Jo-Ann Boepple: A brand by any other name would smell as sweet

Published 5:14 pm Thursday, July 7, 2011

Isn’t it funny how we often use brand names for products and they become so associated with that product that we can’t distinguish them from their actual name?

boeppleFor instance, think about the words Thermos, Kleenex, Band-Aids, Q-tips, Crock-Pot and ChapStick. These are a few terms that are genericized trademarks.

A vacuum flask called a Thermos is a storage vessel that provides “thermal insulation by interposing a partial vacuum between the contents and the ambient environment. The evacuated region of the partial vacuum removes material that could serve as a heat conductor or carrier, enabling the flask to keep its contents hotter or cooler than its surroundings.“

The vacuum flask was invented by Scottish physicist and chemist Sir James Dewar in 1892. The first vacuum flasks for commercial use were made in 1904 when a German company, Thermos GmbH, was formed. Thermos, their trademark for their flasks was declared a genericized trademark in the U.S. in 1963 as it is synonymous with vacuum flasks in general.

The Kimberly-Clark Corp. created the first Western facial tissue in 1924  and originally marketed them as a way to remove cold cream or makeup remover for movie stars. It was a disposable substitute for face towels. By the 1930s, Kleenex was being marketed with the slogan “Don’t Carry a Cold in Your Pocket” and its use as a disposable handkerchief replacement became predominant.

The Band-Aid was invented in 1920 by Earle Dickson, an employee of Johnson & Johnson, for his wife Josephine Dickson, who frequently cut and burned herself while cooking. The prototype product allowed his wife to dress her wounds without assistance. Dickson passed the idea on to his employer who then went on to produce and market the product as the Band-Aid.

The first bandages produced were hand-made and not very popular. By 1924, Johnson & Johnson introduced the first machine that produced sterilized Band-Aids. The original cost of Band-Aids was 2 cents for a pack of 15.

The products long running commercial jingle “I’m Stuck on Band-Aid” was written by singer Barry Manilow.

Cotton swabs consist of a small wad of cotton wrapped around one or both ends of a short rod, usually made of either wood, rolled paper or plastic. They are commonly used in a variety of applications including first aid, cosmetics application, cleaning and arts and crafts. The cotton swab was invented in the 1920s by Leo Gerstenzang after he attached wads of cotton to toothpicks. His product, which he named “Baby Gays,” went on to become the most widely sold brand name, Q-tips, with the Q standing for “quality.”

A slow cooker  is a countertop electrical cooking appliance that allows moist-heat cooking method of simmering which requires maintaining a relatively low temperature compared to other cooking methods for many hours allowing unattended cooking of pot roast, stew and other suitable dishes.

The Naxon Utilities Corp. of Chicago developed the Naxon Beanery All-Purpose Cooker. The Rival Co. bought Naxon in 1970 and reintroduced it under the Crock-Pot name in 1971.

In the early 1880s, Dr. Charles Browne Fleet, a physician and pharmacological thinker, invented ChapStick as a lip balm. The handmade product, which resembled a wickless candle wrapped in tin foil, was sold locally, but did not have much success.

In 1912, John Morton bought the rights to the product for $5. In their family kitchen, Mrs. Morton melted the pink ChapStick mixture, cooled it and cut it into sticks. In the early 1930s, Frank Wright, Jr., a commercial artist from Lynchburg, Va., was commissioned to design the ChapStick logo that is still in use today. He was paid a flat fee of $15.

In 1963, The A.H. Robins Co. acquired ChapStick from Morton Manufacturing Corp. Robins was purchased by American Home Products in 1988. AHP later changed its name to Wyeth. ChapStick was a Wyeth product until 2009, when Wyeth was acquired by Pfizer.

The history facts for this column came from Wikipedia on the Internet.

If you want to genericized the names of your friends you might try Froot Loops, Twinkies or yo-yo. I know plenty of these.