Why is bubble wrap so good?

By Ingrid Fetell Lee


Every now and then I have a look to see what search terms are bringing new visitors to the site. It’s always interesting to see how people find the site and what topics readers are most curious about. My favorite among the search queries of the past month is “Why is bubble wrap so good?” bringing people to this earlier post I wrote exploring the subject.

It delights me that there are others out there who wonder why bubble wrap (or rainbows or cupcakes or fireworks) bring us joy. These questions may seem unimportant in the face of all we are confronting at the moment, but they speak to profound curiosities about our human nature and our world, curiosities that are no less important for being about what creates pleasure than about what helps avoid pain.

Re-reading the earlier post, I think my answer is still the same, but I’d add two things. First, bubble wrap has a certain amount of magic to it because it contains air in a permanent way, in contrast to all the bubbles of natural world. Bubble in water float to the surface, bubbles in air pop, bubbles trapped in ice eventually melt. So bubble wrap makes the elusive air bubble tangible in a way that seems mundane but is actually quite magical.

The other thing I would say is that it also has something to do with sensory immersion. Bubble wrap has a unique tactile sensation, and it’s also an aural experience. This richness contrasts with many materials which have expected textures and that don’t “speak” to us. Bubble wrap could be an even richer sensory experience, and in fact there’s at least one person out there who intends to make it so. Check out this genius patent I found for scented bubble wrap. It’s like the love child of bubble wrap and the scratch ‘n sniff sticker.

And finally, here’s a fun bubble wrap fact: did you know that it was an accidental innovation? The inventors were actually trying to create a new kind of easy-to-clean wallpaper! Thankfully, the experiment went awry and the world’s most joyful packing material was born.

Image: Feeline
Original post

September 30th, 2009


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    Discussion (1 Comment)

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