Back to Home

Even More Things You Didn't Know About J&J

Profile picture for user mgurowi
By Margaret Gurowitz
May 18, 2010

BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages

A Design Classic!

1.  What do BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages have in common with the @ symbol on your computer keyboard?  They’re both part of the permanent design collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  Here’s the link to the BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandage entry on the MOMA design collection website.  (By the way, because the product is in the collection of an art museum, Earle Dickson, the inventor of BAND-AID®, is listed as the artist on the site!)

2.  There was a fourth Johnson in the early days of Johnson & Johnson!  William Johnson, a relative of Company founders Robert Wood Johnson, James Wood Johnson and Edward Mead Johnson, was listed as being in charge of the Company’s facilities in Highland Park, New Jersey – right across the river from New Brunswick.  Here’s a photo from our archives of one of the Highland Park buildings he managed:

The Old Suspensory Mill in Highland Park, New Jersey

3.  Decades ago, we built a plant in Texas that was completely underground.  Here’s a photo.

Strange But True:  We Have an Underground Plant

4.  Two very popular consumer products from the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies started out as surgical products.  Can you name them?  LISTERINE® Antiseptic and the K-Y® Brand of products.  LISTERINE® was first formulated in 1879 as a surgical antiseptic, and the K-Y® Brand -- originally including an analgesic (K-Y® Analgesic) and a surgical lubricant (K-Y® Lubricating Jelly).  What else do they have in common?  They both joined the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies as part of an acquisition:  LISTERINE® was part of the acquisition of Pfizer Consumer Healthcare in 2006, and K-Y® was part of our acquisition of a small company called Van Horn & Sawtell in 1917.  Van Horn & Sawtell made sutures and other surgical products.

Early LISTERINE® Bottles and K-Y® Analgesic

5.  We once had a building in New Brunswick that had stained glass windows representing the different departments in Johnson & Johnson.  The windows were created especially for the Company, and each window pictured a different employee selected to represent his or her department.

6.  Johnson & Johnson has something in common with the Empire State Building and the Louvre. And that would be…architects.  In the 1930s, Shreve, Lamb & Harmon, the architectural firm that had just finished building the world’s tallest building when it was completed in 1934 – the Empire State Building, was hired to build the one-story Personal Products Company plant in Central New Jersey.   So what about the Louvre?  I.M. Pei, the architect who built the modern glass and steel entrance to the Louvre, also designed and built our World Headquarters in New Brunswick, and the headquarters of our Consumer operating company, also in New Jersey.

Charles Heber Clark

Charles Heber Clark:  Board Member and Humorist

7.  In the early days of Johnson & Johnson, a member of our Board of Directors was ranked alongside Mark Twain as a writer and humorist, and he even may have inspired Twain to write A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.   That Board member was Charles Heber Clark, who wrote under the pen name Max Adeler.

Joyce Kilmer

Joyce Kilmer: Poet, Author, Soldier...and writer for Johnson & Johnson

8.   And while we're on the topic of writers, Joyce Kilmer, the famed World War I poet and son of Company scientific director Fred Kilmer, wrote articles for some early Johnson & Johnson publications.  It would have been hard for him to refuse…his father was the editor!

Dr. Grosvenor's Bellcapsic Plaster

Dr. Grosvenor's Bellcapsic Plaster:  if the package looks like a cigar box, that's because it was originally a cigar box!

9.  The Johnson brothers were very resourceful when it came to packaging the Company's early products.  In our early days, Johnson & Johnson bought cigar boxes from the local cigar box manufacturer in New Brunswick, New Jersey, to use as packaging for some of our medicated plasters.


And if observant blog readers have noticed that these jars look like fruit jars, they would be absolutely correct!  There was also a fruit jar manufacturer in New Brunswick, and we bought jars from them to package some of our sterile dressings.  Why?  Because the jars could be hermetically sealed to keep the dressings sterile.  Besides reinventing existing packaging over 100 years ago, we also were one of the very first to use a strange new packaging innovation from another local manufacturer that's now a standard -- collapsible tubes.  Here's JOHNSON'S® Shaving Cream Soap in a collapsible tube.

