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Monday, July 17, 2006

Polyester leisure suits making a comeback?

As a newly-minted chemical-engineering graduate of University of Minnesota in 1975, I took a job at Union 76 research in glamorous southern California. Knowing that a hick like me from the midwest USA needed to impress the Hollywood types, I bought the latest fashion -- a polyester leisure suit (click this link to see the jacket I bought -- pastel blue). What brought this to mind was seeing in this morning's newspaper an article about Ingeo -- a new fiber made from genetically engineered corn. According to the producer, NatureWorks (a unit of Minnesota-based Cargill Inc.) "It has all the attributes of polyester." Some folks fear the possible health problems from genetically engineered products, but that doesn't worry me. My concern is that this Ingeo material may lead to a comeback of leisure suits. I am still smarting from the ridicule of the Southern Californians when I paraded around in the mid-70's in my new blue polyester outfit. A comic came on Johnny Carson's "Tonight" television show in 1976 and claimed that a researcher dressed up thousands of mice in leisure suits and found that they got cancer -- a satirical comment on why this polyester garb so quickly disappeared from the fashion scene. Why are engineers from the midwest always the last to realize things like this?


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