Simon digs into the origins of the superstitious number 13 and how our customers can improve their own luck.

Hello friends,
I hope you’ve had a great summer. I start to get nostalgic this time of year. Summer is my favorite season, and the end of summer was always a bittersweet time; the days start to get shorter and another school year begins. For me, that nostalgia also extends to my professional career as I recently celebrated 13 years working for BASF a few weeks ago.
The number 13 brings some interesting baggage. As you may recall from a Simon Says of yesteryear where I looked at the origins of the term ‘dog days of summer’, I like to geek out about not just packaging but also history and pop culture. According to a History Channel article, ironically originally published on September 13th 2013, around 10% of the US population has a fear of the number 13. There’s even a term for the fear of Friday the 13th, paraskevidekatriaphobia, which results in an estimated $800 million in economic losses incurred on the ominous day as people avoid planning weddings, delay travel, or even skip work.
Negative references to the number 13 go back a long way. There are varied theories on the exact origin story of the iconic number’s fall from grace. In Norse Mythology, Loki, the god of mischief, sneaks in as the thirteenth guest at a banquet in Valhalla where, through deception, he contributes to the killing of Balder, the god of light, joy, and goodness, unleashing evil and turmoil into the world. In the bible, Judas Iscariot, who betrays Jesus, is the thirteenth guest to arrive at the last supper.

While 12 was often considered the ‘perfect number’ in the ancient world and the basis for numeral systems, 12-month calendars and two 12-hour half days, 13 was therefore seen as lacking and unusual…perhaps the superstition grew from there. No matter the basis, by Victorian times the superstition was well documented and has certainly retained its prominence in many cultures today.
With significant contributions from our Joncryl® portfolio into the inks and coatings industry, BASF has become a major supplier to our customers through more than just luck. To craft the most eye-catching and beautiful inks that set products apart on the shelf, the industry has looked to Joncryl products for decades.

For important brand colors that must be just right, why take the risk of being unlucky by choosing lower performing or less proven technologies? For sensitive applications where food contact and regulatory compliance are a must, it makes sense to use our broad portfolio of compliant and high performing solutions. You can certainly improve your luck when we partner to solve industry challenges with our proven performance, consistent quality, and forward-looking innovation.

As I have rounded the curve and moved into my fourteenth year, I can look back positively on my thirteenth year with BASF happy not to have faced a perilous fate to accompany the ominous anniversary; or am I jinxing myself by writing that down? Perhaps I need to stay on guard, especially with another Friday the 13th coming up in October.
Best of luck.

Read more print and packaging insights from our Head of Global Marketing, Resins for Paper, Simon Foster.  

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