Play-Doh was originally used as a wallpaper cleaner. Further, the compound that eventually became Play-Doh debuted a full 22 years before Play-Doh hit the shelves. It also twice saved a failing company, Kutol, a Cincinnati based soap company. The woman who suggested the idea and name was given no credit in the patent nor any financial compensation. In addition to that, it took the help of one Captain Kangaroo to make it a national hit.
It all started with Kutol about to go under in the late 1920s. Cleo McVicker, just 21 years old, was tasked with selling off the company’s remaining assets, which at the time comprised mainly of powdered hand soap; once that was done, the company would be too. Cleo, however, managed to turn a nice profit in performing his task, the result of which was that the company managed to barely stay afloat. Cleo McVicker then hired his brother, Noah, and they set about trying to make the company viable again.
In 1933, Cleo was at a meeting with Kroger grocery stores when they asked if he made wallpaper cleaner. Wallpaper cleaner was a hot commodity as, at the time, coal was the leading way to heat one’s home, being much more efficient and cheaper than wood. This had the negative side effect of leaving soot everywhere, which was difficult to clean off of wallpaper as you couldn’t get it wet (this was before vinyl wallpaper).
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