Friday, September 20, 2019

Disposable Tissues

Kleenex, Tissue, Paper Towels, CleanMy father is one of those men who even today uses linen or cotton handkerchiefs rather paper tissues.  My mother has always washed and ironed them so they'd be fresh and ready for use. Historically, men always had handkerchiefs in pockets to use in cases of colds or sneezing but this all changed in the early 20th century.

Paper tissues or Kleenex came about when the company, Kimberly-Clark, decided to create a substitute for cotton during World War I.  Due to a shortage of cotton, companies and people searched for a substitute for use in surgical bandages in battle field medical facilities and hospitals.

Kimberly-Clark created a Cellucotton, an absorbent substitute for cotton. In addition to being used in surgical bandages, it was also used in gas masks as part of the filtration systems.  When the war ended, Kimberly-Clark had a huge surplus of Cellucotton and searched for ways to use it in civilian life.  The first product they marketed, in 1924, was a cold creme tissue they named the Kleenex Kerchief.  Using Hollywood stars to endorse the product as the best way to remove make-up, and its sales took off.  At this point, women began writing the company to complain their husbands kept blowing their noses into the cold creme tissues.

Due to all these letters, Kimberly-Clark carried out a test in Peoria, Illinois newspaper.  They placed two ads, one advertising tissues to remove cold cream while the other said it was a disposable handkerchief for noses.  The readers were asked to indicate which way they used the tissues and over 60 percent indicated they used it for their noses.

As a result of these results,  Kimberly-Clark began marketing their tissues in 1928 in perforated popup boxes much like we use now.  In addition, they also changed their advertising focus to the product being for noses, not cold creme and sales increased significantly. One year later, they introduced colored tissues for the first time so people had choices other than white.  In 1932, Kimberly-Clark introduced the small pocket sized packets to the public.  About this time, one of their researchers convinced the company to begin advertising these tissues as a way to prevent the spread of germs because it is the handkerchief that is thrown away.

In 1941, the company introduced its Kleenex Mansize tissue for men but then  World War II broke out.  This meant shortages resulting in a decrease in production of paper products so Kimberly-Clark changed the focus of tissue technology back to producing field bandages and dressing for the war effort.  This boosted their image in the eyes of the public and they continued producing tissues.

Four years after the war ended, Kimberly-Clark introduced Kleenex designed specifically to clean eye glasses.  As the sales of tissue continued to increase,  Kimberly-Clark became an official sponsor of the Perry Como show.  In the 1960's, the company began supporting daytime programming  to create more interest in the product.  They also introduced additional sizes of tissues to suit more people. Along the way, other companies entered the market with their versions but marketed under their own names such as Angel Soft, Puffs, and Scotties.

Over the next few decades, Kimberly-Clark introduced scented tissues, patterned tissues, and tissues impregnated with lotion for red noses or disinfectants to make them anti-viral.  If you ever wondered where the name Kleenex came from, it was a combination to two things.  The first Kleen a weird spelling of clean and the ending ex from another product they marketed, thus Kleenex.  Kleenex is a trade marked product but over time it has become the term used to refer to generic tissues.

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a good day.

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