Fascinating Histories of Successful Products

Fascinating Histories of Successful Products

Fascinating Histories of Successful Products
Image Credits: Good Housekeeping

It is hard to imagine a life without the things that we use every day. There are a number of successful products that have become a part and parcel of our lives (over the years). Interestingly, some of them offer amazing background stories. Here are the reasons why some of these successful products were created.


WD-40 - Successful Products

Everyone has heard of WD-40, a popular household product used as a solvent and rust dissolver. WD-40 stands for “water displacing 40th formula”. It got its name from being the 40th attempt at creating the formula for the product. Its lubricating properties come from dissolved components, not the substance itself.

The first commercial use for WD-40 was in Atlas Rocket Program. The corrosion caused by moisture was a major impediment for the Atlas rocket in the US Space Program. After all, necessity is the mother of invention and thus, WD-40 was created by Norm Larsen.

In the mid-50s, Larsen sold his company to pursue other innovative paths. The company was sold for a flat $20,000 without any royalties. In 1958, WD-40 was put in aerosol cans for consumer use. By 1993, it was estimated that you could find a can of this chemical in 80% of American households. Nowadays, a can of WD-40 can be found in almost everyone’s home.

Jack Daniel’s

Jack Daniel's - Successful Products

In the mid-1800s, Jack Daniel was a master whiskey distiller from Lynchburg, Tennessee. In this region, the ingredients needed to create spirits were extremely abundant. Naturally, he faced more than enough competition and was forced to think out of the box.

Therefore, he set on a quest to make his whiskey better than everyone else’s. Luckily, he had a spring of strikingly clear water on his property. In addition to that, he was quite picky about the grains he chose for his product. Later, he developed a method of filtering the booze through ten feet of charcoal to produce nice, smooth output.

In the mid-twentieth century, demand for the drink skyrocketed. Jack started fueling the artistic output of dignitaries such as William Faulkner and Frank Sinatra. They started referring to Jack Daniel’s as “the nectar of the gods”.

Jack Daniel’s is one of the most recognizable brands of spirits in the world. However, the origin of its recipe was murky until 2012. A Welsh businessman stumbled upon a book written by his great-great-grandmother who was an herbalist. She had written a recipe in 1853 that may very well be the original formula for Jack Daniel’s.


Cheerios - Successful Products

The popularity of cereals is what makes Cheerios one of the most successful products. Contrastingly, when cereal was first conceived as a breakfast food, most people were just fine with bacon and eggs.

This is because nobody was talking about heart-healthy anything in the 1930s and 1940s. The first cold cereal, called Cherrioats was created by General Mills in 1940. You just needed to pour some milk to eat it. Consequently, this cereal was an instant hit with a couple of million sales in its first year.

There was another poorly competing product that was using the same name. After five years of growing sales, General Mills decided to change the name. At the same time, the company began marketing the cereal exclusively towards children through advertisement on Mickey Mouse Club shows.



Playdoh is probably the most accidental of all the successful products on this list. This world-famous, non-toxic modeling clay was created by Noah McVicker and his nephew Joseph. The McVickers were the owners of Kutol Chemicals, a successful company that sold clay-like soft substance.

Originally, this chemical was used as a wallpaper cleaning compound. Joseph had a conversation with a friend about how much pain it was to work with and clean up clay. The younger McVicker shipped one box of the material to his friend, who was a teacher. He introduced Playdoh to his students and they loved the chemical.

The company was bought by General Mills in 1965. After the sale of some two billion cans, it merged with Kenner, in 1971. Given its popularity, it’s hard to believe Playdoh could have been anything but a fun way to sculpt stuff.

Dr. Pepper

Dr. Pepper

It is a common misconception that Dr. Pepper was created by a doctor. However, the truth is not that far off. The inventor of the world’s oldest soft drink was Charles Alderton, a Pharmacist from Texas.

Another misconception about the drink is that it was originally created as a medicine. The fact, however, is that Alderton just enjoyed mixing different flavored syrups in his free time. He enjoyed the smell of all the fruity syrups (from the soda fountain) mingled together. Therefore, he set out to create a drink that tasted like that smell.

The pharmacy owner, Wade Morrison loved the new drink and named it after a friend named Dr. Charles Pepper. The drink was a massive success but eventually, Alderton became tired of fizzy mixings. As a result, he sold the successful product to Morrison.

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