Invention of Ziploc Bags
This is an interesting article from Wikipedia regarding the invention of Ziploc Bags.
” In 1951, a company called Flexigrip, Inc. was formed to develop and market a plastic zipper, by the same name, based on a set of patents, which it had purchased, of which the inventor was Borge Madsen. The initial products for the Flexigrip and other plastic zippers (such as the sliderless zippers (toptite) that were developed by Flexigrip) were looseleaf binder inserts and flat briefcases. Thereafter, the marketing efforts were directed at packaging products in plastic zipper bags, which turned out to be the principal market for the Flexigrip, Inc. products. In 1961, Flexigrip, Inc. obtained from a Japanese company, Seisan Nippon Sha, who invented the Minigrip-type plastic zipper bag, exclusive manufacturing and selling rights for the United States, based on a series of plastic zipper Seisan patents. A company by the same name was formed to produce and market Minigrip bags. In or about 1964, Minigrip, Inc. negotiated an exclusive license for the grocery trade (supermarkets) with Dow Chemical Company for the Minigrip product. It turned out to be enormously successful.
At that time, plastic bags were being produced in 25 countries at a line speed of 30 feet per minute, but none were being sold to consumers because they were too expensive to produce. Dow assigned one of their inventors, R. Douglas Behr, to develop a high-speed, efficient process. Having little prior experience in plastics, the task was daunting for Behr but he passed everyone in the world within a year. As he improved the process and increased line speeds to 60, then 90, then 150 and finally 300 feet per minute in 1972, he had to design new equipment. Some was patented and some was kept as trade secrets by Dow. Eventually, other research and production personnel contributed to the process development, but Behr continued to be the leading researcher until he retired in 1993 as a senior Associate Scientist. At that time the research building was “Dedicated in Recognition of the Distinguished Career of R. Douglas Behr”.
In 1978, Minigrip was acquired by Signode, Inc. and became a subsidiary of that company. In 1986, Signode and Dow formed a company, namely Zippak, to develop zipper bags for food products. In 1987, ITW acquired Signode, and Minigrip became a subsidiary of ITW. In 1991, ITW acquired Dow’s interest in Zippak so that Zippak became a fully owned subsidiary of ITW. Zippak produces plastic zippers for the food packaging market. Among Ziploc and Zippak’s competitors are Presto, a subsidiary of Reynolds, and Pactiv. From the time of inception till today, Flexigrip/Minigrip/Zippak/Dow/Dow Brands have obtained over 300 patents for plastic zippers, zipper bags, and methods and machinery of producing the same. In 1995, Hefty came out with a sliding zipper bag. In 1997 Dow Chemical sold the rights of DowBrands, which included Ziploc, to S. C. Johnson for between $1.3 and $1.7 billion. Zip-Pak developed Polypropylene compatible zippers in 2003.
Ziploc has expanded their products to more than just sandwich bags. Ziploc products now vary from freezer bags to twist n’ loc containers. They have expandable bottom bags which stand on their own. They also have big bags. These bags are used for non-food storage and are as big as 2 ft by 2.7 ft (0.61 m × 0.82 m). The zip n’ steam bags are used to cook food in the microwave. The flexible totes made by Ziploc are used for non-food storage and are as big as 22 US gallons (83 l). Recently, Ziploc has made an evolved line of sandwich and storage bags. All the bags in this line are made with 25% less plastic and are manufactured using wind power. The Ziploc Evolve sandwich was so successful that it was deemed the “Best in Show” at the 2010 Best New Product Awards in Canada.
The manufacturing of Ziploc bags varies among different products. The Ziploc Evolve bag is made using 35% less plastic than traditional Ziploc bags, and is manufactured using wind power, a cleaner renewable energy source. The Ziploc Evolve bag is also packaged in recycled paperboard, a technique used to increase the conservation of trees. The regulation Ziploc storage and freezer bag is made from polypropylene plastic resin.
Ziploc faces strong competition from such competitors as Glad, Hefty, and many privately owned, generic, store brand plastic bags and containers. As Jules Rose, chairman of Sloan’s Supermarkets Inc. in New York City, states: “This is a highly competitive market with a lot of players and unusually strong private label sales.” Ziploc’s biggest competitor by far is Glad. In 1992, Ziploc was faced with sudden competition from the booming sales of arch-rival First Brands Corporation’s Glad-Lock bag. Glad Lock bags jumped 13.1% in 12 weeks in the end of 1992, giving Glad-Lock an 18.4% share of the market compared to Ziploc’s 43% share.”