Posts Tagged ‘Earl Dickson’

Band-Aid Freak!, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Band-Aid Freak!, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

I’m a Band-Aid® freak. I love Band-Aid® Brand Adhesive Bandages. I’m famous around the office for stocking a plentiful amount in the metal bin above my cube. Paper cut? No problem. Spider-Man, Batman or SpongeBob SquarePants to the rescue!

Band-Aid® Bandages were invented in 1920 by a New Jersey man named Earl Dickson. Earl worked as a cotton buyer for a small start-up company called Johnson & Johnson. His wife Josephine (formerly Josephine Frances Knight) was always picking up nicks and cuts in the kitchen. Earl invented a ready-made bandage by placing squares of cotton gauze at intervals along an adhesive strip and covering them with crinoline (petticoat material!).

First Poison Ivy Of The Year!, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.First Poison Ivy Of The Year!, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.First Poison Ivy Of The Year!, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

The Band-Aid® was born.

But the new product only sold a total of $3000 the first year. It was the Boy Scouts who put Band-Aid® on the map after an unlimited number of free Band-Aids® were distributed to Boy Scout troops across the country. The long history of innovation continued, and as of 2001, over 100 billion Band-Aid® Brand Bandages had rolled off the assembly line.

In the 1970’s,  John Travolta, Terri Garr, and Brooke Shields all appeared in Band-Aid® commercials. And remember that little jingle, I am stuck on Band-Aid® ’cause Band-Aid®‘s stuck on me? It was penned by Barry Manilow (and will surely get stuck in your head!). Barry did pretty well in the jingle business and is also responsible for Like a good neighbor…well, you know the rest.

Earl Dickson didn’t do too bad for himself either. Johnson & Johnson eventually made Dickson a vice president at the company, a position in which he remained until his retirement in 1957. He was also a member of the board of directors until his death in 1961. At the time of his death, Johnson & Johnson was selling over $30,000,000 worth of Band-Aids® each year.

As much as I love Band-Aids®, they weren’t the only invention of the 1920’s. It was a decade quick to embrace wild ideas and new technologies. Here’s a video and a short timeline of other 1920’s inventions:

               Crazy 1920’s Inventions from Aaron1912 on YouTube


  • Hair Dryer (1920)

Prior to 1920, woman dried their hair by inserting a hose in the exhaust of a vacuum cleaner and blowing themselves dry. But in 1920, hand held dryers were introduced by the US Racine Universal Motor Company (Wisconsin), and the Hamilton Beach Company.

  • Combustion Engine Car (1920)

Invented by Henry Ford, cars powered by combustion engines were affordable to the American public and mass produced. The ‘Model-T’ was the first car to roll off the assembly line. (If the price of gas is any indication, the love affair lives on!) 

  • Kool-Aid (1927)

Edwin Perkins of Hastings, Nebraska created the most important invention in American history: Kool-Aid (originally called Fruit Smack). Perkins was a chemist who owned “Perkins Product Company” which sold perfume and calling cards. The original Kool-Aid flavors? Cherry, Lemon-Lime, Grape, Orange, Root Beer, Strawberry, and Raspberry.

  • Liquid-Fueled Rocket (1926)

Robert Goddard’s liquid-fueled rocket and methods of propulsion are still used by the North American Space Association. His oxygen and liquid fuel lifted the original rocket 184 ft.

  • Q-Tips (1923)

Polish-born American Leo Gerstenzang was married to a woman who used to cotton swab each end of a stick to clean her baby’s ears. Leo took her innovation and put it on the market. Then called ‘Baby Gays”, the wood was replaced by white cardboard, and Gerstenzang started the “Infant Novelty Company” to sell Q-Tips.

  • Lie Detector (1921)

John A. Larson was a medical student at the University of California when he invented the Polygraph, or lie detector. The device measured heartbeat and breathing to determine if a person was lying, and later included a skin monitoring system to measure sweat.

  • Bread Slicer (1927)

Otto Frederick Rohwedder of Iowa got the idea for a bread slicer in 1912, and in 1927 invented a machine that could successfully cut and wrap a loaf of bread. The machine was later improved by baker Gustav Papendick.

  • Bulldozer (1923)

In 1885, engineer Benjamin Holt built a crawling tractor, which he called “caterpillar.” Later, scraping blades were attached and in 1923, LaPlant-Choate Manufacturing Company produced the first bulldozer.

  • Traffic Light (1920)

Police officer William Potts from Detroit, Michigan was the inventor of the traffic light. Using red, amber and green lights, and $37 worth of wire, he built a light for the corner of Woodward and Michigan Avenues in Detroit. Around the same time, African-American Garrett Morgan invented the automated traffic light. It worked the same way railroad lights work today and was the concept on which four way traffic lights were built.


History is pregnant with writing possibility. Pick a 1920’s invention — the combustion engine, the lie detector, the hair dryer — and write about how it changed the future.

Do a Writing Practice on the first childhood memory that comes to mind when you think of Kool-Aid, Band-Aids®, or Q-Tips.

Maybe you hate the feel of a Q-Tip in your ear; or maybe it’s something you look forward to after a morning shower. When’s the last time you tasted Kool-Aid? Did you know it was invented in Nebraska (along with CliffsNotes and the Vise-Grip)?

What’s the greatest thing ever invented? Ten minutes, Go!

-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

-related to post, If You Could Go Back In Time…

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