Invention of play doh!


Mom : Hey! Saaransh clear your things, its sleeping time.

Saaransh : Yes, after the story

Mom : Hmmm

Saaransh : Mom let me do clay modelling for some more time.

Mom : You can continue tomorrow.

Saaransh : Ok, which story will you tell me today?

Mom : Today’s story is about your play doh.

Saaransh : Yay!!!

Mom : There was a soap making company called Kutol products in Cincinnati, U.S. It was a family business of brothers Cleo & Noah McVicker. The company was close to going out of business. Cleo cracked a comparatively big deal with Kroger’s grocery stores. The deal was, Kutol products would provide the required quantity of wallpaper cleaner to the Kroger’s stores and if they fail, they had to pay hefty penalty. During that time coal-based room heaters were in use. These heaters would create a layer of soot on the walls. This used to give untidy look to the house. There was a need of wallpaper cleaner at that time.

Kutol neither did have that product with them nor they were developing it. It was a do or die situation. Noah McVicker developed product based on household formula of cleaning wall paper. It was made using materials like flour, salt and water along with surfactants known as Putty. The putty was non-toxic, malleable and reusable.

Saaransh : Mom, what is malleable?

Mom : Malleable means capable of being reshaped with some pressure.

This product soon became a hit. The company flourished and survived for almost 20 years.

Soon after world war II, natural gas replaced the coal in room heaters. Now there was no need of Putty, wall paper cleaner anymore.

Again, it became a challenge for survival of the company for Noah and now Joseph, son of Cleo.

Here came the unsung hero of the story; Ms. Kay Zufall, a school teacher. She read the article in news paper about the art projects using wallpaper cleaning putty. She gave her students Putty to perform art activity. Looking at the engrossed children she had this captivating idea of using putty for kids’ products. She renamed the product as Play doh.

Joseph visited her school to see how catchy the idea can be with kids. He reformulated and repurposed the product they were already making using the same set up. Only this time the end product was child’s toy instead of wallpaper cleaner. He formed subsidiary of Kutol products as Rainbow Crafts Company to make & sell play doh.

The product hit the market and became a bestseller gradually.

Saaransh : Wow! Mom so nice to hear the history behind my favorite clay.

Mom : Yes, indeed. Tomorrow you can have more fun with the play doh as you know how it was invented. For now, Good night!

Saaransh : Good night! Mom.


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