Making the door opener your product

This is one of my favorite stories about how a smart and creative salesman along with his wife created a very successful product that began as a door opener . . .

A 1917 San Francisco door-to-door salesman, Edwin W. Cox sold the new highly touted aluminum cookware. However, because it was difficult to get into the kitchens to demonstrate his products, he found sales were mediocre. He needed a gimmick, a free introductory gift, allowing him to display his line.

Experimenting with small, square steel-wool pads hand-dipped into a soap solution, Cox discovered that the yet-named pads opened doors and boosted sales. Within a few months, demands for the pads out-grew Cox’s ability to dip and dry them in his kitchen. He stopped selling pots and pans and went into the business of manufacturing soap pads. Turning to his wife for a name, Mrs. Cox responded with “S.O.S Pads,” meaning “Save our Saucepans.” The product had a name that stuck.

You may not notice that the product name “S.O.S Pads” leaves out the period after the final “S.”  A mistake?  Nope. Cox wouldn’t be able register the name if it included the final period as that was already in the public domain.  His “S.O.S” could be officially registered, however.

Kickapoo Joy Juice

Kickapoo, first and foremost, referenced a cheap liquor, although kickapoo undoubtedly refers back to the Algonquin Kickapoo Indian tribe, originally residents in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Today about 800 members of the tribe live in Oklahoma. Ironically, the Kickapoo have never been known as notorious drinkers.

“Kickapoo Joy Juice” was first popularized in the 20th century by Al Capp in his “Li’l Abner” comic strip. The term initially appeared before the Civil War in “kickapoo ranger,” meaning a violent pro-slaver in Kansas. The sales connection goes back to 1861 when Dr. N.T. Oliver established the Kickapoo Indian Medicine Company which was selling the patent medicine, “Kickapoo Indian Sagwa.” The name “Kickapoo
was likely chosen for its “alliterative” sound.

Probably made of aloes and stale beer, the “Juice” was hyped during medicine shows with the aid of half a dozen Indians and many white performers.