The Irish soda bread wriggled inside the lifeless Saran Wrap. The van rounded a corner and the bread pan slid to the edge of the seat, nearly toppling but for my last-minute grab. "Is there a plastic wrap that works?" I muttered to myself. The battle between plastic wrap and me has been going for years. Is it my wrapping technique, or is it the fact that I always buy the generic brands? Or does all cling wrap stink? I started with the usual phone chain of those in the know, or, more accurately, those whom I know. It turned out that plastic wrap is a hot-button issue. All the ladies I called had an opinion on it.
Longtime pal Bernice offered a suggestion. "Glad works [Cling Wrap, $3.79 for 200 sq. feet at Vons], but the generic brands usually do not stick," she said.
Chum Erica seconded Bernice's Glad position. "I only use Glad because even with the name brands, some are better than others. It's not like with tin foil where any brand will work. But Glad does work. I have read that you are not supposed to cover food with plastic wrap and put it in the microwave to reheat it. There is a danger of the plastic leaching off into the food. So we don't use plastic wrap for that now."
My old friend Sarah commiserated with the static-less wrap dilemma. "There are definitely some brands that don't stick at all; they just lay flat on top of the bowl. But I usually wrap the entire bowl, top and bottom, in wrap until the two edges touch each other. Or I do a layer in one direction and then a layer in the other direction so that the container has been completely covered. It uses up a ton, though. I never actually read the directions, so it would be interesting to see how they say you are supposed to wrap it," she added.
"I am a huge fan of Costco's Kirkland Plastic wrap [ $9.99 for 3000 sq. feet]," stated sis Nancy. "It's restaurant quality, bulk amount, clings to anything, and it has a cutter on it like the closure of a Ziploc bag. So convenient. I don't belong to Costco anymore, and I miss that wrap terribly."
Impressed with her fervor, I made a note to swing by Costco and check out the precious wrap.
"I don't even buy it," answered my other sis, Meg. "It's too expensive. I use tin foil if absolutely necessary; otherwise, a bread bag suffices. That's what Mom did."
I laughed at the memory and Meg's...thriftiness. Mom reused bread bags for storing food in the fridge and wrapping the sandwiches for our school lunches. Every day at lunch, while the other girls removed white-bread sandwiches from Ziploc bags, I would reach into my brown paper bag, extricate the sandwich from the embarrassing bread bag, and then remove it from the brown bag.
My friend Margaret shared my dissatisfaction for plastic wrap but for a different reason: "They all stink," she complained. "The deciding factor for me is a good cutter and the wrap has to stay in the box. The quality of the wrap means less to me than the box and the cutter. If it comes out of the box, the box gets lost; it's near useless. The Costco wrap comes in a heavy box, so when you pull out the wrap, the roll stays in the box. And it comes with a no-sharp-edge cutter, so it is not hazardous for my kids to use."
Another friend of mine, Shawn, loves Glad Press'n Seal ( $4.19 for 70 sq. feet at Vons). "It sticks way better," she said. "I don't know why, but it does. Go get some and try it out."
I bought some and then contacted Glad spokesperson Cammie Nguyen about the Press'n Seal product. "What gives Glad Press'n Seal wrap its sealing qualities is it uses Griptex, a proprietary gripping technology. Think of the textured surface of Glad Press'n Seal wrap as having thousands of tiny hills and valleys. Only when you apply pressure do the valleys seal to the desired location. The sealing actually works with the help of the primary ingredients typically found in chewing gum -- an old idea now applied to wrap. These ingredients have been approved by the FDA for over 35 years and are frequently used for labels found on fruits and vegetables. According to the FDA, small amounts of such ingredients in food do not pose any health risk.
"While other wraps cling," Nguyen continued, "Glad Press'n Seal wrap actually seals to surfaces including plastic, paper, wood, metal, Styrofoam containers, and glass. It's the first sealable plastic wrap."
And the worry of plastic leaching into the food?
"The concern over heating plastics and migration stems from the use of chemical additives [known as plasticizers] in plastics made of polyvinyl chloride [PVC]. Glad does not use any PVC plastics in its products. Glad wraps are safe to use in the microwave."