Appreciating all that makes America special

Americana: Band-Aids

Band-Aids were developed by a buyer at Johnson & Johnson whose wife kept cutting and burning her hands while fixing dinner. Necessity is the nurse of invention. Uploaded by

I wish I had a dollar for every Band-Aid that covered my skin during my childhood. Kids and Band-Aids are made for each other. While people of all ages can experience scrapes, cuts, bruises, and burns, it’s hard to imagine raising a child without Band-Aids in the medicine cabinet.

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The first Band-Aids were handmade back in 1920 by Earle Dickson of New Brunswick, New Jersey. Earle’s wife was apparently a klutz in the kitchen, and Earle wasn’t fond of having dinner served by a wife whose hands were cut and burned. Fortunately for Mrs. D., Earle worked for a company called Johnson & Johnson. He developed a strip of adhesive with cotton gauze at regular intervals. The product didn’t take off at first – maybe because the bandages were three inches wide and eighteen inches long.

J&J made improvements over the years. The little red wrapper string made its appearance in 1924…the bandages were finally completely sterile in 1938…the strips became plastic in 1951…and antibiotic ointment on the pad became an option in 1997.

Two things worth noting. They used to sting more when they were pulled off than they do now, but that ouch factor isn’t completely gone. Not much J&J can do about that. And the Band-Aids name is a registered trademark of Johnson & Johnson.


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