I love to learn about the little known origins of everyday objects. After a while, extraordinary inventions become mundane aspects of everyday life, and all it takes sometimes is a little piece of history to give you new appreciation for the ordinary - and band-aids are about as ordinary as can be. Band-Aid is the Johnson & Johnson Company trademarked name for bandages. Prior to 1921, a bandage consisted on separate gauze and adhesive tape that was cut to size each time it was needed. Earle Dickson was a cotton buyer for Johnson & Johnson, and his wife was a passionate but clumsy culinary enthusiast. Josephine Dickson was always cutting her fingers in the kitchen, and Earle noticed that the gauze-and-tape bandages never stayed on very long. In an effort to help his wife, Earle invented a new bandage that would stay in place and protect small cuts. He took a piece of tape, attached gauze to the center, and covered it with crinoline to keep it sterile. When his boss, James Johnson, saw the invention, he decided to mass-produce the new band-aid - and he made Earle Dickson vice-president of the company. Sometimes good ideas just need the right opportunity, and the band-aid didn't become popular until Johnson & Johnson donated them to Boy Scout troops. So next time you're reaching for that mundane box of ordinary band-aids, remember Earle Dickson and his accident-prone wife.
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