It’s a Christmas tradition. For the last 36 years my family and I have gotten a “real” Christmas tree. Some years we bought one precut from the tree lot. Lately we’ve gone out to cut our own. We’ve had Scotch Pine, Blue Spruce, Concolor, and this year for the first time, Frasier Fir. No matter what the tree, no matter where we’ve gotten it, one thing remains constant: we always drop the 3 x 5 slip of kling into the tree stand water. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without kling.
So what is kling anyway? All these years the Christmas tree seller folks convinced us we need kling in order to have a safe, beautiful Christmas tree. Every year the clerk at the tree farm solemnly hands me the kling paper and says “Be sure to put this in the water for your tree. It keeps the tree fresh.” So how does kling work anyway? Or does kling work? For all we know, kling might just be a slip of red and green paper with no special properties whatsoever. It could be the equivalent of elephant repellent. A well-orchestrated ruse fabricated by the tailor of the emperor’s new clothes. The folks at the kling factory may sit around every December 26th, drinking Budweiser and laughing about how they pulled off another year of selling tree farmers batches of useless paper. It’s time to find out. kling – genuine tree preservative, or genuine Christmas hoax?
So how does one go about finding out what really is in kling? It’s a well-guarded secret. I started with the slip of kling paper itself. No help here. It’s a simple red and green paper picturing a Christmas tree and Santa. On one side Santa proclaims “kling makes your Christmas tree last longer!” Underneath are the simple instructions – select a fresh tree, keep the water stand full, drop kling in the water. The other side shows Santa proclaiming “Use kling at Christmas. It preserves your tree,” followed by general instructions for recycling your Christmas tree back to nature. And at the bottom, the requisite disclaimer “Not for consumption.” for those who were thinking about eating their slip of kling. Not much help here. No ingredients listed. No explanation or folksy story. But it is endorsed by Santa. Next, I went where everyone goes for answers – the internet.
The web site for Forrest Products LLC, the makers of kling, is strangely uninformative regarding kling’s mechanism of action. It gives pricing information, ($85.00 for 1,000 kling sheets), testimonials (“My customers swear by these”) and other general information to encourage people to use kling. (“Millions of kling cards have been used in the past 50 seasons.”)
So darn it, is anybody going to tell me what kling is and how it works? Must I conduct my own experiment by having two Christmas trees, one with kling and one without, in order to find the answer? Well, it turns out the answer is there after all. Straight from the makers of kling under the tab labeled “kling” of course, is the explanation of kling’s success.
“kling cards are impregnated with a product, that when absorbed by the tree with water from the tree stand, greatly reduces needle drop. Briefly, kling delays the formation of the abscission layer that forms between the parent twig and each needle. Once formed, the abscission layer cuts off the supply of water to the needle. Thus, kling prolongs the water supply and improves needle retention.” http://www.forestproductsllc.com/kling.html
Makes sense. kling is impregnated with a “product.” What is the freaking product? No clue. Guess we’ll never know. And kling delays the formation of the abscission layer. Abscission layer? Really? Sounds plausible, scientific, yet somewhat nebulous and mysterious. But hey, endorsed by Santa, a 50-year tradition, why wouldn’t everyone want to use kling? I wonder if it keeps the elephants away too?
(To the makers of kling: I’m sure your product is great but I couldn’t resist a little Christmas satire. Thanks for 50 years of keeping our trees fresh!)
Photo credit: http://www.forestproductsllc.com/kling.html
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