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75 Years of Wax Paper

NEWSDAY

In recent years, wax paper has been moving lower and lower on the grocery store shelves. Now, to my dismay, it has reached the very bottom. I was worried that it would soon disappear entirely.

So I am gladdened to know that Cut-Rite Wax Paper, which landed in stores in 1927, the same year Charles Lindbergh landed in Paris after his transatlantic flight, has issued a commemorative 75th anniversary box.

Much as I love wax paper, I have always wondered why it is not called waxed paper.

Pat Schweitzer, a senior home economist for the Reynolds Kitchens (who, with Betty Morton, is on Reynolds television ads) set me straight. She explained that the wax is infused into the tissue paper all the way through; it is not just a coating. So wax is correct.

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Schweitzer remembers watching her mother roll pie crust dough between two sheets of wax paper.

“When I was a child,” Schweitzer said, “the distinctive rip and crinkle of wax paper always signaled something delicious.”

Wax paper was the first product to include a serrated cutter bar, patented for use with Cut-Rite. How smart was that? Now, almost everything that comes on a roll has a cutter bar.

I favor this paper not merely because it is old-fashioned, but because I suspect (and I am not alone in this) that plastic wrap interacts in an unsavory or even toxic way with some foods; the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has urged caution when microwaving food in plastic wrap. (In fact, most plastic wrap melts at between 195 and 250 degrees, which gives one pause for thought.)

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Besides, plastic wrap has an infuriating way of getting tangled and sticking to itself. You’ve been there, done that. Who, I ask, needs it?

Cut-Rite, the wrap de rigueur for lunch-box sandwiches, is plenty good enough for me.

Here are a few reasons to keep wax paper handy.

* Cover food to be microwaved. You can tear off the exact amount needed, and it won’t sag into the food as paper towels do. Also, paper towels may be made of recycled material and contain dyes, which makes them questionable for use on food. Paper towels absorb moisture, while wax paper helps keep food moist.

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* Shred cheese, sift flour and grate lemon zest onto wax paper and, again, there’s nothing to wash.

* Place four strips of wax paper strategically on the edges of a plate, put the first layer of a cake on top, and frost cake. After frosting both layers, slide the paper out from under the edges of the cake for a neat plate without dribbles of frosting.

* Wax paper is the perfect no-stick surface for chocolate-dipped foods.


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