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The Utterly Delightful Site Devoted To Classifying Plastic Bread Tags

Recently, I’ve been spending time accumulating the plastic tags from bagged pastries and sorting them into little Latin-named piles like Palpatophora utiliformis and Tridentidae.

It’s an exercise that appears to benefit a *document scratch* *freeze body*: You’re in all probability questioning how I received into this example.

It began one snowy winter night time after i stumbled upon HORG.com, whose house display options an official-looking seal bearing a drawing of a bread tag — one of many plastic ones groceries use to maintain luggage closed — and the Latin phrase Fiat Divisa Panem (loosely translated: «Let it’s sliced bread»).

HORG stands for Holotypic Occlupanid Analysis Group. It is a self-described «database of synthetic taxonomy» devoted to plastic bread tags, referred to on the positioning as occlupanids (this derives from occlu, which means «close,» and pan, which means «bread»).

It classifies the bread tags into 17 totally different households, with names like Haplognathidae and Mycognathidae, and further divides the doodads by genus and species, 筑後 ランチ for a complete of 208 distinct varieties (excluding the «Pseudo-occlupanids,» which have a «hotly contested» taxon that some «occlupanologists» discover it «too shut for cladistic comfort.»)

Some are huge in Japan; others are present in «a refrigerated niche» and «may choose cooler environments.» My favorite is the Spinosacculidae, a rare purple one found near Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe with an «oral groove» that resembles a turtle.

HORG hovers between earnest scientific endeavor and elaborate hoax. The species descriptions take on the formal tone of a subject notebook, save for a few playful winks. Take the description for Eurycomplector labiopictus, that are printed with little footage of lips: «The splotch-like markings… could certainly be some type of camouflage, akin to the spots on a leopard.»

HORG presents itself as some distinguished assortment of scientists, however in reality, the «Board of Taxonomy» is just John Daniel, a 50-one thing San Francisco Bay Space computer graphics and visualization specialist who has meticulously catalogued plastic detritus since 1994. In faculty, he studied vertebrate zoology and sculpture. Whereas he’s not a practicing biologist, he tells me that he’s «absolutely obsessed with the pure world.»

«Paying attention to issues which can be ignored, unloved, or outright detested is something that I discover interesting — something from ticks to butterflies to earwigs,» Daniel says via Zoom from his house workplace, where he’s proudly hung a framed display of occlupanids.

Like most of us, he’d encountered bread tags his entire life. However he didn’t see them — actually see them — until he was 24 and noticed «this little plastic doodad» on the ground of someone’s house. «It actually struck me how weirdly biomorphic it looks, like a larval parasite with claws,» he says. «Why does no one discover these items?»

At that second, «the blinders came off,» he says. «I started seeing them everywhere.» Taxonomizing the items of trash was his «natural subsequent step.» A good friend gave him the URL HORG.com — he prefers the snappier HORG.org, but to his chagrin, someone’s been sitting on it — and he used his rudimentary HTML abilities to cobble together a site whose design has barely changed over the a long time.

World collection

Immediately he’s acquired a collection of occlupanids contributed by fans from around the world. Daniel admits that sure areas are underrepresented, including China and a few components of the African continent. And he doesn’t get many occlupanid samples from countries that don’t have quite a lot of processed bread, like France. (Within the U.Okay., the tags are literally banned as a result of ingestion dangers.)

At its core, HORG is about curiosity and appreciation for man-made detritus. Daniel earns no money from his endeavor — all proceeds from T-shirt sales go to the international Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections — however he has gained a small measure of fame.

The phrase occlupanid made it into a 2010 NPR quiz show, and New Zealand’s Wellington Marine Museum and Analysis Station as soon as named occlupanids its «critter of the week.» As a result of sure occlupanids usually tend to grip onto the intestines if ingested, medical researchers used Daniel’s classifications in a 2011 peer-reviewed educational article, crediting him as co-creator.

Occlupantology is contagious. Fans have organized a tightknit Discord and the r/occlupanid subreddit, which has greater than 1,200 members. Then there are his audience’s snail mail letters — Daniel will get 20 a month, some of them accompanied by occlupanid samples. «It’s most likely the most great factor in the world,» Daniel says of the letters. He replies to each on HORG letterhead.

I ask him why people should care about occlupanids. He pauses. «That’s a tough one,» he says, before stating the human affinity for categorizing things. As for different on a regular basis items he’d wish to see categorised? Daniel points to single-use flossers. «They’re so biomorphic, most likely as a result of they’re meant to be touched by human arms,» he says. «So they’ve developed into these strange shapes.»

To me, HORG’s impracticality is strictly what makes it delightful: As other corners of the web devolved into a noisy company hellscape, this straightforward site remained dedicated to the noble, pointless pursuit of taxonomizing pieces of trash. It isn’t trying to be something aside from what it is.

Today, I discover every occlupanid I see, and sometimes I can even label them. I additionally discover myself paying extra consideration to the opposite overlooked «creatures» of the Anthropocene — zip ties, wristbands, and the like. The habit of noticing the stuff of the real world, especially when my eyes are skilled on a screen many of the day, has been a most fantastic reward.

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