything if sold in the right package. Even a con man can be packaged so as to appeal to enough voters to get elected president. When everyone is in the business of deception (marketing), will objective truth exist? A few cynics says we already are in a post-truth era. Wrap everything in cellophane to disguise the reality underneath. Do Mooch's expensive suits disguise the reality of what's underneath?

"Ah, yes, cellophane, to disguise the reality of what’s underneath. "

Before cellophane, food was wrapped in paper and you couldn't see inside at all. So, the reality is closer to the opposite of your statement. Cellophane allowed the consumer to see the product they were buying.

In Europe (and presumably here, though it is less common) you can buy a kind of cellophane that you can cook your roast or chicken inside, in the oven. Keeps it moist.

Yes I've used that product. But some food fetish people think plastic causes cancer (as they also think microwaves do) and won't let me use plastics during cooking in my household. Or aluminum foil (they think it causes Alzheimer's, based on an early and since refuted study).

Who's stopping you from cooking however you want in your own household?

@msgkings "some food fetish people" apparently.

How did they get so much power over poor Ray?

Ray removed the tin foil hat for a moment and they pounced

"Initial versions of cellophane were waterproof, but not moisture-proof"

What's the difference?

I expect non-water proof means that water can seep through (perhaps slowly) but a material might still prevent seepage but allow water vapour through. Thus over time humidity on both sides will equalise. So if you had a cellophane bag of initially dry air, and you kept it under water, then you would eventually get a bag of air at 100% humidity, with perhaps some condensation.

“Initial versions of cellophane were waterproof, but not moisture-proof”

...incorrect terminology -- but they should be synonyms

Original cellophane was NOT waterproof -- it was "water-resistant" in modern terms.

Dupont scientist William Charch improved cellophane formula in 1927 to make it truly waterproof... and of course moisture proof

Very interesting. But "diaphanous" has a quite different meaning than "transparent". More translucent or better yet "see-through" as in clothing.

This is a small point, I'm just annoyed when these things are stated in terms of "just a fancy version" and it turns out to be wrong.

Oh, and "diaphanous" is a really great word with a distinct "sense". I always think 19th century/early 20th and young girls.

Then there is the fact that a Swiss engineer is not likely to have been using English - and 'diaphane' seems to be fairly normal French.

What is the cross price elasticity of cellophane with other flexible packaging materials in 1950. What is the DuPont fallacy?

If you know the answer to either of these questions you pass the antitrust test.

Answer: DuPont once had a monopoly of cellophane, but argued that the cross price elasticity with other flexible packaging materials showed that it did not. However, a firm with a monopoly will price just at the point where there would be substitution.

Here's a little more from Wiki:

"This reasoning was challenged by a 1955 article in the American Economic Review. In research on the du Pont company arising from his PhD dissertation, Willard F. Mueller and co-author George W. Stocking, Sr. pointed out the error of mistaking a monopolist's inability to exercise market power by raising price above the current price for an inability to have already exercised market power by raising price significantly above the competitive price. Courts that use a monopolized product's elevated market price will typically misconstrue a completed anti-competitive act as a lack of market power. Had the Supreme Court considered the substitutability of other wrappings at cellophane's competitive price, the sales of other wrappings would have been much lower; du Pont might very well have been found guilty of monopolizing the market for flexible wrappings.

As Richard Posner wrote, "Reasonable interchangeability at the current price but not at a competitive price level, far from demonstrating the absence of monopoly power, might well be a symptom of that power; this elementary point was completely overlooked by the court" [3]

This intimidating atmosphere often produced dramatic but questionable revelations about Communists infiltrating American institutions and subversive actions by well-known citizens. HUAC’s controversial tactics contributed to the fear, distrust and repression that existed during the anticommunist hysteria of the 1950s. By the late 1950s and early 1960s, HUAC’s influence was in decline, and in 1969 it was renamed the Committee on Internal Security. Although it ceased issuing subpoenas that year, its operations continued until 1975.

That may be true but it is irrelevant to the post.

cellophane is definitely underrated.

It's only because clear film is common and cheap that we don't think of it as high tech. But in law school we learned about the clear, flexible film patent wars that raged for two decades 60-80 years ago.

How come we have "teflon" presidents but no "cellophane" presidents?

It would require transparency.

We have Mr. Cellophane

Why all this talk about cellophane, why not talk about celluloid?

Diaphane is of course perfect french,as used by a french-speaking Swiss, as others have pointed out. Why is it that Americans always think the world is about them and their language?

It usually is.

Cole Porter had something to say on the subject:

You're the top!
You're Mahatma Gandhi.
You're the top!
You're Napoleon Brandy.
You're the purple light
Of a summer night in Spain,
You're the National Gallery
You're Garbo's salary,
You're cellophane.

Sorry the formatting is wrong.

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