Metafilter's Own Maursam
February 16, 2010 5:03 PM   Subscribe

A couple months ago, someone asked about the history of Gold Bond powder. As occasionally happens 'round these parts, the daughter of a 2nd-generation exec popped in to drop some knowledge.

Can we sidebar?
posted by mkultra to MetaFilter-Related at 5:03 PM (49 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

awesome! and welcome, maursam!
posted by mwhybark at 5:28 PM on February 16, 2010


I remember Vietnam and on weekends several of us would work through the weekend and everything we made was sent for free to anyone who had written to the company about jock rash and foot fungus specifically.

She went to Vietnam?
posted by anniecat at 5:32 PM on February 16, 2010


Oh never mind. She was at the company, presumably, not actually fighting there...
posted by anniecat at 5:33 PM on February 16, 2010


Oh hey I'm going to New Bedford tomorrow. That's really cool, thanks for the find.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:41 PM on February 16, 2010


And yeah I put it on the sidebar.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:48 PM on February 16, 2010


I don't want to derail an AskMe so I'll ask it here:

Talc from Nevada? Where they tested the nukes? Wouldn't that be a little risky?

Also, I don't understand what she meant by "changing the bins." Anyone got an explanation?
posted by five fresh fish at 5:59 PM on February 16, 2010


Are metatalk posts ever linked from the askme? I know this is standard on the blue, but what about there? I can't recall ever having seen this. Just wondering.

And I remember all the Gold Bond radio commercials in the 70s.

I aslo used the product when I was in the Guard. It saved me from blisters on more than one road march. Cool post.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:05 PM on February 16, 2010


Talc from Nevada? Where they tested the nukes? Wouldn't that be a little risky?

Nevada is huge and people don't live in most of it. To the best of my knowledge it's still where a lot of concrete and talc and other minerals come from. Here's more explanation about the Nevada Test site which isn't really that reassuring but it at least shows where the site is. People say that Utah really got the brunt of the activity at the test site because of the way the winds move.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:14 PM on February 16, 2010


Are metatalk posts ever linked from the askme?

Sometimes, yeah, in the case of callouts certainly.

fff, my guess is she's referring to some sort of safety or other legislative thing that would require some sort of mandated overhaul. Maybe changing the way products were stored or mixed or something.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:16 PM on February 16, 2010


Ask Metafilter: I have a shit-tzu now who has the same problem and it works.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:24 PM on February 16, 2010


Ask Metafilter: I have a shit-tzu now who has the same problem and it works.

Good all-purpose answer there!
posted by marxchivist at 6:32 PM on February 16, 2010


Why would the government want "the little guys out"? I'm so looking up that article from 1973.
posted by dabitch at 6:36 PM on February 16, 2010


So why would her dad be unhappy to be sourcing talc from Nevada? Poorer quality? Maybe someone who knows geology has an idea.

"Nevada is huge" is amusing. It's a third the size of BC.

I thought the "bins" might be a typo. I was going with H&S too, if no one had a better idea. I suppose old industrial hoppers might leak way more talc powder than is safe to breathe.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:03 PM on February 16, 2010


"Nevada is huge" is amusing. It's a third the size of BC.

The idea that atomic tests way back when mean the entire state of Nevada is a nuclear contaminated wasteland is also amusing.
posted by 6550 at 7:08 PM on February 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Nevada is the 7th largest state by area in the country.

And BC? Psshh...it's only half the size of Alaska. (This is where you respond about Nunavut)
posted by Atreides at 7:53 PM on February 16, 2010


Nunavut is bigger'en all-a'em.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:59 PM on February 16, 2010


The Gold Bond Mafia
posted by jtron at 8:06 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


dabitch: "Why would the government want "the little guys out"? I'm so looking up that article from 1973"

National regulatory oversight as implemented at midcentury was at the very least aligned to powerful business interests seeking to create barriers to entry at the same time as economies of scale. The government didn't care, but Johnson and Johnson did not need a weatherman to see which way the wind blows.

five fresh fish: "So why would her dad be unhappy to be sourcing talc from Nevada?"

I'm reading in pretty heavily here, but I'm guessing that the biz changes meant the local talc distro was sewed up by the bigs or just plain gone, and the only other option was to vertically integrate and source directly, not economically effective for mom and pop.

