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Packing Peanuts
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The History of Packing Peanuts

Packing peanuts were invented in 1965 by Dow Chemical.

What are Packing Peanuts and How are they Made?

There are two types of packing peanuts, those made from foam, and those made from starches like corn or grain sorghum. Polystyrene-based packed peanuts were invented in 1965 and have been used ever since. Polystyrene stuffing peanuts can be used over and over again and can be recycled at shipping stores around the world.

Robert E. Holden

The invention of packing peanuts is often attributed to Robert E. Holden; however, very little is known about the inventor. To facilitate the creation of the styrofoam peanuts, Holden also invented an apparatus that would help to cut and expand plastic members through a steaming process. By feeding plastic strips through the device, it would create the foamy cellular structure that is the trademark of the classic styrofoam peanuts. It also allowed the plastic to be created in such a way that they would interlock, providing a more secure shipping solution. Source: wikipedia.org

Ever since the early 1990s, corn starch has been increasingly used to form packing peanuts. These are more environmentally-friendly as they can be dissolved in water. They are also non-toxic to humans and pets if accidentally ingested. The main drawback to these wadding peanuts though is that they are about twice as heavy, not as resilient, and cost a bit more.

Here’s a video showing how polystyrene is made:

 

Why Do We Need Packing Peanuts

 

History Of Packing Peanuts

Packing peanuts are a cheap, light, and increasingly environmentally-friendly way to protect fragile shipments.

Fun Packing Peanut Facts and Ideas

It’s amazing to think that packaging peanuts were only invented 55 years ago when humans have been around for millions of years. Just look at some of the complex items that were invented before something as simple as a foam peanut.

 

Why Are Styrofoam Peanuts a Certain Color?

  • Green Packing Peanuts = 70% or more recycled polystyrene
  • White Packing Peanuts = 70% or more non-recycled polystyrene
  • Pink Packing Peanuts = anti-static has been applied

Random Items Invented Before The Wonderful Styrofoam Peanut

  • Piano (1709)
  • Steamboat (1786)
  • Lie detector (1921)
  • 3-D movies (1922)
  • Jet engine (1937)
  • Microwave oven (1945)
  • Credit cards (1950)
  • Super glue (1951)
  • The first computer video game (Spacewar – 1962)

Random Items Invented Within a Year of Stuffing Peanuts

  • BASIC (computer language)
  • Astroturf
  • Kevlar
  • Acrylic paint
  • Soft contact lenses
  • Compact Disk

Packing Peanut Science Experiments

Cats Playing in Packing Peanuts

Ferrets Playing in Peanuts

Stuffing Peanut Crafts

The History of Material Handling

Learn more about the history of material handling with these guides:

How Steel Shipping Drums are Made

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