This one will run and run

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The Independent Culture
The BIC biro, design icon of the 1950s, has been redesigned for the first time. Appearance-wise the new BIC (left) looks none too different; but that chewy plastic plug at the end, nibbled down the years by schoolchildren and executives alike, ha s been sonically welded down so that not even the most angst-ridden molar can pry it loose. Claude and Bruno Bich, sons of the original BIC man, Baron Marcel Bich, decided that plug removal would add to "the overall integrity of the pen", according to a spokesman. Safety, too, was an issue in the plug's fixed future - "we didn't want people chewing it off and choking".

Baron Bich was an 18-year-old pen parts manufacturer with no capital at the end of the Second World War. He saw a potential market for a low-price quality pen and, after two years, had developed the BIC. A 1949 French advertising campaign with the slogan"it runs, it runs" had astonishing success, and by 1959 Americans were watching commericals showing a BIC pen being fired from a rifle and strapped to an ice skate. Now, the BIC empire sells 15 million pens worldwide per day, none retailing at more than20p each. Seems reasonable for a pen which is claimed to be made to tolerances as fine as any engine for Concorde. "Our product can easily claim to be the most successful pen in the history of mankind's love affair with writing instruments," they boast.

The new design starts distribution this month; by 1996 the tasty plug will be a distant memory