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“Duck Tape” or “Duct Tape”? Either Way is Right, and Its Sticky History Fascinating

The world’s most useful tool was the brainchild of a Blue Star mother and WWII war plant worker from Illinois named Vesta Stoudt. Vesta had two sons in the Navy, and she got a job packing rifle grenades in cardboard boxes sealed with wax for waterproofing. She saw immediately how difficult the boxes were to open and knew that the seconds lost would cost lives in combat.

So, she wrote a letter to President Roosevelt suggesting that the military used strong waterproof cloth tape instead of wax. And, what do you know, FDR passed the letter on to the War Production Board, which determined Vesta’s idea had merit. A few months later, Johnson & Johnson introduced “Duck Tape” (waterproof, like a duck, and made with cotton duck fabric) to the world. Postwar heating and ventilating companies would use it to join ducts.  And the military continues to use the “100 Mile an Hour Tape” to repair just about everything.

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