Q Who invented Kleenex tissues? He or she must be rich, because in our house we go through them like crazy every winter.

A The invention of the disposable tissue called Kleenex is not attributed to any one person. Rather, it's a byproduct of Kimberly-Clark's wartime effort to find a substitute for cotton. There are lots of other brands of tissues now, but it all started with Kleenex and the story is rather interesting. It's a direct result of the battlefield needs of World War I.

With cotton in short supply in 1914, a substitute was urgently needed for surgical bandages used on World War I battlefields and in hospitals. The Kimberly-Clark company developed a remarkably absorbent cotton-like wadding called Cellucotton. Cellucotton took the place of cotton bandages and was used in gas-mask air filters.

After the war, huge surpluses of Cellucotton crowded warehouses, and Kimberly-Clark started looking for a peacetime use for the product.

The first postwar spinoff was a glamour product -- a cold-cream tissue. Called the Kleenex Kerchief and advertised as a "Sanitary Cold Cream Remover," it was used by Hollywood and Broadway stars to remove makeup. With the help of celebrity endorsements, sales steadily rose and the product remained unchanged. But then women began to write to the company complaining that their husbands were blowing their noses in cold cream kerchiefs.

About the same time, a Chicago inventor devised a pop-up tissue box. In the early 1920s, Kimberly-Clark decided to place its kerchiefs in these boxes. Now, the product won even more nose-blowing converts, for it supplied a quick and easily accessible way of containing sudden sneezes.

Consumer demand persuaded the company to change from marketing a cold-cream tissue to selling one for nose-blowing, and the Kleenex you "go through like crazy" was born.

From "Panati's Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things"

Fence does work when power goes out

A recent column on the pros and cons of electronic fences used to keep dogs in the yard listed, as a con, that they won't work when the electricity goes out.

That's not true, at least for the Invisible Fence brand of fencing, wrote Mike Williams with the Invisible Fence Co. of Minnesota. Most of the company's systems include a battery so they will work during power failures.

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