Letters to the Editor 2019

To the Editor: 

Many consumer products were originally intended for a special purpose and then later became popular for other reasons.

For instance, Ben Franklin, as most of you know, designed a stove with clever flues and air vents that helped reduce heat loss up the chimney. That was not how it was advertised when he merchandized it in 1742.

He claimed his stove would “suppress aging of women’s faces caused by harsh hot air.” However, we all know that it sold as a better and cheaper way to heat your home while most people forget about Franklin’s original advertising technique.

Levi’s blue jeans, made for the California gold rush, were made for the specific purpose of helping those who were panning for gold. They were not designed for style or fashion, as most young people today would have you believe.

Why else were they made with hemp sailcloth and rivets so the pockets wouldn’t rip when filled with gold? However, have you noticed how much they sell for today? You will need lots of gold dust to accrue a wardrobe of Levi products.

In 1886, a young Atlanta pharmacist came up with a concoction he called Coca–Cola. Originally, it was sold as a mouthwash and gargle guaranteed to “whiten your teeth, cleanse the mouth and help cure tender and bleeding gums.”

When his mouthwash marketing failed, the pharmacist began touting it as a family beverage to “taste and swallow.” One problem with his new strategy was the substantial amount of cocaine in the drink (hence the name).

No problem there, the formula was altered in 1903 and the new label stated, “Cocaine Removed.” What a name change can do to help push a product to become the number one soft drink beverage world–wide.

The typewriter almost did not come about because it was presented as a machine to be used at home; hence it was enclosed in a wooden cabinet much like the home sewing machine of the 1870s. The first typewriter keys often jammed because of the hand speed of the users.

When the keyboard was readjusted to slow down the typist, it became much more “friendly” to the business world. In 1876, it was touted as being “to the pen what the sewing machine was to the needle.”

Trial and error, along with input from the business world and everyday consumer, has helped to produce many of the machines we take for granted around the house and workplace.