the national trademark

January 31st, 2006

I'm starting this with an experimental exercise, please go along. First, get a teaspoon and a plate from the kitchen. Go on, I'll wait. Ok, now get a plastic bag. It can be the one from the supermarket, it can also be that transparent one that you package fruit in, it doesn't matter, as long as it's a plastic bag. While you're at it, get some toilet paper, 50cm should do. Ok, go. Got it? Ok, one last thing, I need you to get a glass of water, don't fill it up to the top so you don't spill it as you race back up the stairs. Go.

Great, now let's begin. Dip the teaspoon in the water, so that you have one teaspoon of water. Dump the water in the spoon onto the plate, don't distribute, dump it all in one place. Now take the plastic bag and dry up the water on the plate. Go ahead, dry it up. What? It's not working? Ok, now grab the toilet paper and try the same thing, dry up the water with the toilet paper. What's that? You got it? Good. Now, let's analyze that experiment. You see paper absorbs water, plastic does not. That fact alone is enough to account for the astounding observations made today. (And you probably thought today would be a complete waste, huh.)

No doubt on the basis of such experiments, a bright, young Polish thinker conceived a product that would take the country by storm - the water tight paper napkin. If you stop by one of the countless "bar's" in the country, in cities, alongside highways, they're all over the place, and sample the local cuisine, you will without fail encounter these unique but omnipresent curious napkins. And they have not changed a bit for 20 years. Their most interesting quality is that they're completely useless as napkins. You spill something, try to dry it up with a napkin, it doesn't absorb water. It's not completely water tight, it's semi water tight. It still feels mostly like paper, but with a significant blend of plastic (or what have you) in it. So what if you get your hands greasy from the food? Napkins sure don't do shit for you, that's for sure.

And you have to understand, this is not a regional phenomenon, they have them all over the country, everywhere it's the same napkins. Go to any restaurant in the country and you'll find them. Perhaps in a real upscale place they will have the normal paper napkins, but otherwise that's what you get. The curious thing is that while this is a nation wide product, I don't think they export it. I haven't seen the semi water tight napkins anywhere else. Perhaps they tried and failed, I don't know. If you do come across them elsewhere, please let me know. If you think you may have found them but you're not sure, ask the proprietor for a teaspoon, a plate, a glass of water and some toilet paper..

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10 Responses to "the national trademark"

  1. erik says:

    Gorgeous post :D Haven't seen any napkins of the sort, ever, myself though...

  2. numerodix says:

    I'm not surprised, most people never have. I'll bring you back some next time I go.

  3. erik says:

    Can you write on it? Then it might be of good use to me...

  4. numerodix says:

    Never occured to me to try that. It might smudge...

  5. ash says:

    Maybe Poland has more oil than trees? No, that still doesn't make sense.

  6. Diana says:

    Like this post :D
    You write about a nation wide product, are you writing about The Netherlands? Cause I can't recall such napkins :S Or maybe I am just very stupid. Anyway I like your blog, I really do. May I make a link to your blog on my blog? :)

  7. numerodix says:

    No, I put some clues in my post, it's a Polish national trademark. :)

    You may do whatever you like :D

  8. Diana says:

    Clues, I always miss them :)
    Anyway, I've made that link. I put you in the list of friends ( you're a friend of Erik, and any amico di Erik is an amico of mine :strong: ) I was just too lazy to create an extra link list. :D

  9. numerodix says:

    You are hereby added to my list of links :)

  10. Diana says:

    I am honoured :)