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Some of you may remember this cellulose (wood fiber) story GHA printed in a 1999 newsletter.

It's definitely one of our all-time most startling stories. Patty Griffin, GHA President 60 years ago Dow Chemical gave birth to a laboratory mistake.

That product, now marketed under the name Methocel, is currently the No.

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In the beginning, Dow chemists were experimenting with wood in an attempt to develop a longer-lasting product.

They ground wood into pulp, washed it with chemicals to break it down, and thus created ethyl cellulose (used to make early plastic wrap).

Someone in the lab screwed up and added one too many carbon atoms to the molecule, resulting in a goo called methyl cellulose.

Having a unique sticky layer whose molecules bond together when heated, Methocel becomes something like cooked egg whites. The product has bounced from pillar to post in an attempt to find a strong market—was even killed twice by Dow over the years because its market was too weak.

At first it was used in tile putty and drywall mud as a thickener.

And, it continues to be used in many construction-related products today.Dow says that even though chemicals are used in the manufacturing process, the result is all-natural wood cellulose which is tasteless, odorless and calorie-free. Don Coffee, realized that the slime, already used in some foods, could also be added to soups, sauces, puddings and gravies as a thickener.Frozen pepperoni pizza snacks may be coated with Methocel to reduce tiny puddles of grease from forming.Food companies have been using corn or potato starches for 100 years as thickeners and fillers, but are finding the low cost of Methocel too attractive to pass up.In 1993, three Ph Ds were hired to help expand Dow's market further into the food world.300 employees, including 14 food scientists, now work for the Methocel division which produces 200+ products.

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