Mental Floss

The Unusual Origin Stories of Vaseline, Kleenex, and 7 Other Household Items

Ellen Gutoskey
Whom should you thank for this flushable wonder?
Whom should you thank for this flushable wonder? / RyanJLane/iStock via Getty Images

Though Kleenex is technically the name of a specific brand of facial tissue, there’s a pretty good reason it’s become a catch-all term for the product in general. It was the first disposable facial tissue to make it big, developed by Kimberly-Clark (the company behind Cottonelle, Huggies, and other well-known paper goods).

Kleenex was an altered version of an earlier Kimberly-Clark offering: Kotex. On this episode of The List Show, Mental Floss editor-in-chief Erin McCarthy is recounting how it came to be (and what it has to do with World War I). She’s also covering the surprising origin stories of other everyday items, from Vaseline and Velcro to barcodes and flush toilets.

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