Monday, April 20, 2015

Q is for Q-Tips: Inventions by Women A-Z

Q-tips. One of the more ingenious of inventions in the 1920s. Over the years my family has used a Q-tip to clean the skin and ears (pet and human), for cleaning electronics, keyboards and similar, as paint and glue brushes, as medicine applicators, and more.


Leo Gerstenzang
1892-1973
But I'm cheating here, I admit, in my search for a 'Q' invention. You see, the Q-tip was actually invented (1923) by a Polish-born American businessman named Leo Gerstenzang. 

But hold on . . . stop the train, it's not Leo I wish to talk about. Leo's dear wife Ziuta played a very important role in the Q-tip's discoveryLeo was observing Ziuta bathe their

baby one day and noticed she often would wrap a piece of cotton on the end of a toothpick to clean the baby's ears. A bell went off, and he suddenly realized he had just discovered a product women would buy and use, and he was absolutely right.  

Unfortunately, Ziuta's influence was never officially confirmed, so her role in the Q-tip invention is considered somewhat legendary by some. Personally, I think it is extremely likely she did spark Leo's idea. Men seldom participated in the care of their children in the 1920s, but it would have been natural for him to observe Ziuta in this role. It is rather sad Leo or other family members never confirmed her role. An online search revealed nothing, not even a photo. Nevertheless, it can be assumed that Ziuta's idea and Leo's invention went on to make a nice income for the family and their heirs.

Vintage Q-Tip BoxAs you probably know, Q-tips are no longer considered safe for an infant's ears or ours (at least according to doctors), and maybe not the dog's ears. They were promoted for such use well into the 1960s for ear wax cleaning and “water in the ear.” But they still have a multitude of other great uses. I always have a ready supply. Do you use Q-tips?

Leo went on to found the Leo Gerstenzang Infant Novelty Company. The company marketed baby care accessories, including Q-tips, which were first sold as "Baby Gays," and later (1926) changed to the name we know today. Leo certainly deserves credit for designing the marketed Q-tip and filing the patent as inventor, but most people haven't a clue as to the origin of Leo's invention. This is your opportunity to thank Ziuta Gerstenzang for her role
 

Boric Tipped Baby Gays
A 1927 Ad from Pittsburgh Press archives


What do you use Q-tips for?






Sources: http://www.qtips.com/home/about; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cotton_swab
http://www.geni.com/people/Leo-Gerstenzang/6000000014131917518
https://triviahappy.com/articles/how-q-tips-began-as-boric-tipped-baby-gays

Copyright 2015 © Sharon Marie Himsl

24 comments:

  1. Another great invention , most enjoyable to read.

    Yvonne.

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  2. Q tips! There's another blog (http://katloveswriting.blogspot.com/) that talks about things that are NO longer with us... quill pens and I remarked, thank goodness Q tips are still around.
    Maui Jungalow

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  3. What a great, light hearted post. My dad always said that you should never put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear! :)

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    1. Dad knew what he was talking about! Thanks for visiting..

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  4. We call them cotton buds - no idea why :) and I have seen them used for many, many purposes. Getting the last of my nail varnish off from where skin meet nail is a good one ;)
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

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  5. I've used Q-tips to apply eye-shadow when I can't find that darn little sponge brush. I've also used them to remove those flicks of mascara that land on my face when the mascara wand slips in my hand. I'd be a mess without a Q-tip. Thanks Ziuta!

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    1. Oh, I forgot about that....another great use.

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  6. I always have a supply of Q-tips on hand. And I totally believe Ziuta had a big role in their invention!

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  7. I've always wondered why they are called Q Tips. They don't look like a Q. I never used them until recently, when I started to wear eye makeup. They're excellent for removing it, as are cotton balls, which I started using at the same time.

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    1. That's a good question......now I'm wondering too :)

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  8. This is an invention that no one can live without. In the modern world, it's like toilet paper and paper towels. How did we get along without them?

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    1. It's one of those little things we take for granted....until we're out :)

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  9. Baby Gays XD Lovely. And I still know a lot of people who use them in their ears. It always seemed icky to me. But they are useful for other things! :D

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary - Epics from A to Z
    MopDog - 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

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  10. Oh Ziuta all the way! Of course he got the idea from her. Thankfully the name was changed as Baby gays just doesn't sound right:) I use q-tips for my craft work especially chalks!

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    1. Oh, for your crafts....yes, that would make sense :)

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  11. I still use them in all those ways. It is over use and pushing them past the outside of the ear that is the hazard. I also use q-tips to get the mascara I always get on my lid when I cover my lashes off.

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  12. Ziuta, thank you and I acknowledge you as the muse. We also call them cotton buds. My husband is an ENT specialist and he says nothing smaller than the elbow should go into the ear. Of course i use them for cleaning around the inside rim of the ear ... and even pull the bud out a bid with my teeth to go inside a bit. Lovely uses by other commentators!

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    1. Ah...your husband would know! I like the phrase 'cotton buds' :)

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