Friday, May 21, 2010

Hanky Panky

I was originally going to write this week's blog about hankies. You may think this is a bad topic for my blog, but it snot. (Sorry, couldn't resist!)

My Dad carried one his whole life (well, not the same one), as did just about all men of his generation. He lived in a pre-germaphobe society with no hang-ups over blowing your nose into a cloth and reusing it throughout the day. Users had no second thoughts about putting snot filled hankies into washing machines.

Men's hankies were typically large white squares of cotton fabric that were folded up and stuffed in their pockets. Women's 'handkerchiefs' often had embroidered edges and flowers. Some were monogrammed.

I ask you. Who would want to blow their nose into one of these? "Ick".

When I was a kid, I honed my ironing skills on my Dad's hankies. In fact, most of his hankies had brown triangular stains on them as a result. And I could make my Dad's hankies dance. Know how? By putting a little boogie in them.


As I was researching this topic I discovered that the history of Kleenex is a much more interesting topic than hankies.

In the 1920's, one of Kimberly-Clark's products was Kotex (without adhesive strips, as we all know). Because the topic of feminine pads was taboo, they were not able to successfully market the product and had an excess inventory of 'creped wadding'. They looked for another use for this fluffy material and in 1924 they developed a socially acceptable sister product they called Kleenex, which was positioned as a disposable cloth to be used for removing make up with cold cream.

Leave it to consumers to develop their own use for the product. By 1926 Kimberly-Clark began receiving letters from customers telling them that they used Kleenex as disposable handkerchiefs. The light bulb went off and the rest is history. Kleenex is now the number one facial tissue in the world and hankies are all but obsolete.

Thank goodness. On a related note, do you know the difference between boogers and broccoli?

Kids don't each broccoli.


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