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Grocery bags on TV are specifically designed not to make noise

Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
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Much of the food we see onscreen isn’t real: Mashed potatoes sub in for ice cream; the beer is totally made up; etc. But it never occurred to us to think about the other food-adjacent props in movies, like plastic bags.

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Those plastic grocery bags, it turns out, are “fake,” too. Instead of the crinkly Thank You For Shopping-type we’d get at the grocery store, they’re made of a special material designed not to make any distracting noise.

According to the TV blog TV Overmind, some plastic bags we see onscreen were created by Tim Schultz, a Hollywood prop maker and creator of the business Proptrx. Silent Bags are the invention that launched his career 20 years ago, and he’s since designed “crinkle-discerning” bags that mimic restaurant doggie bags, manilla envelopes, crime scene bags, and of course, grocery bags.

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Immediately, we thought: Hey, why can’t all grocery bags be non-crinkling Then we realized those exist, and are called canvas totes. Right. So while this insight into onscreen props is a neat little gem we can’t wait to share with other screen-junkie friends, the knowledge does have a downside: From now on, we’ll never be able to watch a show without listening for the plastic bags’ noise—or lack thereof.

Kate Bernot is a freelance writer and a certified beer judge. She was previously managing editor at The Takeout.

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DISCUSSION

stilldeadpanandrebraugher
Still Deadpan Andre Braugher

Every sound you hear onscreen that isn’t people talking (and not always - that’s known as ADR or “Looping”) is put in later. Through the process of Foley editing. Bones breaking are often celery. Guns being cocked are actually can openers. Footsteps are various shoes being clipped by hand onto a tile or a cinder block or a sandbox.

Another thing done in the name of “clean sound” is replacing ice cubes with acrylic cubes purported to be noiseless. The problem is that those ice cubes often sink. Look at drinks in movies and TV. They are never right.