If you’re of a certain age, you remember the scenario all too well.
After finishing a piece of that “finger lickin’ good chicken” at Kentucky Fried Chicken, you reached for the “wet nap” that came with the order.
The ingenious invention was the brainchild of Arthur Julius, who, in 1957, got the idea of putting disposable wet paper into a package and selling his “Nice ’n Clean” product to the restaurant industry.
Julius went on to meet with the real Col. Harland Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken, and, from there, Nice ’n Clean became the Wet Nap wipe — a foodservice staple — first at Kentucky Fried Chicken, and then at barbecue and other foodservice establishments across the country.
Innovations that followed over the next 65 years from Nice-Pak and its sister company, PDI Healthcare, include many firsts: the first alcohol swab for hospitals, the first resealable baby wipes travel pack, the first disinfecting wipe, the antimicrobial alcohol gel hand wipe, the eco-pak for household disinfecting wipes, the first inner leaf baby wipe (meaning they have pop-up dispensing), the first car sanitizing wipes and, most recently, the first flushable wipe made with plant-based materials.
Today, the fourth-generation, family-owned company says its purpose is helping the world stay healthy, “one wipe at a time.”
Nice-Pak is the largest global wet wipes supplier, with four manufacturing facilities around the world — all producing products conceived from the company’s research & development center in Montvale, which opened in 2013.
John Iarocci, vice president of research & development at Nice-Pak, said the company is eager to find the next great innovation of the product.
“We are the global leader in wet wipes,” he said. “We know wet wipes better than anyone.”
Nice-Pak aimed to be a leader in the fight against COVID-19 and its variants. As soon as the specific coronavirus strain of SARS-CoV-2 became available, Iarocci said Nice-Pak went to work testing the efficacy of its Nice ’n Clean disinfecting wipes against the virus on hard, nonporous surfaces.
All of that testing is being done at the Montvale facility, using state-of-the-art technology.
But that’s not all the company is working on.
Iarocci said research activities focused on surface disinfection, surface cleaning, skin antisepsis, hand hygiene, personal care and more are always being conducted to bring Nice ’n Clean products to the market, including baby wipes, hand wipes, disinfecting wipes and, now, flushable wipes.
Most recently, to ease the burden of the country’s strained wastewater infrastructure — an issue brought to light due to the 2020 toilet paper shortage and the stress flushing other products causes on wastewater systems — Nice-Pak launched Nice ’n Clean SecureFLUSH Technology Flushable Wet Wipes in November.
Iarocci said the patent-pending technology is coming to market after six years of rigorous R&D and testing at the Montvale facility.
“It took us six years to get both the wipe fiber and the formula just right, so that the product performs to our high standards,” he said.
According to Iarocci, most wipes on the market are at least partially synthetic, but Nice ’n Clean SecureFLUSH wipes are made with naturally derived ingredients and plant-based fibers.
“The wipe is a 100% cellulose nonwoven product made with naturally derived ingredients and plant-based fibers that are strong, yet biodegradable and flushes safely to responsibly care for toilets, septic systems and wastewater facilities,” he said. “The wipes also break apart five times faster than the leading brand of two-ply toilet paper.”
The first to have all cellulosic materials in their wipes, Iarocci said the company believes this technology can be the solution that benefits consumers while reducing the stress on sewer and septic systems nationwide.
“Now, we’ve introduced a product that changes the flushability paradigm for responsible care of plumbing and wastewater,” Iarocci said. “So far, customers have positive reviews of the product. Before the wipes were put on the market in November, it underwent rigorous testing at the company’s research & development facilities.”
Product testing performed at the center includes: flushability, pipe simulator, tensile, sustainability, cleaning, abrasion and stability chamber modules. With more than 30 scientists and engineers who spend over 55,000 hours every year working on innovation and product development, Iarocci said, the facility’s commitment to innovation and quality has led to the creation of many breakthrough products and packaging that leads the industry.
Iarocci said the R&D team in Montvale is really very proud of the product, because of the design and environmental concern went into its development.
“The beauty of the product is that it is strong enough to serve its purpose, yet, when you put it in the toilet, it just basically loses all of its strength and goes back to fibers,” he said. “It really serves an unmet need in the market.”
Just as the Wet Nap did at KFC all those years ago.
Reach Nice-Pak at: nicepak.com or call 800-444.6725