Tuesday, July 01, 2008

From Candles to Soaps

 In 1879, Procter and Gamble's best seller was candles. But the company was in trouble. Thomas Edison had invented the light bulb, and it looked as if candles would become obsolete. Their fears became reality when the market for candles plummeted since they were now sold only forspecial occasions.

 The outlook appeared to be bleak for Procter and Gamble. However, at this time, it seemed that destiny played a dramatic part in pulling the struggling company from the clutches of bankruptcy.

 A forgetful employee at a small factory in Cincinnati forgot to turn off his machine when he went to lunch. The result? A frothing mass of lather filled with air bubbles. He almost threw the stuff away but instead decided to make it into soap. The soap floated. Thus, Ivory soap was born and became the mainstay of the Procter and Gamble Company.

 Why was soap that floats such a hot item at that time? In Cincinnati, during that period, some people bathed in the Ohio River. Floating soap would never sink and consequently never got lost. So, Ivory soap became a best seller in Ohio and eventually across the country also.

 Like Procter and Gamble, never give up when things go wrong or when seemingly unsurmountable problems arise.
Creativity put to work can change a problem and turn it into a gold mine.


  1. This is nothing but an urban legend.
    Check the wikipedia entry on ivory soap to clarify. heres an excerpt from that entry.
    "According to incorrect urban legend, a worker accidentally left the mixing machine on too long and the company chose to sell the supposedly ruined batch in hopes that the buying public wouldn't notice. When appreciative letters about the new, floating soap inundated the company, P&G ordered the extended mix time as a standard setting. However, company records indicate that the design of Ivory was not the result of accident. In 2004, P&G company archivist Ed Rider found documentation that revealed that chemist James N. Gamble discovered how to make the soap float. [1]"

  2. We tend to get carried away by fanciful information that excites. We should always check the authenticity of any info esp nowadays when it's so easy to fool people.

    Accuracy apart the post did well to drive home the message that one should never get upset with failures.