Thursday April 15, 2021’s Smile of the Day: Ivory Soap

On this Day:

In 1878, Harley Procter introduced Ivory Soap.

In 1840, the J.B. Williams Company in Glastonbury, Connecticut, manufactured soap under the name Ivorine. Williams decided to focus on its shaving soap and sold Ivorine to Procter & Gamble, which later developed Ivory.

In 1879, James Norris Gamble, son of one founder and a trained chemist, developed an inexpensive white soap. The name Ivory was created by Harley Procter, the other founder’s son, who was inspired by the line, “[a]ll thy garments smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia out of the ivory palaces”, from the Bible’s 45th Psalm. In September 1879, Procter & Gamble trademarked “Ivory” as the name of its new soap product.

As Ivory is one of P&G’s oldest products (first sold in 1879), P&G is sometimes called “Ivory Towers”, and its factory and research center in St. Bernard, Ohio, is named “Ivorydale”.

Ivory’s first slogan, “It Floats!”, was introduced in 1891. The product’s other well-known slogan, “99 44⁄100% Pure” (in use by 1895), was based on the results of an analysis by an independent laboratory that Harley Procter hired to demonstrate that Ivory was purer than the castile soap available at the time.

Ivory bar soap is whipped with air in its production and floats in water. According to an apocryphal story, later discounted by the company, a worker accidentally left the mixing machine on too long, and the company chose to sell the “ruined” batch because the added air did not change the basic ingredients of the soap. When appreciative letters about the new, floating soap inundated the company, P&G ordered the extended mix time as a standard procedure. However, company records indicate that the design of Ivory did not come about by accident. In 2004, over 100 years later, the P&G company archivist Ed Rider found documentation that revealed that chemist James N. Gamble, son of the other founder, had discovered how to make the soap float and noted the result in his writings.

In October 1992, Procter & Gamble market-tested a new Ivory formula, a “skin care bar” that would address customer complaints about dryness but would not float like the original. In October 2001, P&G tested the sinking bar soap as part of an advertising campaign in the United States, in a six-month plan to release 1,051 soap bars that sink, among other bars that float, to see if people would notice the sinking bars, even if given a cash reward of up to $250,000. The D. L. Blair company, part of Draft Worldwide, a unit of the Interpublic Group of Companies, was assigned to administer the contest.

[Editor: A link to the New York Times article regarding the advertising campaign can be found here:]

In the Philippines, Ivory has existed as a shampoo and soap brand since 1986 until it was discontinued in 1999 as Ivory Ultra Mild Shampoo Sachet.

Ivory is currently a small brand by P&G standards. The Ivory brand includes the classic bar soap, clear liquid soap (discontinued before 2016), hair & body wash, dish liquid, and a mild laundry detergent (not a soap) product called Ivory Snow. Research in 2001 by Lehman Brothers revealed that the U.S. sales of all Ivory products, including the liquid soap and dish detergent, represented less than 1% of P&G’s total worldwide sales in the 52 weeks ended September 9, 2001 (per Wikipedia).

First, a Story:

What do elephants use to clean their tusks?  Ivory Soap of course…

Second, a Song:

I am sure that the question that is absolutely at the top of your mind right now is: “What would happen if I placed a bar of Ivory Soap inside a microwave oven and turned it on?”

Steve Mould (born 5 October 1978) is a British educational YouTuber, author, and science presenter who is most notable for making educational, science-related videos on his YouTube channel.

Mould was born on 5 October 1978 in Gateshead, United Kingdom. He went to St Thomas More Catholic School, Blaydon before going on to study physics at Oxford University.

In 2014, Mould co-hosted ITV’s I Never Knew That About Britain alongside Paul Martin and Suzannah Lipscomb. He has also appeared as a science expert on The Alan Titchmarsh Show, The One Show and Blue Peter.

Steve Mould explaining the self-siphoning chain fountain at the 2015 Cambridge Science Festival

Mould’s YouTube video, in which he demonstrated the phenomenon of self-siphoning beads and proposed an explanation, brought the problem to the attention of academics John Biggins and Mark Warner of Cambridge University, who published their findings about what has now been called “chain fountain” in Proceedings of the Royal Society A. It’s sometimes called ‘The Mould Effect’ in some internet articles.

Between 2008 and 2010, Mould performed three geeky sketch shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with Gemma Arrowsmith. Since 2011, Steve has performed live science comedy as part of the comedic trio Festival of the Spoken Nerd, with mathematician Matt Parker and physicist songstress Helen Arney. Festival of the Spoken Nerd has performed at theatres, science and arts festivals.

Here is Steve Mould demonstrating exactly what happens when you microwave Ivory Soap. I hope you enjoy this!


Thought for the Day:

“Soap and water and common sense are the best disinfectants.” – William Osler

In response to the Edgar Allan Poe Smile:

Gerry Wahl of North Vancouver, BC, Canada writes:

“That is such terribly poe joke …’s so poe”


Bill MacLeod of Vancouver, BC, Canada writes:

“Phil Ochs was a fan of Poe.

Here he adapts one of his poems-

[Editor: Philip David Ochs (December 19, 1940 – April 9, 1976) was an American protest singer (or, as he preferred, a topical singer) and songwriter who was known for his sharp wit, sardonic humor, political activism, often alliterative lyrics, and distinctive voice. He wrote hundreds of songs in the 1960s and 1970s and released eight albums.

Ochs performed at many political events during the 1960s counterculture era, including anti-Vietnam War and civil rights rallies, student events, and organized labor events over the course of his career, in addition to many concert appearances at such venues as New York City’s Town Hall and Carnegie Hall. Politically, Ochs described himself as a “left social democrat” who became an “early revolutionary” after the protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago led to a police riot, which had a profound effect on his state of mind.

After years of prolific writing in the 1960s, Ochs’s mental stability declined in the 1970s. He eventually succumbed to a number of problems including bipolar disorder and alcoholism, and died by suicide in 1976.

Ochs’s influences included Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, Bob Gibson, Faron Young, and Merle Haggard. His best-known songs include “I Ain’t Marching Anymore”, “Changes”, “Crucifixion”, “Draft Dodger Rag”, “Love Me, I’m a Liberal”, “Outside of a Small Circle of Friends”, “Power and the Glory”, “There but for Fortune”, and “The War Is Over”.


Have a great day!

Dave & Colleen

© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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