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History of Kleenex Tissue

In 1924, the Kleenex brand of facial tissue was first introduced.

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Kleenex brand products - SPACESAVER Design

Kleenex brand products - SPACESAVER Design

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Kleenex Brand Anti-Viral tissue.

Kleenex Brand Anti-Viral tissue. Kimberly-Clark Corporation announced in 2004 that the new facial tissue product designed to kill viruses that cause colds and the flu will be available.

Kimberly-Clark Corp. via Getty Images
Generic Tissue But Often Called A Kleenex

Generic Tissue But Often Called A Kleenex

Getty Images

In 1924, the Kleenex brand of facial tissue was first introduced. Kleenex tissue was invented as a means to remove cold cream. Early advertisements linked Kleenex to Hollywood makeup departments and sometimes included endorsements from movie stars (Helen Hayes and Jean Harlow) who used Kleenex to remove their theatrical make-up with cold cream.

Kleenex and Noses

By 1926, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, the manufacturer of Kleenex, became intrigued by the number of letters from customers stating that they used their product as a disposable handkerchief. 

A test was conducted in the Peoria, Illinois newspaper. Ads were run depicting the two main uses of Kleenex; either as a means to remove cold cream or as disposable handkerchief for blowing noses. The readers were asked to respond. Results showed that 60% used Kleenex tissue for blowing their nose. By 1930, Kimberly-Clark had changed the way they advertised Kleenex and sales doubled proving that the customer is always right.

Highlights of Kleenex History

In 1928, the familiar pop-up tissue cartons with a perforated opening was introduced. In 1929, colored Kleenex tissue was introduced and a year later printed tissues. In 1932, pocket packs of Kleenex were introduced.That same year, the Kleenex company came up with the phrase, "The handkerchief you can throw away!" to use in their advertisements.

During World War Two, rations were placed on the production of paper products and the manufacturing of Kleenex tissues was limited. However, the technology used in the tissues was applied to the field bandages and dressings used during the war effort giving the company a big boost in publicity. Supplies of paper products returned to normal in 1945 after the war ended.

In 1941, Kleenex MANSIZE tissues were launched, as indicated by the name this product was aimed at the male consumer. In 1949, a tissue for eyeglasses was released.

During the 50s, spread of the popularity of the tissues continued to grow. In 1954, the tissue was the official sponsor on the popular television show, The Perry Como Hour.

During the 60s, the company began successfully advertising the tissue during daytime programming rather than just nighttime television. SPACESAVER tissue packs were introduced, as well as purse packs and juniors. In 1967, the new square upright tissue box (BOUTIQUE) was introduced.

In 1981, the first scented tissue was introduced to the market (SOFTIQUE). In 1986, Kleenex atarted the "bless You" advertising campaign. In 1998, the company first used a six color printing process on their tissues allowing for complex prints on their tissues.

By the 00s, Kleenex is selling tissues in over 150 different countries. Kleenex with lotion, Ultra-Soft, and Anti-Viral products are all introduced. 

Where Did The Word Come From?

In 1924, when Kleenex tissues were first introduced to the public they were intended to be used with cold cream to remove make up and "clean" the face. The Kleen in Kleenex represented that "clean". The ex at the end of the word was tied into the company's other popular and successful product at the time, Kotex brand feminine napkins.

Generic Use of the Word Kleenex

The word Kleenex is now commonly used to describe any soft facial tissue (see third photo). However, Kleenex is the trademarked name of the soft facial tissue manufactured and sold by the Kimberly-Clark Corporation. See - When a Brand Name Becomes Generic

Continue - How Kleenex is Made

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