HOW the LIFE SAVER got it’s HOLE /////////

                     HOW the CADILLAC got it’s FINS///////

                                         HOW the ..........etc.

Copyright 1994

 - Jack Mingo

B ack in 1912, chocolate maker Clarence Crane had a problem.

His chocolate didn’t ship well in hot weather, So candy stores ordered almost none between June and September of every year. To stay in business, Crane decided to develop a summer line: hard candy mints.

Crane’s factory wasn’t set up for making hard candy, so he hired a pill manufacturer for the job. Most mint candies at the time were square and pillow-shaped—and very expensive to produce. So Crane ordered his flat and round, with a hole in the middle, just to be different. “They look like little life-savers,” Crane said. Suddenly, the

mints had a name.

Still, for Crane the candies were only a sideline. When New York ad salesman Edward John Noble tried to persuade him to advertise the unique mints, Crane wasn’t Interested.  “You’d make a fortune!” Noble enthused. “Think so?” Crane replied. “You buy the brand.” For $2900, Noble did. -----and went to work.

Why sell only in candy shops? the salesman asked himself. He persuaded drugstores and restaurants to put the mints near the cash register with a big 5 cent card. “Be sure every customer gets a nickel with his change,” he told them. His marketing idea worked. Customers impulsively flipped their nickel back to the clerk, and Life Savers familiar little roll became one of the world’s best-selling candies.


 T O THE SONY ENGINEERS WHO DESIGNED IT, the Walkman was not quite what they wanted. They were aiming for something different—a new stereophonic version of Sony’s Pressman, a portable, mono tape recorder that had become a standard for journalists in the 1970s In 1978, Sony engineers started shrinking stereo components into the same chassis. They could fit in play-back parts and two tiny speakers, hut not the recording mechanism. Still, the sound quality was good, and the engineers started playing cassettes on the prototype while they worked.

One day Masaru Ibuka, Sony’s co-founder, wandered by and heard the small stereo. The innovative engineer recalled a project being developed elsewhere in the company----lightweight headphones. “What if you got rid of the speakers and combined your stereo with the headphones?” asked Ibuka. “The headphones would use less power and increase the quality of the sound.” The engineers listened politely. But

why make a tape recorder that couldn’t record? And who would want to listen to music through headphones?

Sony’s marketing department was also unenthusiastic. The 1979 roll-out was a low-budget affair aimed at teen-agers. Then yuppies discovered the new invention. Perfect for jogging or commuting, small enough to fit into a briefcase or the pocket of a business suit, the Walkman became a raging success.


 A PEN WITH A MARKING POINT “FREE TO REVOLVE IN ALL DIRECTIONS” was first patented in 1888 by John J. Loud of Massachusetts. In the next 30 years, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued 94 similar patents for pens with tiny balls to transport the ink from a reservoir onto the paper. But none of the inventors could get the ink to flow properly. Too thin and it blotched the paper. Too thick and the pens clogged.

In 1935, a young Hungarian newspaper editor named Lazlo Biro found himself cursing his fountain pen. Its sharp tip shredded the paper, whichsoaked up the ink like a sponge. With his brother Georg, a chemist, Lazlo decided to design a pen.      Lazlo and George tried dozens of designs, eventually coming up with a model that used capillary action instead of gravity—.siphoning the ink toward the point no matter what position the pen was held in. Even the new pens leaked, however, so it was left to Marcel Bich to make them a success.

This French manufacturer of parts for fountain pens and mechanical pencils was interested in the Biros’ pen and agreed to license their patent in Europe. Then, for two years, Bich bought samples of other ball-points on the market to discover their strengths and weaknesses. In 1949, Bich unveiled his triumph: a six-sided, inexpensive, clear plastic pen that wrote smoothly and didn’t leak or jam. Looking at the American market, Bich figured that his name would be a problem, so he modified the spelling. Billions of Bic pens have since been sold.


