The Neatest Little Paper Ever Read ®

Issue 974

RUBBER BANDS

• It annoyed William Spencer that every morning when he went to pick up the newspaper from his front porch, he’d find it had blown all over his yard in Alliance, Ohio. The windier it was, the farther the newspaper would fly. It was 1923 and Spencer decided something should be done.

• Spencer knew that the shipyard of the Goodyear Rubber Company in Akron had heaps of discarded inner tubes lying around. He brought home a bunch of those inner tubes, and cut them into strips. The wrist-size stretchy strips of rubber were perfect for wrapping around a rolled-up newspaper, making it easier to throw onto a front porch and harder to blow away in the wind.

• He took his idea to the Akron Beacon Journal, and the local newspaper bought a bunch of Spencer’s inner tube strips. The rubber band was born. Spencer started selling his rubber bands to office supply, paper goods, and twine stores across the region, building his business up.

• He opened the world’s first rubber band factory in Alliance, Ohio, and then opened a second one in Hot Springs, Arkansas in 1944. In 1957, he patented the Alliance rubber band, which ultimately set the world rubber band standard.

• Today, Alliance Rubber is the number one rubber band manufacturer in the world, churning out more than 14 million pounds of rubber bands per year. Their annual output would stretch to the Moon and back ten times.

• The biggest consumer of rubber bands is the U.S. Postal Service which uses them to sort and group mail. Second place goes to the newspaper industry, followed by the floral industry and the food industry, which uses them to bunch things like asparagus and broccoli.

• Most rubber bands are made from natural latex which is more elastic than synthetic rubber.

• Rubber bands are manufactured by extruding the prepared latex in the shape of a tube. A large tube yields large rubber bands, and a small tube yields small rubber bands. The tubes are then sliced into rings.

• To extend their life, rubber bands should be packed in an air-tight bag or container, and stored in a cool, dark place.

• The use of rubber bands by Britain’s Royal Mail postal service caused significant media attention in the country due to the large quantity of them found discarded on the ground every day. They changed the color of the rubber bands from brown to red, to make them more visible, and therefore more likely to be picked up by postal workers.

• The world’s largest rubber band ball as of November 19, 2008 was created by Joel Waul of Lauderhill, Florida. He is the current World Record holder according to the Guinness World Records. The ball, which previously sat under a tarp in his driveway, weighs 9,032 pounds, is more than 6 ft 7 in tall, is about a 20 feet in circumference, and consists of more than 700,000 rubber bands. It took him six years to construct. The rubber bands were contributed by Stretchwell.com, a physical therapy company. The ball is now owned by Ripley’s Believe it or Not.

• Before Joel Waul, Steve Milton of Eugene, Oregon previously held the record for the biggest rubber band ball. His ball weighed 4,603.6 lb and was sponsored by OfficeMax. Before Steve Milton, the record was held by John Bain of Wilmington, Delaware whose ball weighed around 3,120 pounds, and consisted of over 850,000 rubber bands which were donated by Alliance Rubber and Stretchwell Inc.