Who's buying all the glitter?

Dakota Tebaldi

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#1
This recent New York Times article about the glitter industry and describing a tour of a glitter factory is, I suppose, mildly but banally interesting - except for a giant glitter-mystery bomb that it drops near the end. It seems this mystery has caught the attention of some quarters of the internet, leading to massive speculation.

In the article, the author tours the Glitterex manufacturing plant. At one point during the tour, he questions plant manager Lauren Dyer about the highly strict secrecy when it comes to purchasers of Glitterex's products:

This was all very forthright, but it did not explain the air of oppressive secrecy that seems to permeate the glitter industry. Did Glitterex worry I would describe its equipment so accurately that readers might construct their own machines to manufacture their own glitter in bulk quantities? Mr. Shetty said that, trade secrets aside, confidentiality is a top-down requirement from clients. Companies do not want others in their industry to know what glitters are in their products, to prevent competitors from making identical formulations.

When I asked Ms. Dyer if she could tell me which industry served as Glitterex’s biggest market, her answer was instant: “No, I absolutely know that I can’t.”

I was taken aback. “But you know what it is?”

“Oh, God, yes,” she said, and laughed. “And you would never guess it. Let’s just leave it at that.” I asked if she could tell me why she couldn’t tell me. “Because they don’t want anyone to know that it’s glitter.”

“If I looked at it, I wouldn’t know it was glitter?”

“No, not really.”

“Would I be able to see the glitter?”

“Oh, you’d be able to see something. But it’s — yeah, I can’t.”

I asked if she would tell me off the record. She would not. I asked if she would tell me off the record after this piece was published. She would not. I told her I couldn’t die without knowing. She guided me to the automotive grade pigments.
For context, the automotive-grade pigments were simply the next stop on the tour, not the hint or the answer that the author was begging for.

Sooooo......what is it? What industry IS the largest buyer of the world's glitter? Remember, it has to be an application that 1) isn't obviously and self-evidently glitter, AND 2) must be something that the company DOESN'T want the public knowing in general that it contains glitter. Both of these conditions would seem to rule out the aforementioned automotive paints, things like skin/hair/beauty products, and products made of plastics and rubbers where the glitter they contain is readily visible. But what does that leave?
 

RealVioletWitch

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#3
I think its gotta be the food industry. They don't want anyone to know they're feeding people glitter. But they want the food to look good. Somehow they're using glitter in a non-obvious way to make some processed food look more appealing.
 
Sep 23, 2018
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#4
Me. It's me. I love glitter. I put it all over everything. I throw It on people walking past my house. I put it all over Snape so he glitters when we go to the dog park.

Seriously, a lot of products aimed at little girls have glitter in them, and tons of kid crafty stuff uses glitter - so art teachers in elementary schools probably use a fuck ton of it.
 

Innula Zenovka

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#5

Defence or the space industry are two popular suggestions.
 

Kara Spengler

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#6
Maybe someone is building the Mother Of All Glitter-Bombs?
 
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#7
This piece on Slate: Seven Possible Uses of Glitter, raises a few possibilities. Then again, in direct response to the article Cody linked, the author does make this note:

On Twitter, Weaver followed up: “Please ask the smartest person in your family what the glitter industry’s biggest market is, and reveal their answers here.”

I went one further: I asked Joe Colleran at Meadowbrook Inventions, the world’s leading glitter manufacturer. “It’s nothing so interesting,” he says. “Small manufacturers protect client information to protect business. It’s really that simple.”
 

Katheryne Helendale

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#8
This piece on Slate: Seven Possible Uses of Glitter, raises a few possibilities. Then again, in direct response to the article Cody linked, the author does make this note:
Even large manufacturers usually don't divulge their client lists. I'm pretty sure there's not much more to it than that.

Although, I can think of a few useful applications for glitter in the defense industry.
 

Khamon

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#9
The mothers of the girls in my 3&4yo choir that’s who. People have gotten used to seeing me with glittering hair, face, hands, and shoes. The parents have also adjusted to me handing them forgotten dinosaurs, socks, and hairbows anywhere in town any day of the week.
 

