Saturday, November 8, 2014

In Case of Attack, Don't Wrap It, Bag It

Baggies in the Bunk(er)
Post-Apocalyptic Hygiene—and Humor
“Don’t wrap it. Bag it . . . in Baggies.”

During the Cold War years, my classmates and I practiced duck-and-cover and evacuation drills in case of nuclear attack. Should one happen during school hours at our Jacksonville, Florida, elementary school, the plan was for us to walk to nearby railroad tracks and board trains for St. Augustine. There, we would shelter in Castillo de San Marco.
Each student had evacuation supplies to take with them on that walk. I remember only one item on the list: Baggies, which were a new product in the 1960s. The first plastic wrap bag on the market, Baggies meant brown-baggers were saved from the chore of peeling layers of wet wax paper from soggy sandwiches, pickles, fruit, and worse. All hail the baggie! We said goodbye to wilted, mushy lunches. Television commercials sang the praises of Baggies with the then-familiar jingle “Don’t wrap it. Bag it . . . in Baggies!” It became a stuck-in-your head sing-song like Frozen’s “Let It Go,” Alka-Seltzer’s “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is,” or McDonald’s “You Deserve a Break Today.”
Mrs. Steffan, our no-nonsense teacher, stood at the front of the class and reviewed the disaster-preparedness supply list. One student raised his hand. “Why Baggies?” Glenn Gay asked.
She looked over her glasses at him, and steeled her eyes toward the class. “When you have to go to the bathroom, what do you think you’ll do if there aren’t any toilets?”
Glenn missed nary a beat: “Don’t wrap it. Bag it… in Baggies!”
Hilarity ensued. Joyous laughter filled the classroom. It was such a gift in the face of the fears we felt. Today, the memory continues to offer me a lighthearted memory of that time. Once safe from the threat, our supplies were sent home. I imagine many a child was relieved to use Baggies for their intended purpose.
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If you are not worried about it getting “stuck in your head,” the original Baggies commercial can be viewed at the following YouTube link:

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