The above is pure speculation, but informed by conversations with old people who experienced midcentury changes in their businesses after the war.
posted by mwhybark at 8:16 PM on February 16, 2010


I'm so looking up that article from 1973
Good luck with that, I can only find archives back to May 1995.
posted by tellurian at 8:42 PM on February 16, 2010


tellurian: "Good luck with that, I can only find archives back to May 1995"

I think microfiche might be the only option there...and it may have to be at the local library. We could probably as Jessamyn how the microfiche of small town newspapers is stored. She's the resident goddess of all things library.
posted by dejah420 at 9:42 PM on February 16, 2010


When she mentioned changing out the bins, I pictured huge old aluminum storage bins that the company had used since its start-up. Like the old bins were leaching oxidation into the different powders possibly contaminating the ingredients, and the government wanted her father to switch to nice tidy easy to clean plastic bins at a prohibitive cost. But what do I know?
posted by Acacia at 11:23 PM on February 16, 2010


She says:
"He was unable to buy the talc he needed so we bought it the only way we could - in a Nevada desert. He was too straight to keep on doing that... "

I read that as, maybe there was some shady (not-straight) dealing needed to buy talc after the new regulations were put in place? Eg, personally meeting a supplier in the desert and paying cash to avoid having to file required paperwork or something? But he was "too straight", too honest, to continue once he saw that there was no aboveboard way to stay in the business?
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:49 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Maybe mafia problems in Nevada in the 60s and 70s?
posted by empath at 12:15 AM on February 17, 2010


We could probably as Jessamyn how the microfiche of small town newspapers is stored.

Totally varies and the answer is often "it's not" but as I said, I'm going ot be in New Bedford next week [quel coincidence!] and this might give me a reason to visit the local library and see what they've got.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:15 AM on February 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


They used to play Gold Bond commercials on the radio during Red Sox games and for a long time they were ALWAYS followed by Ovaltine commercials. The two sets of commercials had the same production values and tenor, and I could only conclude that they were owned by the same company. So then I concluded that Ovaltine and Gold Bond were in fact the same product in different packages, and that diminished my enjoyment of either product.

Actually I like both, but those commercials were perplexing.
posted by dirtdirt at 4:44 AM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


LoC has this newspaper (according to WorldCat) so if I get down there for a school project at some point in the near future, I'll see if I can look it up. (I thought a MeFite worked there, but I can't remember now.)
posted by sperose at 7:27 AM on February 17, 2010


Talc from Nevada? Where they tested the nukes? Wouldn't that be a little risky?

Because we are extreme-to-the-max, some of us prefer our talc to have a bit of extra kick, nothing takes care of skin rashes like some hard radiation.

Also, the mutagenic properties are excellent for keeping those wrinkles that come with age to a minimum; because 1.) you probably won't live long enough to notice them and 2.) the soft glowing green glow of your skin is usually enough to distract from minor blemishes.
posted by quin at 8:24 AM on February 17, 2010



They used to play Gold Bond commercials on the radio during Red Sox games and for a long time they were ALWAYS followed by Ovaltine commercials. The two sets of commercials had the same production values and tenor....


On a similar note, any mention of Gold Bond always reminds me of their commercials sponsoring Paul Harvey and radio ads in general which multiplies my enjoyment to imagine that this response was part of some great Pepsi Blue style marketing campaign where, since it's such an old school polite company, they just wait around for somebody to ask about them.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:52 AM on February 17, 2010


Oh hey I'm going to New Bedford tomorrow.

"Never get out of the boat." Absolutely goddamn right! Unless you were goin' all the way... Kurtz got off the boat. He split from the whole fuckin' program.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:55 AM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I did find a few references online that all talc after 1973 was required to be asbestos-free due. Which, of course, is a good thing, but it might have changed how Gold Bond was getting its talc.

As far as the bins go, I do know that companies had to stop using the metal *tins* for packaging when we had wars going on because the tin was needed for the war effort. But how that encouraged J&J while discouraging Gold Bond, I can't fathom.
posted by misha at 10:31 AM on February 17, 2010


It occurs to me that the poster's real name appears in the title of this Meta, but it's only available via her profile page. Worth changing the title of this post?
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:07 AM on February 17, 2010


Yeah let me do that, it's not mission-critical information. And yeah I'm going to New Bedford this week and I'll keep you all posted!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:49 AM on February 17, 2010


More weirdness: It seems that in the various buy-outs in recent years, Gold Bond moved to Chattanooga, TN from New Bedford, MA, where Gold Bond Inc. may reside (I'm fuzzy on what FOB means in this usage). Gold Bond Inc. looks to be a distributor of a variety of products, mostly gimmicky stuff to brand and give away at conventions or meetings.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:32 PM on February 17, 2010


