In this part, discover which popular children’s toy started out as wallpaper cleaner, and the butcher who is responsible for one of the nation’s most loved savory snack!
Pepsi – First introduced in 1898 by Caleb Bradham as ‘Brad’s Drink.’ The drink was named Pepsi-cola after the digestive enzyme pepsin and Kola nuts that were used in the recipe. Pepsi was invented to aid digestion and give an energy boost.
Play-Doh – The moldable modeling clay that we all remember getting stuck in our hair as kids was originally a putty-like wallpaper cleaner invented by Noah McVicker in the 1930’s. The product became the toy we know and love after a family member discovered that nursery children were using it to make Christmas ornaments.
Reebok – Originally started by Joseph William Foster the inventor of spiked running shoes in Bolton, greater Manchester in 1890. The company was originally named J.W.Foster and sons which was changed to Reebok in 1960 by the founder’s grandsons. Reebok comes from the South African word for antelope – Rhebok, taken from a dictionary won in a race by Foster’s grandson.
Samsung – The world renowned electronics and printer manufacturer was initially founded in 1938 as a food processing and textile company. It wasn’t until 1969 that they saw the potential of the electronics industry and started to manufacture TV’s and home appliances.
Subway (sandwiches) – in 1965, at the tender age of 17, Fred De Luca borrowed $1000 from a family friend to open his first sandwich shop in Connecticut. He originally named it Pete’s Submarines, which sounded like ‘Pizza Marines’ on a radio advertisement. On opening day a mass of curious customers arrived. The name was later changed to subway because the shop was decorated with pictures of the New York City subway system.
Tesco – Started when Jack Cohen opened his own stall in East London 1920. The Tesco name was adopted when Jack started to sell tea from a supplier named T.E.Stockwell. He made labels for the tea that took the initials from his supplier and the first two letters from his surname to make the brand name we know today, Tesco.
Twitter – The idea behind twitter was formed over a day long brainstorming session who wanted to create a service where an individual could communicate a message to a small group. The first ever ‘Tweet’ was sent by creator Jack Dorsey on March 21st 2006 and said, ‘Just setting up my twttr.’
Umbro – Umbro was set up in Cheadle near Manchester in 1924 as Humphrey Brothers Clothing. The brand gained quick recognition when it fitted out the football teams Manchester City and Portsmouth in the 1934 FA Cup Final.
Virgin – Founded in 1972 by Sir Richard Branson and Nik Powell initially as a record shop called Virgin records and tapes that became a success as it offered free vegetarian food and bean bags for customers to listen to music. The pair, then joined by Simon Draper turned the business into a record label.
Walkers crisps – In the 1880’s Henry Walker took over an established butchers in Leicester. By the end of World War 2 the factory output dropped dramatically due to meat rationing so the company shifted focus to potato crisps which were becoming increasingly popular.
Wrigley’s chewing gum – The company was founded in 1891, and originally sold products such as soap and baking powder. By 1892 the William Wrigley Jr. begin packaging chewing gum with each can of baking powder. The chewing gum became more popular than the baking powder and the rest is history!
Xerox – Founded in 1906 as ‘The Haloid Photographic Company,’ Xerox originally manufactured paper and equipment. Now, one of the world’s largest printer, ink and toner manufacturers, Xerox owes its success to introduction of the first photocopier in 1959, named the Xerox 914.
Yahoo! – In 1994 two graduates of Stanford University created a website called, ‘David and Jerry’s Guide To The World Wide Web.’ The name was later changed to Yahoo, a term taken from the book Guilliver’s Travels, as David and Jerry jokingly considered themselves Yahoos – a person who is repulsive in appearance and barely human!
Yellow pages – The well known telephone directory was first developed in 1883. The concept came about when the printer ran out of white paper and so used yellow paper instead!
So there you have it! Did the humble origins of some of the world’s biggest brands surprise you? Or did it even inspire you to know that some of the leading companies in the world started with the smallest idea?
Every brand has to start somewhere, and even if it’s in your next door neighbours’ garage or a small corner shop…..you never know, one day you may be creating the next Nike, Coca-Cola or Tesco’s!