Friday, April 2, 2010

Boomerang Formica


The pattern that you see above is what I see underneath my cereal bowl as I douse my Shreddies with milk each morning. No, it's not the result of over-imbibing the night before, as evidenced by the fact that I was able to capture a photographic image of it. It's my kitchen counter top.

What I didn't realize, until recently, is that it has a name; boomerang Formica. The "boomerang" part of this interesting handle is an obvious allusion to the vague way in which the curvy little shapes resemble boomerangs, and the "Formica" part is owing to the fact that the laminate material upon which said curvy little shapes are printed is a heat-resistant, wipe-clean brand of composite materials manufactured by the Formica Corporation, based in Cincinatti, Ohio (according to Wikipedia). So, all in all, boomerang Formica is a very sensible moniker. "Amoeba Formica" would have been another possibility, but you don't want to associate the countertops upon which you prepare food with microsopic living organisms. I'd have to say that the marketing whizzes at Formica Corporation called this one right.

According to Jane and Michael Stern's Encyclopedia of Pop Culture (HarperCollins, 1992), patterns similar to this adorned the counter tops of homes and diners such as Al's back in the Happy Days, which gives you some idea how old my house is. It also gives you some idea how long it's been since any renovation or serious redecorating has been done (hint: not since before I moved into the place).

Boomerang Formica, say the Sterns, "signaled a forward-looking point of view, defiantly different from old, dowdy motifs such as the cabbage roses and Grecian urns" which embellish my bathroom walls and counter tops. That's me all over. Forward-looking but, unfortunately, riding in the caboose.

Wikipedia tells us that Formica was invented in 1912 by Daniel J. O'Conor and Herbert A. Faber, who worked for Westinghouse at the time. Before then, the word "formica" was used only in reference to a particular genus of ants (again according to Wikipedia), which would explain why my kitchen counters are overrun with ants each summer. I'm not sure how O'Conor and Faber were able to foresee this, but it all begins to make sense now. The ants probably follow the boomerangs, assuming that they point the way to the food.

Sadly, the heady days when counter tops such as the one in my kitchen exuded optimism and alluded to a "sleek, curved and speedy" future have faded into yesteryear. Now, say Jane and Michael Stern, "boomerang Formica is as nostalgic as doo-wop music and Brylcreemed hair". Well, I've admitted before on this blog that I have a weakness for nostalgia.

Okay, so my home is looking a little dated and I suppose I should really redo my kitchen counter tops. On the other hand, some styles are cyclical. If I hold out just a bit longer, maybe boomerang Formica will come back (Get it? Har! I kill me!)

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh ho ho! WHAT A DAY BRIGHTENER!! XD

The Ideas Junkie said...

You know you've been over-indulging the night before is if the boomerang pattern is starting to move... either that or it's time to panic!

David said...

Unless you've been living under a rock, you may have noticed that 50's design is extremely fashionable again and your 'dated' boomerang formica is going for $400+ a sheet, more than double the price of other formica patterns. Thought that may help in your decision to send it to the dump.

Halmanator said...

Well, I never claimed to be one who stays abreast of the latest trends, especially where fashion is concerned. I did get a clue, however, based on the surprising number of hits on this post by people Googling for information about Boomerang formica ... like you, for instance. ;-)

shegeek said...

I found your post while doing research in preparation for writing a screen saver based on the boomerang pattern. Your pic is the biggest one I've found, so it will help me a lot. Thanks.

Halmanator said...

Oh! Oh! Can I have a copy? I've always wanted to see my kitchen countertop on my computer desktop!

Bstermyster said...

I just ran across your blog looking up laminate counterop info. Boomerang is actually mentioned as one of the consumer reports best buys, LOL. I decided to google Boomerang pattern countertops and ...here I am, visiting you.

Halmanator said...

You're in good company, friend. I can't believe how many people seem to google "boomerang formica"! That, and "courtroom sketch artists".

reynolf oliveros said...

wow! It is my first time to read this kind of stuff. Can you evaluate my site? formica sheets

Halmanator said...

Well my friend, when it comes to informing the world about the wonders of formica, you've got this blog beat hands-down!