Tinsel sales are up some 40 percent, according to the Brite Star Mfg. Co., one of the few, and largest firms in the United States still making the silvery fluff.
Executive vice president of Brite Star, aka J Kinderman & Sons, Inc., Richard Kinderman told the Wall Street Journal that sales surge when times are tough, as consumers recall simpler, more inexpensive traditions.Richard's grandfather, Israel (yes — the Jews are behind “Big Tinsel”) started up the holiday decorations firm in 1932. They began making the garlands in the 1950s in Philadelphia's south side. Richard's late father, Sandy, so took to the role of tinsel maker to the masses, that he was reportedly nicknamed, “the King of Tinsel.”
These days, glittering styles abound, including holographic colors, silver tinsel trees and pre-shaped spiral cones of tinsel to fit over the real trees. But, a plain old green and red box of “retro” 1,000-count silver garland still costs a buck.Tinsel, invented in the mid-1800s in England, was at first made of shredded silver. When silver became too expensive, a lead-based film was adopted, which, while nicely weighing down tree boughs, wasn't too healthy for children and other living things — including Christmas trees.
Nowadays tinsel ("estincele," or sparkle, in Old French) is mostly made from polyvinyl chloride, which doesn't degrade and must be removed before the tree is recycled.
Brite Star is starting up a Christmas decoration museum, and is asking online for viewers to contact them with donations.