A dispenser of cellophane tape
Image credit: By Dnor [Public domain], <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tejph%C3%A5llare.jpg">from Wikimedia Commons</a>

A regular sequence of thoughts here in the editorial department of the Interesting Thing of the Day Galactic Headquarters:

  1. Let’s see what special faux holiday I need to write about next.
  2. Oh no. It’s another stupid one. I cannot possibly bring myself to write even three sentences about such nonsense.
  3. Sigh. I should do a few quick web searches, just in case.
  4. (I fall into a rabbit hole, only to emerge, slightly dazed, hours later.)
  5. This stupid thing is actually interesting enough to write a book about!

So yeah, today is National Cellophane Tape Day and I have, entirely against my will, learned a bunch of fascinating things about cellophane tape! Here are a few of them:

  • Cellophane tape is, as the name suggests, tape made of cellophane. Cellophane is not a synthetic plastic, but rather a bioplastic—it’s a thin sheet of cellulose, which in turn is made from wood pulp, cotton, or other natural fibers.
  • The original and best-known brand of cellophane tape is Scotch tape. However, the first tape made under the Scotch brand was not in fact cellophane tape but rather what we typically call masking tape today. Cellophane tape came several years later.
  • Both masking tape and cellophane tape were invented by a 3M employee named Richard Drew. The first commercially viable cellophane tape was produced in 1930. The cellophane part was easy; developing just the right adhesive was the tricky part.
  • Sellotape, which is to British consumers what Scotch tape is to American consumers, is not in fact made of cellophane, despite the name. It’s made of a type of plastic called polypropylene.

You can read an excellent history of Scotch Transparent Tape and its predecessors on the American Chemical Society’s website.