Duct Tape

Duct tape. It can fix just about anything. In fact, some handy people swear it is the only thing they need in their toolboxes. Where did it come from? How is it made? These are the mysteries that most people will leave buried because they have better things to think about than the origins of some kind of tape. Since you are still reading this, it is safe to assume that you are not one of those busy people. So venture on and discover the mysteries of...duct tape.

What is this this thing that so many Americans rely on to hold up the hems of their pants or patch the holes in their shoes? Believe it or not, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson Co. called Permacel, created the tape for the US military in 1942, smack dab in the middle of the second World War. The tape, initially made from cotton duck fabric, was also used to repair various military equipment. It is good to know that Uncle Sam got the most out of the military budget and saved millions of dollars by making the soldiers use their equipment as long as duct tape would hold it together!

Instead of new equipment, Uncle Sam gave the troops our secret weapon...duct tape. With that sticky coated and rubberized duck cloth, US troops repaired their guns, their aircraft, and their jeeps. The fate of the soldiers and the world was in the hands of duck cloth and rubber. That the lives of the service men and women rested on the stickiness of tape must have been extremely reassuring to the troops. Not. In any case, duct tape seems to have worked. Ammunition cases stayed waterproofed, guns did not fall apart in the middle of shooting, wings remained affixed to planes and the axles stayed on the jeeps. All because of this amazing tape.

After the war, with tales of this wonder product buzzing throughout the country, the public clamored to get their hands on it. Johnson and Johnson began distributing it to the eager public, but not before the color was thoughtfully changed from an ugly Army green to a beautiful silver color that would be stylish and blend in well wherever the tape was used.

Over the last 65 years, it has been used in some ways Johnson and Johnson never could have imagined. 

In fact, duct tape has spawned somewhat of a cult following, inspiring books such as Stick It: 99 Duct Tape Projects and Ductigami: The Art of the Tape. The Duck Tape Company sponsors a prom dress scholarship contest every year and the results are truly amazing. An entire hour's episode of the television show Myth Busters was devoted to exploring myths that have grown up around duct tape. They built a boat entirely out of duct tape, took it to San Francisco Bay and, yes, it was sea worthy. In a more recent episode about Duct tape, the guys built a bridge from nearly 400 pounds of Duct tape. You will have to watch the show to find out if it worked or not.

Next time you reach for your trusty roll of duct tape, stop a moment and give thanks to the Johnson & Johnson Co. and Uncle Sam for this handy, dandy roll of sticky, rubberized duck cloth.