Even More Facts You Didn’t Know About Johnson & Johnson

Margaret on July 28th, 2009 at 5:12PM

Strange But True:  The Baby Powder that Helped Launch a Rocket

1. JOHNSON’S® Baby Powder was used by NASA to help insure the successful launch of the Apollo 8 spacecraft in 1968.  The rocket had a rubber strip holding together a covering that protected a measuring instrument.  NASA needed a means to insure that the rubber strip could slide off freely during the rocket’s launch.  A NASA engineer used some JOHNSON’S® Baby Powder that he brought in from home.  It did the job so well that he planned to use it on all subsequent Apollo launches.  [The Bulletin, The J&J Employee Magazine, February/March 1969, Vol. XXVII, No. 2, p. 10]

 2. In 1970, advice columnist Ann Landers noted in her nationally syndicated newspaper column that Johnson & Johnson in New Brunswick, N.J. had “the most immaculate and best laid out ladies room I’ve ever seen anywhere….”  Ann Landers presumably travelled quite a bit, so that recognition was a singular honor.  [The Bulletin, the Johnson & Johnson Employee Magazine, August 1970, Volume 28, No. 6] 

Medicated Plasters

Some of the Company’s Early Medicated Plasters

3. Medicated plasters, one of our earliest products in the 1800s, could not be manufactured on very humid days, because the humidity interfered with the manufacturing process.  (Which must have been challenging in the pre-air conditioning days over 100 years ago in humid Central New Jersey, where the plasters were manufactured.)   



James Wood Johnson 

4. In 1918 Company president James Wood Johnson was presented with an award by the Russian government for supplying something that helped the Russian army during World War I.  (Russia and the U.S. were allies during World War I.)  Was it sterile bandages or dressings?  No:  it was horseshoes.  Johnson had bought an interest in the Neverslip Horseshoe Company in New Brunswick, which had filled the largest order in its history for the Russian cavalry. We still have one of the horseshoes in our archives today.



McNeil family pharmacy: the origin of one of our operating companies

5. Company founder Robert Wood Johnson, Scientific Director Fred Kilmer, Revra DePuy (founder of our affiliate company DePuy, Inc.), and the McNeil family (founders of McNeil Laboratories, which became part of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies in 1959) all had one thing in common.  What was it?  They all started their careers in retail pharmacies.



Philip B. Hofmann

6. Philip B. Hofmann, chairman and chief executive officer of Johnson & Johnson from 1963 to 1973, spent part of his early career here successfully selling the Company’s most notoriously hard to sell product:  Lister’s Dog Soap.  And by the way, Hofmann’s father — who steered his son toward joining Johnson & Johnson — was a retail pharmacist too.




7. When television became part of American life in the early 1950s, Johnson & Johnson became one of its first major sponsors with TV ads and sponsorship of specific shows.  Some of the early shows the Company sponsored were The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Donna Reed Show, Cheyenne and Gunsmoke.

Open Response to Even More Facts You Didn’t Know About Johnson & Johnson

  1. FANTASTIC!!!!!!!!!! This is fascinating stuff!!! I sincerely hope, Margaret, that you are receiving many rave reviews for your Kilmer Blog. We have such a rich and diverse history in this company. The more I learn, the more I look forward to learning. thanks, Marcia :)

  2. Thank you for publishing these historical blogs. I find the history of J&J very interesting.

  3. Dear Sir,
    It makes me very proud that I work for this gtreat company.
    Every brick is built with utmost care,
    Sir, Johson brothers , I salute You sir for your great vision and care of your employees.

    Best Regards,

  4. Learning about the history of J&J is as fascinating as learning about our history. The information provided has been so beneficial to understanding Johnson & Johnson’s foundation and growth. I will soon be celebrating my 25th anniversary with J&J and I feel extremely proud of working in this family of companies. Thanks for the great briefings!

  5. Margaret,
    This is just outstanding. I have just recently discovered this blog, and I am now hooked. There is something about connecting to your past that very often helps you through the present, particularly when times, like now, are a little tough on the business side. Everytime I read this blog I am reminded once again why i like working for this company so much.
    Is there an archive of all the blog posts that can be accessed somehow.
    Thanks again for all of your hard work with this blog.

  6. It is said, from each & every happening there is a learning. It is great to read the blog in awe & learn the history of Johnson & Johnson. Even the background of this blog ( the very old documented sheet) takes you to the past & increases the involvement of learning process!! Thanks to all those involved in this.

  7. Really enjoy reading these blogs!

  8. What a knowledge we can all share! Thank you…

  9. Learning about the history of J&J is very interesting,
    thanks for the blog!

  10. Mike,

    There is an archive of all posts going back to 2006 when the blog started. If you scroll down the right-hand column of the blog, past the listing of recent posts and recent comments, and underneath the listing of categories, you will find links to the blog’s archives, linked by month and year. The Categories links can also help you to find posts about specific subjects, as can the search window in the right-hand column of the blog.


  11. I very much so enjoyed reading about the history of your company. I came upon this site searching for information on the AUTOKIT No. 8 that I had found years ago. The contents are in unused condition except for the metal box that is a bit marred and the cloth case it is quite warn. I do not know the year. Might you have any idea of or would you be interested in this item? Thank you.

  12. Hi Marsha,

    Without seeing what your Autokit looks like, it would be hard to tell what year it’s from. We started making them with the advent of the automobile in the early 1900s. If you email me a picture at mgurowi@its.jnj.com I can try to get a date on the Autokit for you. While we are unable to reimburse for an historical product, we do on occasion accept donated products for our museum.



  13. Hi Margaret,

    Fascinating stories! This one’s going up on EMEA Zone today!



  14. Wow–These are fun to read. Even after 29 years with various J&J Companies–I have not been previously exposed to some of these interesting tid-bits about our Company.


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All comments will be reviewed before posting. Since this blog is about history, topics that don’t directly relate to the history of Johnson & Johnson and its operating companies won’t be posted. Product comments generally will not be posted unless they are of historical interest. Some unrelated issues may be forwarded to Johnson & Johnson folks for follow-up as appropriate. I’m also not going to post any comments that have inappropriate language...so be nice!