What does the Cougar Mystique mean?
The “feel” of paper influences the perception of quality. This is nothing new, but it seems like there has been a lot of discussion on this topic recently. After 20 years of working for “that Cougar Mill”, as enthusiasts of the product are fond of calling it, I couldn’t agree more.
The Cougar Difference
I started my career with “that Cougar Mill” as part of the Technical Services team. It amazed me initially that printers could distinguish Cougar from other grades of paper just by feel. Maybe I’m oversimplifying a bit, but I was shown over and over again the attributes of Cougar that allowed the pressman to distinguish it from other sheets – before even putting ink on paper! That’s the Cougar Mystique.
The Cougar Sound
One of my earliest Tech Service visits was to an old print shop on Vessey Street in NYC – the area that was called “Printers Row”. The pressman brought me press side while grousing that his press helper had loaded the wrong paper. Why was he so certain? How could he tell now that the labels and product identifiers were gone? Standing press side, he had me listen as the loaded paper went through the press and transferred between the units. “See”, he said, “it doesn’t sound like Cougar”. And amazingly enough, once the Cougar was loaded into the press I could hear a difference in the sound the sheet made as the grippers transferred the sheet between press units. That’s the Cougar Mystique.
The Cougar Feel
A portion of the Cougar fiber is Sulfite Pulp. Sulfite pulping is no longer common in North America but we continue to utilize this process to help us make Cougar….Cougar! This pulp contributes to that Cougar feel that printers and their customers have come to expect. It’s one of those things that’s hard to describe, but you just know it when you feel it. One of my colleagues had described it as the Cougar “fondle factor”. It’s a combination of the surface feel and the way it sounds when you hold a sheet and shake it – the rattle.
The Cougar Look
Of course, the critical aspect of any paper is how it looks and how your printed images look when printed on it. Cougar has a smooth uniform surface and excellent formation. Both of these attributes are critical to printing high-quality images. Over the years we’ve done many blind evaluations of printed and unprinted papers. It is not unusual for Cougar to be selected as the preferred paper -based on the way it looks – even without ink!
Cougar Engages the Senses
Sight, Touch and Sound are all part of the Cougar experience. Consistency and reliability make it the go-to sheet for many printers. And, if ink on paper is not enough, Cougar is an excellent choice for further embellishments such as embossing, foil stamping, and die-cutting. Paper can be a medium for just sharing a message, but why settle for engaging only one of the senses when it is capable of so much more.