What began as a humble attempt to keep tablecloths clean in France snowballed into the production in America of one of the most popular packaging materials of the twentieth century. What started out as a simple sheet of film that kept water, dirt, and bugs away from groceries transformed into many varieties of cellophane used throughout many industries. Cellophane producers and marketers gave manufacturers and ordinary shoppers what they wanted, and they built identities around their product and around the people who used it. These identities took root in American consumer culture, and cellophane came to embody American values, national pride, and modernity through scientific progress. Although cellophane today has tremendous competition in the way of plastics, such as Saran wrap and polyethylene films, it will always be remembered as one of America’s most iconic disposable materials.
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