Casey Pelous

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#10
What's the stuff they blow out of airplanes to goober up radar and, I imagine, other tracking devices? I'd say Katheryne's on it -- if I was the Defense department, I'd be very, very interested in keeping the dimensions and materials of that stuff to myself.
 

Dakota Tebaldi

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#11
What's the stuff they blow out of airplanes to goober up radar and, I imagine, other tracking devices? I'd say Katheryne's on it -- if I was the Defense department, I'd be very, very interested in keeping the dimensions and materials of that stuff to myself.
Chaff - but glitter isn't going to cut it; to properly interfere with radar, chaff needs to be a certain specific length - usually exactly 1/2, MAYBE 1/4 the wavelength of the radar beam to be jammed. Either way this works out to little strips or threads that are an inch or more long.
 
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#12
Chaff - but glitter isn't going to cut it; to properly interfere with radar, chaff needs to be a certain specific length - usually exactly 1/2, MAYBE 1/4 the wavelength of the radar beam to be jammed. Either way this works out to little strips or threads that are an inch or more long.
That piqued my interest. The Wikipedia radar article seems to indicate radar wavelengths are all over the place. From

10 - 100 meters Coastal radar systems, over-the-horizon radar (OTH) radars
to
.75 to 1.11 centimeters - Photo radar, used to trigger cameras which take pictures of license plates of cars running red lights
 

Kara Spengler

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#13
Chaff - but glitter isn't going to cut it; to properly interfere with radar, chaff needs to be a certain specific length - usually exactly 1/2, MAYBE 1/4 the wavelength of the radar beam to be jammed. Either way this works out to little strips or threads that are an inch or more long.
Thanks, I forgot the size that was used. I was pretty sure chaff was bigger than glitter though.
 

Dakota Tebaldi

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#14
That piqued my interest. The Wikipedia radar article seems to indicate radar wavelengths are all over the place. From

10 - 100 meters Coastal radar systems, over-the-horizon radar (OTH) radars
to
.75 to 1.11 centimeters - Photo radar, used to trigger cameras which take pictures of license plates of cars running red lights
Yup and the chaff has to be cut to EXACTLY match the kind of radar it's intended to jam - otherwise it has no effect whatsoever, it may as well not even be there. So when fighters and bombers are prepped for launch, the crew chief needs to basically anticipate what kinds of enemies are likely to be targeting it, and what's known about those radar systems, so they can pre-load the plane with the correct chaff charges. I mean at this point it's just like a table or checklist prolly, but a lot of intel and experimenting led up to it all.
 

Katheryne Helendale

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#15
Yup and the chaff has to be cut to EXACTLY match the kind of radar it's intended to jam - otherwise it has no effect whatsoever, it may as well not even be there. So when fighters and bombers are prepped for launch, the crew chief needs to basically anticipate what kinds of enemies are likely to be targeting it, and what's known about those radar systems, so they can pre-load the plane with the correct chaff charges. I mean at this point it's just like a table or checklist prolly, but a lot of intel and experimenting led up to it all.
True, glitter is probably not very effective against military radar applications. But it could possibly screw with laser tracking.
 

Ava Glasgow

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#16
Pretty sure it's hemorrhoid cream. Not sure if that counts as a cosmetic or a military application.
 

Casey Pelous

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#19
Yup and the chaff has to be cut to EXACTLY match the kind of radar it's intended to jam - otherwise it has no effect whatsoever, it may as well not even be there. So when fighters and bombers are prepped for launch, the crew chief needs to basically anticipate what kinds of enemies are likely to be targeting it, and what's known about those radar systems, so they can pre-load the plane with the correct chaff charges. I mean at this point it's just like a table or checklist prolly, but a lot of intel and experimenting led up to it all.
I'm certainly no expert on glitter manufacturing, but I rather imagine they could set up the machines to cut a variety of sizes.

My 100% uninformed opinion based on absolutely nothing, including even a vague notion of what glitter is actually made of, is therefore completely validated. TYVM.
 

Soen Eber

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#20
It's not glitter - it's unicorn dust!
And just so you know, nothing goes to waste from that exotic, rare animal. The non-glittery parts make a nutritious meal.


(if you buy this, shop around. ThinkGeek has it for $7, Amazon for $28)