Why am I stuck on you?

September 8, 2014

On September 8, 1930, Scotch Tape was first marketed by 3M.

The brand and the tape has endured.  That little “snail” dispenser has been pretty much unchanged since 1939.  The following story is reblogged from Wired.


1930: 3M begins marketing the first waterproof, transparent, pressure-sensitive tape after employee Richard Drew figures out how to coat strips of cellophane with adhesive.

Initially sold by the St. Paul, Minnesota, company as a moisture-proof seal for bakers, grocers and meatpackers, the product quickly got repurposed during the Depression by money-strapped consumers who used the tape as a cheap home-repair tool.

“Cellophane Tape” picked up the “Scotch” tag, according to legend, when a St. Paul car dealer became annoyed because the cellulose ribbons originally only had adhesive on the borders. Slagging 3M (known in those days as the Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Co.) for being stingy, he invoked Scotland’s penny-pinching reputation and dubbed the product “Scotch tape.”

The name stuck.

In 1939, 3M introduced its so-called “snail” dispenser, which remains in use today. Less durable was the company’s kilt-wearing mascot “Scotty McTape.” Introduced in 1944, the logo became a fixture in the ’50s, when Scotch tape, heavily advertised on TV, dominated its market sector so thoroughly that it became a brand name on par with Kleenex and Coke.

3M had rolled out so many variations of the basic product by 1978 that Saturday Night Live spoofed the product with a skit about a store that sells nothing but Scotch tape.

Outside the pop-culture realm, the tape attached itself to scientific research. Russian experimenters demonstrated in 1953 that if they peeled a roll of Scotch tape in a vacuum, the resulting triboluminescence produced X-rays.

American scientists proved in 2008 that the tape’s triboluminescent radiation was strong enough to leave an X-ray image of a finger on photographic paper.

Highbrow recognition came in 2004 when New York’s Museum of Modern Art exhibited Scotch tape as one of its “indispensable masterpieces of design.”

Sales show no sign of winding down. 3M reports that enough tape is sold annually to circle the globe 165 times.

More information here at the 3M tape site.

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