The Little Yellow Box
The Arm & Hammer Brand Baking Soda has been a staple of American life since 1846. The brand once only used for baking enjoyed a resurgence of interest in the 1970's by reinventing itself and its usefulness without changing a single ingredient. The new marketing campaign would eventually expand the Arm & Hammer brand to include deodorants, laundry detergents, cleaning supplies, and even toothpaste. An interesting history with many interesting uses in such an uninteresting little yellow box we are all familiar with, Arm & Hammer Baking Soda has become as Americana as apple pie and baseball. In fact, you probably can't even name one other brand of baking soda, can you?
The Little Yellow Box
Though we are all familiar with the little yellow box in our refrigerators or in our mothers pantries many of us would be amazed at what can be done with the contents of that little yellow box. Arm & Hammer Baking Soda has been used as a toothpaste, a remedy for bee stings, a fire extinguisher, a pot-scrubber, a facial scrub, a battery acid neutralizer, a laundry additive, a carpet freshener, a way to test the pH in your gardening soil, a litter box freshener, a remedy for fleas, it even removes tea stains from old plastic drinking cups (Thomlison, n.d.). These are just a few of the consumer uses for Arm & Hammer Baking Soda, not to mention the commercial and industrial uses such as an abrasive blast for removal of surface coatings, in water treatment facilities, air pollution control, as an additive in oil well drilling fluids, and even as an alternative to CFC's in the electronics industry (Thomlison, n.d.). Started in 1846 by Dr. Austin Church in Rochester, New York was the first American factory for the production of saleratus or sodium bicarbonate. Dr. Church felt he had a better and cheaper way to manufacture this popular additive in American rather than to continue importing it from Europe. His brother-in-law, John Dwight, an ambitious gentleman and convincing salesman traveled from grocer to market promoting the American made substance creating a substantial customer base. The company was re-named John Dwight & Company and they called their baking soda product, Cow Brand Baking Soda (Wikipedia, 2005). Soon after Dr. Church retired in 1867, his two sons began their own firm called Church & Co. with a factory in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, New York. Dr. Church's son, James, once owner of Vulcan Spice Mills, which went out of business, decided to use what is now known as the ARM & HAMMER® logo (Wikipedia, 2005). The symbol depicting Vulcan, the mythical god of fire is depicted by the anatomically impossible image of a left shoulder and a right hand holding a hammer (Baking Soda, n.d.). This is also the symbol of the Socialist Labor Party of America and had been used even prior to the American Civil War as a symbol of the labor movement (Baking Soda, n.d.). This was the symbol Church & Co. chose to use on their packages of baking soda. Both brands represented the finest-quality product and were equally popular with homemakers. The companies of Church & Co. and John Dwight & Company finally merged in 1896 to form Church & Dwight Co., Inc., the two logos of Cow Brand Baking Soda and Arm & Hammer Baking Soda were both featured in consumer advertising and on packages for sale depending on the markets they were sold in (Baking Soda, n.d.). In 1960, Cow Brand Baking Soda was discontinued in favor of the more memorable Arm & Hammer logo.
Church & Dwight Co. used many forms of advertisement and self promotion over the years to spread the word about the various uses of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda. Through trading cards, recipe cards, and collectible tins the company constantly promoted the safe, natural, pure benefits and attributes of this wonder product ("Baking Soda Gets Out of the Box", 2004). Arm & Hammer Baking Soda had enjoyed almost total...