proctor and gamble

William Proctor, an English migrant and candlemaker, and James Gamble, a soapmaker from Ireland, met and married two sisters, Olivia and Elizabeth Norris.

Their father in law, Alexander Norris, persuaded the two men to set up a business together, and Proctor and Gamble was born, selling soap and candles in 1837, in Cincinnati.

By 1859, sales reached $1m, and the company boasted 80 employees.

Proctor and Gamble supplied soap and candles to Union armies during the Civil War.

ivory soap

In 1879, James Gamble's son James, developed a cheap white soap, later known as Ivory soap, to compete with the imported Castile soaps from Europe.

It is claimed that the Ivory name came from a biblical reference to "ivory palaces".

Ivory soap was marketed as "soap that floats", and it is credited with a soapmaker at the company neglecting to turn off the soap mixer, or "crutcher" when he went for his lunch break.

Air was whipped into the soap, making it float in the bathwater.

The soapmaker, fearing reprisals, said nothing, and the soap was sold, unbeknown to the company.

Customers were soon asking for more of the soap that floated.

Ivory soap was advertised nationally in 1882, in a weekly newspaper, the Independent.

Proctor and Gamble introduced a profit sharing program for workers, in 1887, in an effort to stem union unrest and dissatisfied workers.

The program was instigated by William Cooper Proctor, grandson of William Proctor, and by 1890, he led the company, which was now selling more than 30 different types of soap.

The company also opened a site in Kansas, then another in Canada.

Ivory flakes were introduced to wash clothing and dishes, then another soap powder was developed to use in washing machines.

new products

Proctor and Gamble also claim to have made the first household synthetic detergent, and a vegetable shortening called Crisco, which is still popular today.

These products were marketed through soap operas, and the advertising industry owes much to soap companies for its development.

Many soap companies sponsored "soap operas", which began their life on radio. Regular listeners of Proctor and Gamble sponsored soap operas became loyal buyers of Proctor and Gamble products.

William Cooper Proctor, became the head of Proctor and Gamble in 1907 after his father, William Alexander Proctor, died.

In 1926, Camay, was introduced to the market, and William Cooper Proctor handed the running of the company over to Richard R. Deupree, in 1930.

The first synthetic household detergent, Dreft, was introduced in 1933.

In 1935 Proctor and Gamble acquired the Philippine Manufacturing Company, in the Far East.

In 1946, the company introduced Tide, a synthetic laundry detergent that could clean even heavily soiled clothing, and it is claimed that Tide outsold every other detergent brand within weeks of its introduction.

Each year, researchers still wash 50,000 loads of laundry in an effort to improve performance.

The company's first fluoride toothpaste, Crest, was introduced in 1955 and endorsement by the American Dental Association led to Crest becoming a market leader.

Pampers disposable nappies were invented in 1961, to accompany the company's toilet paper and paper towel products.

Other products included Downy, a fabric softener, introduced in 1960, and Folger's coffee in 1963.

Proctor and Gamble began operations in Mexico, Europe and Japan. By 1980, the company was trading in 23 countries.

The company acquired Norwich Eaton Pharmaceuticals in 1982, Richardson-Vicks in 1985, and Noxell, Max Factor and Ellen Betrix in the late 1980's and early 1990's.

Brands such as Pantene shampoo, Oil of Olay, Cover Girl cosmetics, Old Spice, Giorgio Beverly Hills fragrances, Pringles, Tampax, Whisper, Iams petfood and several pharmaceutical products are now sold under the Proctor and Gamble stable.

Redgum Soaps is in no way connected with any of the companies we have featured on these pages. We have included the information for the purposes of soapmaking history only, in an attempt to preserve some of the information that is rapidly being lost.