From the current issue of Forbes Magazine comes a story about chemists at Procter & Gamble (P&G). Back in 1996, they came up with a substance they called olestra. The stuff wouldn’t stick to anything, including human intestinal tracts. It was supposed to be a calorie-free fat; a dieter’s dream come true. Sales projections for olestra were $1 Billion a year.
Unfortunately, the non-absorptive properties in olestra also made it an excellent laxative. Customer complaints rolled in, and as you might expect, sales forecasts did not meet expectations. It was eventually withdrawn from the market. Olestra is currently used as a lube in the manufacture of PVC pipe.
But, they didn’t stop there. The folks in the lab coats are an intrepid bunch. They found that by varying the amounts of chemicals and oils, along with varying the pressures when mixing, olestra went from something that didn’t stick to anything, to something that sticks to everything. Voila! Paint! They call the new stuff Sefose.
P&G has formed a partnership with Kansas City based Cook Composites & Polymers to produce what they say is a more environmentally friendly paint. Sefose would replace some of the more volatile solvents found in both oil-based and latex paints.
All of which begs the question: What’s the difference between a grocery store, a drugstore, and a hardware store? Might we one day go to Lowe’s for our dietary needs and Longs for those springtime touch-up supplies? Buyer beware, indeed: Same stuff in a new improved box.