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Soft Plastic-Tenite

Started by benhutcherson, January 14, 2009, 06:12:39 PM

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Hello Folks,

It has been mentioned on here before that soft plastic telephones are made of a plastic called Tenite.

As per the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics(which has a table of trade names for plastics), Tenite is a trademark of Eastman Kodak, and can refer to any of the following:

Cellulose Acetate
Cellulose Acetate Polyethylene
Urethane elastomers

I'm pretty sure that they're not polypropylene, since polypropylene is sort of greasy feeling.

Copolymers are plastics like nylon and polyester, which I'm pretty sure telephones are not.

So, does anyone know for sure which of the above plastics, specifically, that telephones are made of?



I can't answer your question but now that you have mentioned Kodak, there does seem to be a similar pungent quality between the smell inside of a soft plastic case and the insides of a 35mm film cannister.


Come to think of it, I've noticed that, too.

I'm pretty sure that film canisters(or at least the Kodak variety) are polypropylene. There's a former Kodak film engineer on the photography forum I belong to-perhaps he would know.

I suppose that, if telephone cases are in fact polypropylene, they don't have as many plasticizers as other more common polypropylene products have.


Tenite butyrate is a cellulose acetate plastic that was used on the early phones. Various formulations of this plastic have odor masking agents. Around 1949, this plastic was first used (which happened to coincide with the WE 500). Early forms of this plastic had the characteristic odor, while new variations (such as car trim pieces on most new cars ) have the odor removed.
   I remember "butyric acid" from my chemistry days  @ Ohio State. And the smell in the plastic is from a derivative of this.look up this acid on wikipedia and you will get an idea of the smell.
The thermoplastics later introduced were an upgrade in the plastics, but us phone geeks like the classics...
"Imagine how weird telephones would look if our ears weren't so close to our mouths." - Steven Wright


Butyric acid-of course. I should have recognized the smell.

Pure butyric acid smells, to me, very much like parmesan cheese. That is, of course, what a soft plastic 500 set smells like also.

Thanks for the information, Dan.


Okay, now I gotta go to the store and smell some parmesan cheese!


A guy walks into the local hardware/grocery store.

"May I help you sir?"  He is kindly asked.

"Yes.  I would like to smell your best parmesan cheese please"

(He sniffs loudly, softly sneezes, and gets a far away look in the eye.)

"Sir.  you are frightening the customers.  Would you like to make a purchase or should I call security?"

"I'd like to buy two thousand tubes of airplane glue and a roll of 35mm film."

The handcuffs were not necessary and he went peacefully.


You're not predicting my future are you?


Quote from: McHeath on January 14, 2009, 11:54:57 PM
Okay, now I gotta go to the store and smell some parmesan cheese!

Or you could smell a pair of dirty socks.....


The More People I meet, The More I Love, and MISS My Dog.  Dan Robinson


Or stale Fritos corn chips...ever notice that? ;)


Here is the classic Frito story of my life.  Once upon a time, down in Bakersfield California, I was taking a load of junk to the dump for the company I worked for, no big deal right?  (This was early in the Reagan administration era)  Anyways, when I got there I found literally huge piles of Fritos, just huge, maybe 10-15 feet high and 40 feet around the base.  There were a bunch of these piles, all over, it was like a Frito attack from space.  Asked around and found that a new Frito factory had just been built and these were the test batches, which they had to dump. 

And yeah, they were stale.


Yikes!  Attack of the Killer Fritos!  I've heard that the flavor of stale Fritos can be much improved with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese strained through a dirty sock and served on the open shell a moldy soft plastic 500.  Haven't tried it though...


Quote from: McHeath on January 15, 2009, 09:50:40 PMAnd yeah, they were stale.
Anybody wanna ask the obvious question?


QuoteAnybody wanna ask the obvious question?

No no, I didn't eat them.  No way.  I, uh, had a, uh, friend, who was, uh, there and HE ate them.  Yeah, that's it, this other guy, the uh, friend, he did it.  Not me.  No way would I eat from a pile of Fritos in the dump.  Nosireee.


I would kill for a picture of me with my head popping out of a giant pile of Fritos! That's one of my passion foods, and being on a diet, I haven't had a bite of them in over a month!
"Imagine how weird telephones would look if our ears weren't so close to our mouths." - Steven Wright