Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way


Picture of chemists Hal Charch (left), Russell Clark, and Jim Mitchell, ca. 1950 (Series VII, Box 6, Folder 26 ‘Clinton, Iowa Plant’, DuPont Company Product Information photographs (Accession 1972.341), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807).

Shrewd business decisions and the skill of DuPont researchers quickly eliminated these obstacles preventing cellophane’s wider use. Hal Charch, a lead scientist in DuPont’s cellophane division shown above, devised an exterior coating for cellophane sheets in 1927. This coating not only made them waterproof, but it also prevented the escape of moisture from foods.[1] The new moisture-proof seal on the material opened the door to widespread use in places where it previously failed to gain a strong foothold, especially perishable foods like bread and produce.[2] It also allowed DuPont to change the focus of their marketing strategy from visibility and protection of goods to the preservation of freshness. In order to convince smaller businesses and manufacturers to give cellophane packaging a chance, DuPont also chose to reduce the price of cellophane, cutting it nearly a third by 1927.[3] By 1940, DuPont reduced the price of cellophane twenty times, relying on increased sales volume to make up the difference in revenue.[4] DuPont believed in the potential of their moisture-proof product to reach nearly every consumer market and become the hottest packaging material around. By cutting short-term profits in order to reduce the cost of cellophane, DuPont allowed cellophane wrappers to spread like wildfire across the American marketplace.


Advertisement for DuPont’s new moisture-proof cellophane, 1928 (DuPont Magazine, Published Collections Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807).

III. Businesses See the Potential⇒

[1] Image of Hal Charch, DuPont Product Information photographs, 1950: http://digital.hagley.org/1972341_1654?solr_nav%5Bid%5D=83bc1b8f66775b95ec3e&solr_nav%5Bpage%5D=0&solr_nav%5Boffset%5D=6

[2] DuPont Magazine, v. 22, no. 6, pg. 14, 1928: http://digital.hagley.org/1928_22_06?solr_nav%5Bid%5D=1201ff9a8030e9f91760&solr_nav%5Bpage%5D=1&solr_nav%5Boffset%5D=24#page/16/mode/1up/search/cellophane;

[3] Just About All About Cellophane, 76.

[4] Nation’s Business, October 1940, pg. 20