It occurs to me that the poster's real name appears in the title of this Meta, but it's only available via her profile page.
If you do a search on the names she gives in her comment you get obituaries that identify her.
posted by tellurian at 2:25 PM on February 17, 2010


I don't know if it matters, but the name is still in the URL even though the title's been changed. There may not be a way to change that at this point.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 3:12 PM on February 17, 2010


Whoops, got it; I am a little slow today.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:56 PM on February 17, 2010


No, I'm still seeing the same URL. I cleared my cache and everything.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:30 PM on February 17, 2010


Okay I thought I'd gotten it before. Something is wrong with the matrix. I'll call the wizard.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:32 PM on February 17, 2010


jessamyn: "Yeah let me do that, it's not mission-critical information. And yeah I'm going to New Bedford this week and I'll keep you all posted"

Oops, still in the URL. pb, to the ramparts, stat!
posted by mwhybark at 6:35 PM on February 17, 2010


oops, preview fuckery. NM.
posted by mwhybark at 6:35 PM on February 17, 2010


fixed up!
posted by pb (staff) at 6:42 PM on February 17, 2010


I'll call the wizard.

I hope you didn't have to promise the wizard your firstborn child as payment (FYI, his name is Rumpelstiltskin, if that comes up).
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:46 PM on February 17, 2010


The wizard is fucked, I refuse to reproduce.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:47 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


So... I took a delightful trip to the New Bedford library. They close at 12:30 on Friday thanks to budget cuts. I was "that patron" running in at the last minute, claiming I knew what I was doing and then being caught by a librarian with microfilm wrapped around my wrists five minutes before closing.

However, I know the secret handshake so I got out with the goods. I'll upload a scan later (I'm not home) but I do know this

- in 1973, only three men were needed to operate all the machinery in the building
- according to then-CEO GBP Co was entertaining offers to sell weekly
- their recipe was secret, but did include talc from *India* and "oils from Japan"
- the original formula was obtained "from a conference of physicians in 1906 of the Rhode Island State Medical Association" just as stated in AskMe [that will be my next research avenue]
- maursam's Dad took over the company in 1965 and bought out the other owners and was happy as a clam in 1973

Nothing about the secret talc arrangement but whatever happened it occurred after this article was written.

cub reporter, signing off.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:15 AM on February 19, 2010 [8 favorites]


Oh man, the Rhode Island Medical Society circa 1906 is pretty fascinating stuff. So far I've found these events which occurred.

"Dr W. Louis Chapman exhibited the fluid from an echynococcus cyst of the liver from a camel which died recently at the Park. Dr LFC Garvin reported a case of acute poisoning from the use of a belladonna plaster. Lunch followed adjournment." Lunch!

Also read about a typhoid outbreak because of a sick milkman. And nothing else of interest and I've skimmed all their transcripts for 1906 meetings. Curious.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:57 AM on February 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Hey, regarding the Nevada Desert, I should have been more specific. Talc was only being sold to the big companies and my father was told that he couldn't get it. He had a friend that knew someone almost everywhere and bought truckloads of the talc falsely and they were shipped by semis to the desert where we would have someone pick them up and drive them to Fairhaven. It was the original talc my father had always bought but he didnit like buying things that weren't on the up and up. We all told him it was his livelihood and to hell with it. We did that several times. On the changing of the bins I mentioned, the bins were all made of wood with steel liners. The government came in on one of their inspections one day and told us all the bins had to be pulled out and replaced with solid steel ones for a price of around $250,000. He was too close to retirement to do that so it was shortly thereafter that it was sold. At that time Johnson and Johnson didn't have the solid steel bins either but that was ok. A couple of years later my dad got a call from the owner then asking for the original recipe again because it had been changed so much - cheasy talc and oils. My father already knew it because when you dust your hand with Gold Bond and then turn your hand over - it sticks - because of the talc. He ended up going to New Jersey with his chemist and doing it all over again. I only wish I had been a lawyer.
posted by maursam at 1:07 AM on February 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thanks for dropping in again, maursam!
posted by mwhybark at 5:54 PM on February 20, 2010


Time to get the Gold Bond story published!
posted by five fresh fish at 10:49 PM on February 20, 2010


Wow -- I asked the original question, and can't believe all the cool info that y'all have dug up! Thanks!
posted by spilon at 1:02 PM on February 23, 2010


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