Share this article

Read 19 comments
Full name will be displayed as entered.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
By submitting your comments, you agree that your comments may be made available to the public. All comments will be reviewed before posting, and if approved, will be shared publicly on the site. Please do not include any information and/or comments that you would like to remain private. 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.. Issues not related to the history of J&J, including any product complaints, will be forwarded to the appropriate Johnson & Johnson team for follow-up as appropriate. This site will not publish any comments that have inappropriate language... so be nice! We will use the information you submit in accordance with our  Privacy Policy.
Nancy Lewin
MAY 19, 2010 04:10 PM

I love your posts, Margaret!! They are so interesting! What did we make in the underground plant??
Also, I know we made a metal spitoon cup, and a disposable spitoon cup, for people with coughing diseases. Could you write about those (if you haven't already?) It is so upsetting and moving to think that once coughs were so bad, so chronic, and so accepted that products like that were common. We are so lucky to be working at one of the many companies that helped eradicate (or mostly eradicate, unfortunately) illnesses like Tuberculosis, Pertussis, etc.
Thank you again for these fascinating stories!

MAY 20, 2010 10:16 AM

In reply to by Nancy Lewin

Hi Nancy! It was an Ethicon, Inc. plant, so we made sutures and other products from that operating company there. I haven't blogged in detail about the spitoon cups, but I will in the future. They were among the many public health products we made in the days before antibiotics and most vaccines, when many infectious diseases like diphtheria, cholera and TB were much more prominent. Products like that really give you a window on what life was like back then, and how we helped people keep themselves and their families healthy with those products and with information.


Chase Watts
MAY 20, 2010 11:03 PM

Wow! I normally don't do too much commenting on blogs, but I have to say that this was a excellent post! Keep the great posts coming and I will be sure to bookmark your blog ;)

MAY 21, 2010 05:14 AM

Very intersting article to read and would be looking forward to more articles based on Johnson and Johnson's history.

Phil Dahlin
MAY 21, 2010 08:57 AM

Your teasers in the ENN are great and always drive me to the blog! Keep up the creative writing.
BTW - we still "have" the San Angelo underground plant - the caption says "had".

MAY 21, 2010 10:28 AM

In reply to by Phil Dahlin

Hi Phil,

I didn't realize we still had the San Angelo underground plant!! I will change it to the present tense.



MAY 24, 2010 02:33 PM


Thankx a lot, your article is quite informative. Would love to read more if you have posted in any other articles.


MAY 25, 2010 10:54 AM

In reply to by Nilesh


There are plenty of posts on Kilmer House that talk about a wide variety of things in our history! Every so often I do a post like this one that compiles a group of facts about Johnson & Johnson. Here are the links to two more posts like this one:

Even More Facts You Didn't Know About Johnson & Johnson:

We Made WHAT?! Continued...

10 Things You Didn't Know About J&J:



MAY 25, 2010 10:48 AM

In reply to by Pam


The windows were eventually taken out of the building (which is no longer here -- it was one of the old brick buildings), put into frames and given to the families of the employees they depicted. I had the privilege to see two of them several years ago. They are absolutely beautiful. The children and grandchildren of those employees have the framed windows in their homes.


MAY 24, 2010 04:30 PM

Excellent post! Very interesting!
I can't imagine how long it took to do a research this thorough. Very well done.
Just one extra comment: that Charles Heber Clark really looks like a humorist! I can't help but laugh when I look at him!
Thanks for the post!

Angela Culicigno
MAY 25, 2010 04:39 AM

Hi Margaret,
Thanks for those stories. I am very interested in the Johnson&Johnson history and epecially in the packaging curiosities (I am a packaging development engineer!).
Would be looking forward to more articles on Johnson and Johnson’s packaging-related history!

Jy Lee
MAY 25, 2010 04:43 AM

Hi Margaret. This is REALLY interesting story.
I loved reading it. Do you happend to have similar stories about Johnson's (baby) brand? If not, could you let me know the best person to contact with? Thanks,

MAY 25, 2010 11:01 AM

In reply to by JY Lee


There are plenty of stories about the JOHNSON'S® Baby brand on the blog! From the invention of JOHNSON'S® Baby Powder to advertising to interesting facts about the products, and more. If you scroll down on the right side of the blog, there's a search window, and if you type in Baby Powder and other key words, it will pull up the posts. Here are some of them:

Video post, includes how JOHNSON'S® Baby Powder came about:

Wonderful Mother (post about advertising):

Even More Facts You Didn't Know About Johnson & Johnson:

JOHNSON'S® Baby Powder:

The Birth of Our Baby Products:

Hope that helps!


JUNE 10, 2010 10:04 AM

In reply to by Annette

Hi Annette,

We don't know who actually made the windows, but they were created as a special project by General Robert Wood Johnson. An employee was selected to represent each department of Johnson & Johnson, a photograph was taken of the employee "at work," and the photos were used as the models for the windows. I've seen two of the windows, and they are incredibly beautiful. I was told by the children of two of the employees who were depicted in the windows that the windows originally were in the Johnson & Johnson building that housed Human Resources -- which was called "Personnel" back then.