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Ivory Soap – History of an American Classic

I have so many different kinds and scents of soap and body wash in my bathrooms that I could probably open my own store with them! But, even with all of the choice I have, there are times when I really just want to step back in time and use a soap that is considered a classic in every way. That soap is Ivory. The clean smell and gentle lather remind me of my childhood, back when Ivory was THE soap to use.

I don't think there is anyone who hasn't used Ivory soap. It has remained popular for over 125 years, and that says a lot about the quality and the value of this soap. Generations of Americans have used this soap that is still considered to be bath time staple. The purity and mildness of this soap is unsurpassed. Remember those advertisements that proclaimed that Ivory was "99 – 44/100 percent pure"? That's still true today. Ivory is considered the most popular pure soap on the market. Ivory represents a more simple time, and the use of it can evoke fond memories in those who remember it from their childhood. It is memorable as the only soap that floats as well as for its gentle cleansing formula.

The formula for the soap was perfected in 1878, and introduced for the first time in 1879, selling for about ten cents per bar. While under development, it was simply called "white soap". The name was originally meant to be "P&G; White Soap" but Harley Proctor, who along with his business partner James Gamble created Ivory soap, wanted a name that people would remember. After trying, and failing, to come up with an appropriate name for the soap, Proctor decided on the name "Ivory" from a verse he heard from the Bible (Psalm 45) while sitting in church

With the name in place, production moved along with Ivory. One day, a worker went to lunch and left the soap making machinery running. Somehow, air worked its way into the soap mixture while it was unsupervised, making the finished product lighter than water. Once back from lunch, the worker noticed to his chagrin that the batch of soap was not as it should be. The company decided not to waste such a quantity of soap, and workers were instructed to continue processing and packaging it up. It was shipped out as usual, with the belief that such a small error would not be noticed. Unbeknownst to everyone, history had just been made.

People began to request more of "the soap that floated", and Procter and Gamble realized that the production mistake was going to help, and not hurt, their soap sales. It wasn't long before Ivory was a household name. It was advertised as being useful as both a laundry product and a bath bar.

A few Ivory facts –

In 1886, the first "Ivory Baby" appeared in magazines, reinforcing the simplicity and purity of the soap.

In 1891, "the soap that floats" became the first slogan for Ivory soap.

In 1896, the first full color magazine advertisement appeared in Cosmopolitan magazine.

In 1939, just a few months after television was introduced in America, the first ever commercial for Ivory aired during the historic first televised Brooklyn Dodgers/Cincinnati Reds game

In 1952, the popular soap opera "Guiding Light" aired for the first time, and showed Ivory advertisements during commercial breaks.

In the 1960s the original ivory generation campaign – 3 generations, mother, daughter, grandchild – who all use Ivory – was introduced in popular magazines of that period.

In 1976 Nominate an Ivory girl ad campaign was launched.

In 1979, the 100th anniversary of one of America's favorite brands, Ivory, was celebrated.

In 2004, Ivory Aloe was introduced. This was the first formula change for the product in 125 years.

In 2005, Procter and Gamble introduced Ivory Lavender body bar and wash as the third member of the Ivory family. The Ivory line now includes bar soap, liquid hand soap, body wash, and a mild laundry product usually used for babies called Ivory Snow.

Fun Ivory Trivia –

Ivory soap has such unique properties that when moistened with water and placed in a microwave (on a microwave safe plate) and heated on High for about 2 minutes, it expands into a huge, fluffy, cloud-like glob of soap. This is because of the water inside the soap. Microwaves heat from the inside out, and as the water heats up, it forms bubbles. The bar of soap also contains trapped air, which the heat causes to expand. Finally, the heat softens the soap. The combination of these three things causes a simple bar of soap to expand to 10 times its size or more!

Ivory will continue to be an American classic for many years to come.

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