T HE PAPER CUPS NOW USED ALL AROUND THE WORLD were an accidental byproduct of a public-health campaign. In 1905, Kansas-born Hugh Moore traveled east to seek his fortune. He joined up with his brother-in-law, Lawrence Luellen, who had spent years inventing a coin-operated, water-dispensing machine. The machine needed disposable cups, so Luellen folded and glued some writing paper. The partners placed their vending machines on city streets, offering five ounces of water in a paper cup for one cent. But sales were slow because most towns had public water troughs with tin dippers attached from which anybody could drink, free.

Then Dr. Samuel Crumbine, a Kansas public-health officer, declared war on unsani-tary public drinking places. Telling lurid but accurate accounts of diseases like tuber-culosis that could be contracted from communal cups, Crumbine successfully lobbied Kansas to outlaw the dippers. About the same time, a study detailing the germs on school drinking glasses created a wave of panic. That’s when Moore decided to forget the water and sell just the disposable cup. The partners persuaded Cruinbine to recommend disposable cups as the answer to the germ problem. By 1912 the tin dipper was gone, replaced by Moore’s “Health Kups” in schools,

offices and trains. But he grew tired of the clinical-sounding Health Kup name. Inspired by the Dixie Doll Co. near his factory, Moore renamed his product Dixie Cups.


J OSEPHINE DICKSON, BRIDE OF JOHNSON & JOHNSON cotton buyer Earle Dickson, was something of a klutz. Each time she cut or burned her hands, Earle would patiently apply the dressings and surgical tape his company made and sold. The old-fashioned bandaging required two hands to apply, however, and Earle wasn’t always home to help. He determined, as he said later, “to devise some manner of bandage that would stay in place, be easily applied, and still retain its sterility.”

One day, he laid out a three-inch-wide strip of surgical tape on his kitchen table, sticky side up. He then ran gauze down the middle, leaving sticky tape showing on both sides. To keep the pad clean and the adhesive from drying out, he covered it with a piece of cloth. Should Mrs. Dickson injure herself, she could slice off a piece of Earle’s tape, remove the cloth and apply the dressing with one hand.

Dickson mentioned his invention to company president James Johnson, who quickly saw its potential. The first Band-Aid bandages were made by hand, in strips three inches wide by 18 inches long. Like poor Mrs. Dickson, the user was expected to cut off a piece   as needed. But in 1924, Johnson & Johnson came up with a machine that sliced the bandages into today’s familiar three-inch by three-quarter-inch size. The added convenience increased sales 50 percent in one year.


S OMETHING FUNNY HAPPENED WHEN GENERAL ELECTRIC began seeking a rubber-substitute during World War II. Chemical engineer James Wright combined silicone oil and boric acid in a test tube and was excited to see it turn into a gooey polymer. Wright tossed some on the counter. Boing! Boing. It bounced right back. With high hopes, GE sent globs of the substance to scientists around the world, but they couldn’t come up with any practical uses for it.

“Bouncing putty,” as GE dubbed it, languished in limbo. Around the same time, another scientist was discovering his own version of the putty. For that invention, Corning Glass Works was assigned the first patent in 1947. Eventually a sample of the putty ended up in the hands of marketing consultant Peter Hodgson, who coined the term “silly putty.” Borrowing $147.00, Hodgson bought a batch of the putty, packed it into plastic eggs and sold them as toys. Hodgson began selling hundreds of eggs a day. After a magazine ran an article featured the putty, orders for the eggs soared to the hundreds of thousands. Silly Putty, “the toy with one moving part,” was on its way to becoming a national mania.

Over the years, the world has discovered a few practical applications for Silly Putty. A type of it has been used at physical-therapy clinics to strengthen hands and improve joint mobility. It has also been used at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio to make casts of gorillas’ feet.


“How The Cadillac Got It’s Fins, And Other Tales

 From The Annals of Business and Marketing”

Copyright @ 1994 by: Jack Mingo

Published: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

10 E. 53rd Street, New York, N.Y. 10022

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