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This is huge news, so we did a special edition of Duct Tape on a Roll...

For years, we've been saying that duct tape was invented for the United States Military during World War II by the Johnson and Johnson Permacel Division. Its first use was to keep moisture out of ammunition cases. All of which is pretty much true... but we just received this additional information that tells more of the story. The origins of duct tape may actually lead to a woman...

Dixon, Illinois Ordnance Plant worker Vesta Stoudt, may lay claim to the idea that led to the birth of duct tape during World War II.

(from the Chicago Sunday Tribune, October 24, 1943)

Vesta Stoudt, …went to work at the Green River Ordnance plant in Dixon, IL., because she had two sons in the Navy and wanted to help them.  She was assigned to inspect and wrap cartridges used to fire rifle grenades. The cartridges were packed in small boxes which were waxed and taped to protect them against moisture. The tape, made of this paper, included a paper tab which a soldier could jerk to open the box quickly.

It was a simple process; about the last that anyone might have though could be improved or changed.
But Mrs. Vesta Stoudt, the mother with two Navy sons, was different; she had an alert eye and an imaginative mind. She noted that the paper tab was weak. It tore away from the tape which was supposed to come off with it. This would compel a soldier to dig to open a box of cartridges.
Seconds are precious when an enemy is luring. How much better would it be if the tab were made of strong cloth, Mrs. Stout thought.

[When Mrs. Stout related her idea to her superiors] they said, "Oh, forget it. Don't be silly. The government knows what it's doing. You can't do anything about the government."

"Well, the government can make mistakes as well as anyone else," Mrs. Stoudt snapped back.
Whereupon Mrs. Stoudt wrote to President Roosevelt. After explaining her suggestion, she said to the President: "Now your son, my son, and our neighbor's son must pull this tape off some way. perhaps with his teeth or his knife, if he is luck enough to have one - nice chances out of ten he hasn't any. The enemy has time to kill hundreds of our men, while they have been trying to open the box to get the cartridges.

"We can't let them down by giving them a box of cartridges that takes a minute or two to open, enabling the enemy to take lives that might be saved had the box been taped with strong tape that can be opened in a split second. Please, Mr. President, do something about this at once; not tomorrow or soon, but now. We packed nearly 10,000 today on my shift and all wrong."

Mrs. Stoudt learned that the army's Ordnance Department works fast. In about two weeks she was informed by Co. S. R. Stribling of the Office of Chief of Ordnance at Washington that her suggestion had been put into effect. "This office wishes to thank you for your excellent suggestion and will give careful consideration to any future suggestions you may offer," Co. Stribling wrote her. "It is cooperation of this type the will win the war."

So there you have it - more information than we could ever find when researching the history of duct tape seventeen years ago for our second book (even when we contacted the Johnson and Johnson Permacel Division (originally, Revolite Corporation until 1947 when it was renamed the Industrial Tape Corporation - in 1953 the name was changed to Permacel), the manufacturers of the original "duct" tape). Thanks to Kari Santo for providing us with this can find it. - The Duct Tape Guys

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