Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Duct Tape or Duck Tape®?
Duct Tape or Duck Tape®?
The real story behind the world’s handiest product
Few household products have inspired such a following as Duck Tape®, but how did this acrobat of adhesion come about? In honor of the fact that we recently started carrying Duck Tape® I thought I would offer some history behind this utilitarian wonder, and how it came to be the mainstay of junk drawers across America.
Duck Tape® is entrenched in anecdotal evidence referencing its original use as ‘duct’ tape and how similar the name was to the ‘duck’ animal and so on, but here are the facts. The first ‘duck tape’ was in fact strips of cotton duck cloth—a thick woven cloth made of cotton—that had a variety of applications from reinforcing shoes to wrapping steel cable. In fact, the cables of the iconic Brooklyn Bridge were first covered in linseed oil before being wrapped in duct tape. Adhesive tapes were used throughout the early 1900s but Revolite, know today as Permacell—a branch of Johnson & Johnson—was the first to create and adhesive version of duck cloth, for medical use.
Duck Tape as we know it today was created by Revolite after a factory worker suggested soldiers in WWII needed a tape to waterproof their ammunition cases. President Franklin D. Roosevelt required the tape keep moisture out while also capable of being torn by hand. Johnson & Johnson met this challenge through the use of duck tape with waterproof polyethylene on one side and gray adhesive “Polycoat” on the other. Macgyver’s best friend quickly became one of the most popular and practical products in the military, used to repair everything from vehicles to weapons. Some of the name confusion comes from the military nicknaming the product “duck tape,” no one can ever be sure if it was a result of the waterproof characteristics of the duck animal, its base of cotton duck tape or the military amphibious duck vehicle. Regardless, the name stuck!
After WWII the ‘duct’ vs. ‘Duck’ confusion centered on contractors using modified versions of duck tape for heating and cooling ducts. The tape was modified from its traditional military olive drab to the iconic gray color most of us think of today to match such ducts. In 1971, the rights to Duct Tape were purchased by Jack Kahl and he rebranded the product as the Duck Tape® we know today. Since its rebranding, Duck Tape® has become a national fascination, offered in over 20 colors and patterns. Paracord Planet is proud to offer this innovation icon in a variety of colors, styles and sizes on our website. Who knows, it may just got perfectly with your next Paracord project?