[Ads-l] Ivory Soap

Benjamin M Brainard brainard at UGA.EDU
Sun Sep 3 11:49:18 UTC 2017

Let’s not forget the irony (vis a vis pure) that Marilyn Chambers, of Behind the Green Door fame, was the baby on the Ivory Snow box.

Benjamin Brainard VMD, Dipl ACVAA, ACVECC
Edward H Gunst Professor of Small Animal Critical Care
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Georgia
706-542-9383 (v)
706-357-0109 (f)

On 9/3/17, 7:34 AM, "American Dialect Society on behalf of James A. Landau" <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU on behalf of JJJRLandau at NETSCAPE.COM> wrote:

    --- Begin forwarded message:
    From: Dave Feldman <feldman at imponderables.com>
    To: JJJRLandau at netscape.com
    Subject: Ivory Soap
    Date: Sun, 3 Sep 2017 01:02:01 -0400
    Hi Jim,
    A friend of mine, who is on the ADS listserv contacted me about the age-old
    Ivory Soap Imponderables, and I attempted to answer directly to the
    Listserv but my email was rejected.  Might you be willing to post this to
    the list, just in case the OP is sleepless without the answer?  Thanks!
    Dave Feldman
     If Ivory Soap is 99.44% pure, what's the rest?
    > The answer can be found in David Feldman _Why Do Clocks Run Clockwise_.
    Unformatunately I do not have a copy available at this time.
    > - Jim Landau
    I seem to have a copy floating around here:
            Procter & Gamble, in the late nineteenth century, sold many
    products made of fats, such as candles and lard oil, as well as soap.
    Ivory Soap was originally marketed as a laundry soap, but the company was
    smart enough to realize its product’s potential as a cosmetic soap.  The
    only problem was that most consumers were buying castile soaps (hard soaps
    made out of olive oil and sodium hydroxide) and considered laundry soap
    inappropriate for their personal grooming.
            In order to convince consumers that its soap was wholesome, Procter
    & Gamble employed an independent scientific consultant in New York City to
    determine exactly what a pure soap was.  The answer:  a pure soap should
    consist of nothing but fatty acids and alkali; anything else was foreign
    and superfluous.
            Samples of Ivory Soap were sent to the same chemist for analysts.
    Much to the manufacturer’s surprise, Ivory, by the consultant’s definition,
    was “purer” than the competing castile soaps — containing only 0.56 percent
    “impurities.”  The impurities, then and now, were rather innocent:
                            Uncombined alkali:  0.11 percent
                            Carbonates:  0.28 percent
                            Mineral matter: 0.17 percent
            The first Ivory advertisement was placed in a religious weekly, The
    Independent, on December 21, 1881.  Procter & Gamble decided to emphasize
    the positive, and right away hammered at their product’s advantages.  Ivory
    Soap was trumpeted as “99 and 44/100 percent pure,” a rare advertising
    slogan in that it has lasted longer than a century.
            I wrote this 30 years go, but I’m guessing the info is still
    accurate, as this is a rare Imponderables entry that I’ve gotten no
    complaints about!  Hope this helps.
    Dave Feldman
    Netscape.  Just the Net You Need.
    The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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