An Etiological Tale

In a small town in Tennessee there lived a young inventor named Roger, with his wife Mary Ann. Mary Ann was a housewife, devout and the daughter of a priest.
One day, a businessman came to Roger with a difficult job. He said:
"My company produces small electronics, like radios, headphones and alike. These items are expensive, but also prone to theft. Could you device a way of wrapping such items so that:
-it's transparent, the items must be visible from the outside;
-it can't easily be opened, to discourage thieves;
-it is firm so the contents are protected, to minimize damage before the products are used;
-the company name, instructions and attractive pictures should be able to be included in a visible way;
-for easy display purposes there must be a hole in it that won't tear up by the product's weight.
If you can design such a package, my company will pay any cost of patent, you can attach your own name to it, and you will be richer than you can ever imagine!"

Since Roger was not a very wealthy man, he jumped eagerly on this golden opportunity. He made boxes with foam, but they weren't transparent. He made polyethylene boxes, but they could be opened either too easily, or not at all. He thought of glass boxes, but they were too easily damaged.

And then, on one frustrated evening while playing with bubble wrap, Roger had a great idea. He decided to work through the night: first he stuck a knife to a piece of cardboard with plastic straps, then he cast molten polyethylene around it. It was transparent, firm, and the writing on the cardboard could be seen clearly! Roger got enthusiastic. He couldn't wait to show it to the missus!

Dawn came, and Mary Ann, a peaceful and gentle dame, was awoken by the morning light. She stretched herself a little, and gently moved out of her warm bed into daytime clothing. She smiled at the sun and noticed the sense of cheer that had filled the house. As her heart filled with joy, she walked down to the kitchen, ready for her breakfast.

She sought and found the toaster, put two slices of bread in them and was ready to prepare her Mary Ann Morning Munching to get the day to a good start. She opened the drawer, looking for proper cutlery. But what's this? The big knife was missing, and without that she couldn't possibly cut the hard cheese.

Roger walked in. "Good morning sweetheart, did you sleep well?"
-"Oh yes, thank you," Mary Ann replied. "Say, have you seen the large knife by any chance?"
-"Why yes! Look Here!"

With a proud smirk, Roger tossed the plastic-wrapped knife onto the kitchen table. "I created this overnight. With this, our worries will be over!"
-"Why that's lovely, darling, but right now I'd like to use the blade."
Roger smiled.
"Well, dear Mary, I'd like to put this item to the test. It has to be theft-proof, and I'd like to see you open it."

Mary Ann set to work.
"My curiosity is tempted. It looks like you can just tear these halves apart..."
She tried to get her fingers around the edges, but it was a lot more sturdy than she thought. Mary put all her strength to it, but to no avail.
"Well, looks like I'll have to use a knife for it... Oh, wait..."
She stared at the wrapped blade, now unusable and seemingly unfreeable. But Mary was no quitter: she kept on struggling. She tried to pierce the PE with scissors, but she only got small dents. Her fingers weren't strong enough to cut through the cardboard section of the item.
Mary Ann's sunny mood was ruined. She was hungry, and she spent half an hour of time she would never get back on opening something just to get the proper blade for her Morning Munch. Her hands were red. Between the thumb and forefinger of her right hand a pocket of fluid had formed under the skin. She gave in, and tossed it angrily to Roger.

Now Roger had to fight it. He tried the scissors and managed to cut the top of the cardboard section right off. He put his fingers between the halves, but cut them when he tried to pull open the wrap. He carefully cut the front out of the container, and cut himself again when he tried to remove it. The knife was retrieved, but Roger again cut himself when he tried to sling it in the bin.

As Mary Ann dressed his wounds with a gentle touch, she said: "I curse this item. May it become popular around the world, and I shall name it after that what I got from it!"

And so it happened that blister packs swept the world, sending 6,000 Americans every year to the emergency room.