Correspondence: Expandable History

My Dearest Dr. Tunalu,

I must confess that I was once an avid devotee of Dr. E ...but after much therapy (438 consecutive viewings of the video, "Riverdance") I have since seen the light and have now become Druidic in thought, word and deed.

I would be honored if you would accept for publication this article -- my life's work --which proves without a doubt, the Druidic origins of a key component in our planet's ecosystem.

I am your devoted,

C. Wattle Wansbrough, R.D., M.S., R.N., WG,

---The history of Spandex---

From prehistoric times to the 19th century

Although noted historians and scientists alike have dedicated their lives to its study, many of Spandex's true origins remain shrouded in mystery. While the earliest evidence dates from Neolithic cultures of about 5000 B.C., the production of Spandex was known to have been practiced by many peoples, particularly in Africa, Peru, Ireland and New Jersey. Sadly, examples of prehistoric Spandex are extremely rare because of the edibility of those early fibers. It was not until recent years, with the advent of advanced DNA technology that researchers under the tutelage of Dr. F.E. Tunalu, were able to decipher the complex strands of the Spandex fibraic code, now believed to be the basis for today's Le Moo Francaise.

Cave paintings depicting the tribal civilizations along the Niger reveal fossilized Spandex being utilized as a means of barter or money during the 4th century A.D. Yet specimens of dyed magenta Spandex have also been found in the ruins of Roman hot tubs of the 2nd century B.C. Stone tablets etched with hieroglyphics referring to Queen NuRa's attire as she ran up and down the Great Pyramid of Gizbah, inspecting each stair, appear to point to Spandex as well.

By the early Middle Ages, certain Turkish tribes were skilled in the manufacture of a primitive shiny Spandex although it fell to the Flemish weavers King Francis I brought to Fontainebleau to perfect the distinctive gloss for which the fabric has garnered fame.

It was not until the reign of Louis XVI (1774-93) that its celebrated 'hug your booty' elasticity was achieved, and even then its widespread use was slowed by the outbreak of the French Revolution.

Although the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, renewing the persecution of French Protestants, caused as many as 3500 Span-Spinners to move to London and form a settlement, Spandexian advocacy was generally held in disfavor in England and was ultimately viewed as traitorous. The 'Father of Spandex', Horst Hasselhoff is believed to have spent 18 months in the Tower of London after his Spandex Principles were secretly printed and distributed at Court by Madame Summers, the celebrated mistress of the King.

In 1654, a cadre of Span-Spinners who had circulated a revolutionary Spandex design for ladies' knickers were forceably deported to the New World. Here, under the dynamic leadership of the renegade Hasselhoff, they settled and flourished on a remote outpost in what is now known as The Bronx.

The birth of The Industrial Revolution and in particular the invention of the Flying Shuttle, greatly increased the speed of the Spandex operation, and its success created pressure for more rapid Span-spinning. By the turn of the century,however, there were Spandex shortages throughout all 40 states, in particular California and Texas, and some 85% of the country's gentleman's clubs had been forced to shutter down. Rumors flew that the fledging Suffragette movement was behind the turmoil, and that precious bolts of Spandex were being hoarded in Seneca Falls, New York.

President Theodore Roosevelt was finally forced to intervene after a violent Spandex Uprising took place in what is regarded as a precursor to the first strip mall near Los Angelenos, California. New Labor laws preventing Spandex strikes saved thousands of jobs and lives. 'Teddy' campaigned that year with the slogan, "A Chicken In Every Pot, Spandex on Every Butt." He won, roundly.

The Present and The Proud Future of Spandex

The Spandex Century continued to forge forward. By the 1930s, it was evident that further progress required a clear understanding of the scientific principles of both textile processing and nuclear fission.

In the 20th century, spurred on by descendants of Captain Hasselhoff in collusion with The League of Women Voters, new physical and engineering concepts were employed in Spandex research and development. The Los Alamos plant spewed out advance after advance. Horst 'Davey' Hasselhoff the III won the 1939 Nobel Prize for his revolutionary application of Spandex in the burgeoning aviation industry. His 'Spirit of Spandex' airship was the first to cross the Atlantic.

By the beginning of World War II, troops, donning their glowing new Spandex uniforms, proudly marched off to battle. While there were some initial problems during black-outs in London, these few obstacles were quickly surmounted. Ronald Reagan, star of The StarSpangled Spandex Theater, proclaimed that Spandex had won the war!

Today it is hard to deny Spandex' immutable place in American History. From the creation of the suburbs in the 1950's, largely attributed to the shifting of the giant Spandex factories to the countryside, to the civil unrest of the 60's, when workers were denied the right to wear tie-dyed Spandex, to the famous Spandex Coat speech delivered by an eventually unseated President, it is clear that the very heart and soul of our nation has long belonged to this proud elastomeric compound!

Super Fun Spandex Facts

Did you know that . . . .

-Spandex fibres can be stretched 500-610% beyond their original length without breaking -- and quickly return to their original length???

-Spandex is 85% polyurethane by weight!

-In Sweden, state law prevents the sale of Spandex to anyone weighing more than 30 stones.

-Spandex melts at 250 C (480F)!

-The singer formerly known as Prince has now changed to his name to the chemical symbol for Spandex.

-Spandex fibre starts out as WHITE.

-International SpanWorks, largest producer of elastos, has invented a stretchy, taffy-like low-fat substitute?

-What famous aerobics star wrote 'I must be buried in my purple Spandex' in his/her will?

-In 1975, Spandex was a mere 49% of our Gross National Product. By 1995, it's up to a robust 63%, surpassing corn, wheat and soybeans as our largest export to Japan.

(See related articles, 'Polyurethane is My Pal' and 'Love That Lycra' , also by C. Wattle Wansbrough)

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