Serving the Fruit Packing Industry Since 1937
Phone: (509) 248-6270

Jiffy Pads

Jiffy Pads

Jiffy Pads help ensure the safety of fruit during shipment and storage by providing a protective barrier that absorbs shock and prevents bruising and additional damage. Using post-industrial recycled paper, Michelsen Packaging produces Jiffy Pads by macerating this material and securing it between layers of paper, forming a cushion that can gently mold around fruit in a shipment box.

Evolution of Jiffy Macerated Pads

For many decades the fruit industry has found it economically advantageous to add interior protection to their commodities. After the apple industry did away with the barrel, they went to baskets. Not long after that, Chip Board material and tissue papers were added for protection. Soon after, the wooden apple box was introduced, 18” X 26” paper liners followed to protect fruit against abrasion.

Our Company has carried some form of fruit protection material from the time the Company was founded in 1937. These materials consisted of basket liners, fringes and caps; the caps were a circular pad for the baskets. For wooden apple boxes, we carried a full line of liners and fruit wraps. The liners and wraps came in purple or blue, green, pink, and white denoting the grade of fruit.

At first, the apple industry used wooden “shook” shipping containers, with the “nail them down until the juice flies” mentality.  When the apple industry converted from these wooden “shook” shipping containers to molded pulp apple trays placed inside a corrugated box, a packaging challenge was created. Nailing the slatted wooden lids to the overfilled wood crates aided in immobilizing the apples for transportation to the market place. In the corrugated box method, even though each apple was separated in this molded pulp tray, they moved around inside the box significantly. Michelsen Packaging decided to learn what goes on inside the corrugated box and attempt to solve this apple movement issue, thus lessening the damage to the fruit.

In those days, each apple box was handled individually up to seven times before it reached the grocery shelf, increasing their probability of being dropped which causes impact (shock) bruises. A chip board pad was placed on top of each packed box to help protect against scuffing and prevent box closing glue from being accidentally applied to the apples. The chip board did very little to absorb impact shock when the box was dropped.

Dave Clevenger, a Michelsen employee, was looking for a packaging product that was thicker than chip board and absorbed shock. He partnered with Gene Shields and together they developed a plastic bubble machine and were awarded a patent for this machine. Placing this bubble pad on the top and bottom of each box was more beneficial than chip board, but far more expensive. The idea was not accepted in the market place. The bubble patent and marketing rights were sold to Sealed Air.

The next product to be tested was the Jiffy Pad. Research indicated that a macerated pad absorbs more “G” force (shock) for the cost than any other product available. Using the “drop ball test” and other sales tools, Michelsen Packaging Company approached the apple market with the recyclable Jiffy top and bottom pad. Even though it was more expensive than chip board, Jiffy Pads offered far greater protection. A pad was placed under the bottom tray in the box to protect the lower layer of apples from handling and transportation damage. A top pad was used to help immobilize the top layer of apples and fill the void space in the top of each box.

Michelsen Packaging was a Jiffy Pad distributor for two years before leasing the first pad-making machine in 1971. This Jiffy Pad machinery allowed MPC to enter the manufacturing business. To add security for Michelsen’s commitment to this new manufacturing operation, the Jiffy Company at one time owned 10% of Michelsen stock. The stock was redeemed a long time ago. Through this process, Jiffy Pads have been a cornerstone of Michelsen’s business for many years.

Michelsen Packaging hired three different companies to develop a pad inserter. The first inserter, out of Wenatchee, featured operating speeds that were too slow and the machine was very expensive. The second inserter, built by Northwest Equipment, was fast enough and not as expensive, but was not durable enough for the demands of an apple packing line. The third inserter was developed by Russ Sims. It was the best fit and gave MPC the opportunity to sell value added to the packer, offering labor savings while reducing paper cut injuries caused by placing pads in each box by hand.

Other top pad products that have made an appearance over the years were polyethylene foam, polystyrene foam and plastic bubble pads. However, they fell short due to:

Once the Jiffy top pad was accepted in the apple industry, another paper pad manufacturers tried to capture the top pad market. American Excelsior offered a paper pad that looked similar to a Jiffy Pad. Excelsior pads were made in Yakima. The sale price was a little less than a Jiffy Pad. It was recyclable like a Jiffy Pad. The Excelsior pad contained shredded news (Jiffy Pads have macerated news) that did not have shock absorbing characteristics.

Polyethylene foam can be dispensed directly into the box. This foam product is cost competitive, but it moves around inside an apple box, offers only minimal impact protection and does not fill much of the void space. A customer logo cannot be printed on this pad. It is difficult to recycle.

Polystyrene foam top pads were light blue in color, much like the foam trays. The pads were priced a little under the Jiffy Pads. They were light in weight, offered little impact resistance, and were very brittle. They did little to fill the void space. They did not last very long in the apple industry. A customer logo cannot be printed on this pad. It was difficult to recycle. The local winds took care of disposal as many pads were noticed in the neighborhoods.

Bubble pads are priced below Jiffy Pads. They are sold as a very clean, see-through pad that can have a customer print. The plastic pad will temporarily fill the void space in the top of an apple box until the bubbles collapse. After many years of testing, rings were noticed on the apples skin where the bubbles made contact. It was determined this was caused by a “bounce back” pressure. When the bubble cell is compressed, it wants to push back against the apple. Recycling these pads is a challenge.