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The case of the sticky labels

“KC, I need your help-fast,” said the guy on the phone. I recognized that foghorn voice immediately.

“Marmaduke Surfaceblow, my old shipmate!” I said. “Long time no sea” Marmy and I went back a ways. If he needed help, I was only too happy to provide it.

“Packaging is a bit out of your normal line, isn’t it?” I asked.

“Well, yes, but I got involved trying to help Bill James over here at Acme Bottling and I have an odd problem I can’t solve.”

We met in his office and he shoved a roll of labels at me. “Look at these,” he said. “All stuck together.”

I unwound a few turns and he was right. Labels are supposed to stick, but not this way. The label face was sticking to the back of the liner.

“Fiddlesticks on sticky labels,” I told him. “Your problem is the adhesive. It is oozing out from under the label and getting on the backside of the liner.

“This looks like a case of overwinding,” I continued. “If care is not taken as the labels are wound onto the core, tension will build up. As layers of liner and label accumulate, this tension will squeeze out the adhesive. Better care in winding will prevent this problem in the future.”

“Thanks, KC. You are a lifesaver. Let’s adjourn to O’Houlihans back room and tell sea stories.” He had Sandpaper Gin, I had Paintpeeler coffee. I didn’t need to sleep for a couple of days anyway.

Marmaduke Surface was a recurring feature by the late Steve Elonka in Power Magazine in the 60’s and 70’s. His adventures were the inspiration for KC Boxbottom.

KC Boxbottom, packaging detective, is on the case to solve tough packaging puzzles. He is the alter-ego of John Henry, CPP. Known as the Changeover Wizard, Henry is the owner of, a consulting firm that helps companies find and fix the causes of inefficiencies in their packaging operations. He produces a free monthly newsletter called Lean Changeover, which contains articles and tips on changeover and related issues. Reach him at [email protected].

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