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Rock, Paper, Scissors ... and Excelsior by Linda Parker


Are you good with multiple-choice questions? Try this one.


The word “excelsior” means:


(a) a Star Trek starship; (b) a famous poem; (c) a city in the United States; (d) the shaved wood packing material often found in gift boxes and fruit baskets; or (e) one of the world’s largest diamonds.


Okay, it’s a trick question; all of the answers are correct.


You will fi nd excelsior in the name of poems, cities, gemstones, spaceships, sports teams, hotels, schools and other organizations that want to align with the word’s Latin meaning of “always upward; high or lofty.” Appropriately, the word excelsior is also in the name of American Excelsior Company, the manufacturer widely recognized as the nation’s leading producer of stranded wood fi bers for packing, erosion control and an impressive list of other applications.


Excelsior for More than a Century


In the 1800s, sawmills boomed as America rapidly built ships, railways and cities. Wood shavings from the mills were a nuisance byproduct until creative minds recognized the potential to pack cushions, mattresses and upholstered furnishings with shaved wood, replacing the heavy, oily horsehair stuffi ng then in use. Excelsior, originally a brand name of a specifi c product, soon evolved into the widely accepted name for all shaved wood stuffi ng and packaging material, although you will also hear people refer to excelsior as “wood wool.”


In 1888, the American Excelsior Company was launched for the production of stranded wood fi bers that today are manufactured exclusively from aspen trees. Over the years, American


Why Aspen? Curlex excelsior from American Excelsior is engineered exclusively from renew- able Great Lakes Aspen trees harvested within 100 miles of the company’s facility in Rice Lake, Wisconsin. Averaging 20 to 80 feet in height, deciduous aspen trees occasionally reach 24 inches in diameter, but more typically have a diameter of 3 to 18 inches.


Aspens are “clean” to use in manufactur- ing processes, such as the production of excelsior. Most importantly, when harvested responsibly, aspen trees are a renewable resource.


Although aspens can be grown from seeds, generally they reproduce vegeta- tively, meaning they send out suckers and runners. Geneticists have ascertained that forest-size groves of aspen trees are, in fact, a single enormous plant. Scien- tists know that aspen forests are most likely the largest single organism in the world.


All raw materials for Curlex are pur- chased from members of sustainable forestry programs.


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