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Fascinating facts about the invention of
Ivory Soap by William Procter in 1879.

Ivory Soap is 99 44/100 percent pure .... and it FLOATS!  

Did it take years of experimenting to get that soap to float?  Not exactly. Ivory Soap floated by accident.  For years the Procter & Gamble company had been developing a formula for a high quality soap at an affordable price. In January 1878, they finally perfected the formula. They called it simply "White Soap," and began production.  Several months later the accident occurred. 

A large batch of White Soap was mixing when a workman at the factory went to lunch and left the machinery running.  When he returned, he found that air had been worked into the mixture. he decided not to discard the batch of soap because of such a small error, and he poured the soap into the frames.  The soap hardened and it was cut, packaged, and shipped.
A few weeks later, letters began arriving at Procter & Gamble asking for more of the soap that floated.  The workman's error had turned into a selling point!  Harley Procter came up with the name "Ivory" while listening to a bible reading at church one morning in 1879.


Mistakes That Worked
by Charlotte Foltz Jones, John O'Brien (Illustrator) / Paperback - 48 pages (1994) / Doubleday
Recounting the fascinating stories behind the accidental inventions of forty familiar objects and products.
Rising Tide : Lessons from 165 Years of Brand Building at Procter & Gamble
by Davis Dyer / Hardcover: 467 pages / Harvard Business School Press (May 27, 2004)
Describes the introduction and evolution of such household brands as Ivory, Tide, Crest, and Pampers and illustrate how P&G learned to satisfy consumers and compete in markets all over the world.

Soap Opera : The Inside Story of Procter & Gamble
by Alecia Swasy / Paperback: 400 pages / Simon & Schuster (September 1, 1994)
In this explosive expose, Wall Street Journal reporter Alecia Swasy tells the chilling story of life within P&G. Wonderfully readable, impeccably researched, Soap Opera is a sobering look at the price of success in American business.

Soap Facts-The Origin of Soap
At the same period that Colgate & Co. introduced Cashmere Bouquet, a perfumed soap, William Procter and James Gamble set up business together in Cincinnati.

Ivory Soap History
The official Web site for Ivory Soap from P&G.
Advertising Soap in America
This selection of 1,600 advertisements and related ephemera, 1838-1998, features a representative sample of print advertising for Ivory soap, one of the nation's longest-lived, branded consumer products.From National Museum of American History.
Soap Making
Learning to make your own soap can be a rewarding and worthwhile experience.
Procter & Gamble

The history of  William Procter and James Gamble.
MadSci Network: Chemistry
Why does Ivory soap expand in a microwave oven?
From Talawanda Middle School in Oxford, OH.

Harley Procter totaled the ingredients which did not fall into the category of pure soap—they equaled 56/100%. He subtracted from 100, and wrote the slogan "99-44/100% Pure®: It Floats." This became a pledge of quality to Ivory consumers. This phrase is so identified with Ivory, it's registered as a trademark with the United States Trademark office. "It Floats" was added to Ivory's slogan in 1891. 

® Ivory Soap is a Registered Trademark of the Procter & Gamble Corporation
Reference Sources in BOLD Type This page revised February, 2005.

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