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Random Thoughts

Stuck On Band-Aids

Hudson Cooper
Posted 3/18/22

Sometimes I have trouble remembering where I put my car keys. However, I seem to be able to recall jingles from commercials that have not aired in many years. “See the USA in your …

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Random Thoughts

Stuck On Band-Aids


Sometimes I have trouble remembering where I put my car keys. However, I seem to be able to recall jingles from commercials that have not aired in many years. “See the USA in your Chevrolet” and “I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Weiner” are somehow stored in my brain along with hundreds of other ad campaigns, defunct passwords and addresses of places where I formerly lived.

Last week, while reaching into my silverware drawer, I foolishly cut my index finger on a protruding knife. Wrapping the slightly bleeding wound, I rushed to the bathroom and found a box of Band-Aids. As I fumbled to open one, my brain decided to remind me of the jingle “I’m stuck on Band-Aid ‘cause Band-Aid’s stuck on me.”        

I fumbled to open the Band-Aid paper sleeve because, although the product is a great invention, they have yet to perfect the wrapper. First, I tried to tear off an end, but it was impossible to slide the Band-Aid out. Then I tore along a lengthwise edge and tried to pry open the wrapper. Eventually, I was able to separate the wrapper from the Band-Aid and then tried to place it around the cut using my non-bloody hand. Memo to Johnson & Johnson, develop a better way of packaging the product so that unwrapping the Band-Aid does not add to the stress of trying to close a small wound.

My readers will notice that I keep writing Band-Aid instead of band-aid. Johnson & Johnson’s product has trademark, patent and copyright protection. I respect the concept of intellectual property. So, Band-Aid, Wiffle Ball, Kleenex and many others, I got your back.

What did people use to treat small wounds before the Band-Aid? Ancient Egyptians wrapped the wound in honey to ward off airborne infections. Around 400 BC, the Greek physician Hippocrates treated cuts with vinegar before wrapping the injured area in fig leaves. In medieval times some doctors tried using spider webs to close wounds.

In the 1860’s, a physician named Joseph Lister started using surgical gauze treated with an antiseptic called carbolic acid. Legend has it that he decided upon carbolic acid after he noticed it took away the foul odor from sewer stench.

Years later, Joseph Lawrence, the creator of Listerine, named the now familiar mouthwash after Doctor Lister. For your interest, originally Listerine had many uses besides mouthwash. As a disinfectant it was also used to mop floors and to scrub feet.

Johnson & Johnson, formed in 1886, began marketing sterile gauze pads to treat cuts and bruises. Soon they packaged gauze pads, bandages and disinfectants together and sold the first commercial first aid kits.

The item we know as the Band-Aid was invented by a cotton buyer named Earle Dickson in 1920. His wife loved to cook but seemingly lacked safe knife skills. She was constantly cutting her fingers probably causing Earle to ask, “Good burger, but didn’t you say we were out of ketchup?”

To remedy his wife’s nicked fingers and eliminate his condiment questions, Dickson cut pieces of surgical tape and affixed a square piece of gauze in the middle. Using his invention, Mrs. Dickson was able to apply the bandage by herself. A year later in 1921, Johnson & Johnson began selling Dickson’s invention under the name Band-Aid.

There is some debate on how they settled on the name Band-Aid. Undocumented speculation is that a focus group rejected Cut-Buster, Heal-Tape and Wound-Wrap. Initially they named it Band-Age but that soon morphed into Bandage-Aid. But the designer of the package realized that “Bandage-Aid” would not fit on the paper wrapper. A quick editing job and the product “Band-Aid” was born.

Today many of us are stuck on Band-Aids and have a box in our medicine cabinet or first aid kit. Pun alert…Johnson & Johnson “cuts into a big slice” of the adhesive bandage market to the tune of about 168 million dollars in yearly sales in the United States.


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