History of Packing Peanuts

- November 15, 2018

Need to Ship Furniture Across the Country?

Or have you received a box of valuables?  Well chances are you know a thing or two about packing peanuts!

From the most basic household items and toys to almost every electronic you use, Styrofoam Packing Peanuts can be found in every corner. If you’re planning to shift places, packing peanuts will keep all your fragile items absolutely secure in the moving boxes for as long as you don’t unwind them.

Apart from shipping, packing peanuts can also be used to bulk up bean bags, cold and hot pads, and in everyday crafts around your house.

They may look tiny and easily replaceable, but their importance in the house is unmatched. Here are 6 facts you should know about these handy household essential.

The Original Noodles   

Packing peanuts were founded by Dow Chemical in 1965. Initially, they were produced using pure polystyrene resin, however, later in the 1990s, a more eco-friendly version was made for packaging purposes.

Just like every smart invention, this one too started with unusual experiments. A smart guy named Maurice Laverna Zweigle, decided to place a raw egg in a cardboard box and filled it with polystyrene noodles. He then flipped the box close and flung it down from the third floor. To his astonishment, the egg remained unharmed in the box. His invention worked! At first he decided to call the polyester “spaghetti”.

It was a remarkable discovery. For one, the thin slender shape of the noodles and their tendency to tangle was the main reason why the egg was unscathed. They formed a strong cushion-like nest to keep it safe and sound.

With the onset of this amazing invention, Dow Chemical then began selling these packing foams commercially. Their first exhibition was at the New York Coliseum in 1961 where they sold around 200 pounds of this goody.

The foam was meant to be a replacement for wood ribbons, popcorn, sawdust, and shredded paper – all of which was prone to break and damage the items in a box.

However, the shapes of the noodles were difficult to reproduce. Upon which Maurice, the smart guy, decided to cut down the shape and carved them into what now resembles small peanuts. If you were to look at the polystyrene under a microscope, you could see it’s actually just air they’re selling.  

The Modern Packing Peanuts

The modern packing peanuts are quite lightweight, and less likely to trap moisture and infestations. They are made in thin and small shapes resembling peanuts from biodegradable materials like crinkled cardboard, bio-plastic nuggets, molded pulp, and even pillow packs filled with air.

These eco-friendly little things naturally break down into safe amounts of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen once you dispose them off. Biodegradable packing peanuts also don’t have a static charge so they’re infinitely safer than polystyrene contributing to environmental degradation.

These foam peanuts are now readily available in almost every utility store and widely used as a green packing solution.

Packing peanuts are the most useful and practical essential.  Do yourself a favor and keep a pack in your drawer; you’ll never know when they’ll come in handy!

If you’re a packing material history buff - check out where bubble wrap came from!