Welcome to an infrequent little off-shoot of your regular programing. The Let Me Remind You (Quickly)… will be just a shorter read compared to the regular one. A tid bit of knowledge, if you will. Enjoy.
Let me remind you (quickly)… about Play-Doh.
If there’s two things that we don’t use a lot of these days in our homes, it’s wallpaper and coal. But back in the early 1900’s and before, it was common to heat one’s home with a coal-fed boiler or furnace, or even cook over a coal cooking-range.
Unfortunately, a by-product of all the coal usage (aside from the asbestos and lung cancer) was soot on the walls. It wasn’t easy to clean off either as you can imagine, and if you’ve ever tried to use a wet rag on wallpaper, you will have found out fairly quickly that you shouldn’t… unless you want rubbed off bits of paper.
What people would use, though, was a compound clay or putty that could be balled up and either rubbed on the walls or rolled over the area with the soot to clean it up.
This product was the money maker for the 1912 Cincinnati soap-making company called Kutol, owned by Noah McVicker. But after WWII when natural gas options for heating were adopted more widely used in residential homes, along with the transition from wallpaper to other materials, including paint or a washable vinyl material, the Kutol Products Company started to become obsolete; their biggest asset was no longer needed.
Noah called on his nephew, Joe McVicker to come help save the company from becoming bankrupt, but what he got was something he least expected. Joe’s sister-in-law, Kay Zufall, a school teacher for young kids read an article about using this wall-cleaning putty as a kids craft for molding things into different shapes (sound familiar?). When she brought it to her school and the kids loved it so much, she took the formal idea to Joe and it was a hit.
Originally Joe wanted to call it, “Rainbow modelling compound”. But luckily Kay swayed him in to calling it “Play-Doh”.
In 1956, McVickers took it to a school supplier and some trade shows here and there. By 1958 they made over 3 MILLION dollars (over $77 million today!). General mills originally bought Play Doh from McVickers for the 3 million shortly after, but since then its traded many hands and now resides in the palms of Hasboro.
Did You Know: Play-Doh’s scent is trademarked?