Kutol Products Company

From Ohio History Central

Kutol Products Company is a soap manufacturing company in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was founded in 1912. By 1927, the company was facing closure. Cleo McVicker determined to save the company and hired his brother, Noah W. McVicker, to manage the plant. Under the McVickers' leadership, the company's prospects improved. Cleo served as the company salesman, while Noah managed the plant and helped to develop new products.

In 1933, Cleo approached the Kroger Company about manufacturing wallpaper cleaner for the grocery store chain. Kroger officials agreed to replace their current cleaner with one manufactured by Kutol Products. Cleo agreed to provide Kroger with fifteen thousand cases of cleaner. If he failed to do so on time, Kutol Products was required to pay Kroger five thousand dollars in fines. This amount of money would have bankrupted Kutol Products. Unfortunately for the McVicker brothers, Kutol Products had never manufactured wallpaper cleaner before. Nevertheless, Kutol Products made the deadline.

Over the next twenty years, Kutol Products primarily manufactured soap and wallpaper cleaner. The company became the largest wallpaper cleaner manufacturer in the world during this period. Unfortunately for the firm, by the 1950s and 1960s, wallpaper cleaner was less in demand. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, many people used coal furnaces to heat their homes and businesses. The coal furnaces commonly distributed dust throughout the buildings, requiring constant cleaning. By the 1950s, electric, oil, and natural gas furnaces began to replace coal burning ones. Once again, Kutol Products faced closure.

In 1949, Cleo McVicker died in a plane crash. His widow, Irma McVicker hired her son, Joseph McVicker, and her son-in-law, Bill Rhodenbaugh, to reverse the company's downward spiral. Joseph McVicker soon realized that Kutol Products' wallpaper cleaner also could be used as a pliable modeling clay. In 1955, he tested the product in Cincinnati-area schools and daycares. The following year, the Woodward & Lothrop Department Store in Washington, D.C. began to sell the clay, which McVicker had named Play-Doh.

In 1956, Joseph McVicker and his uncle, Noah McVicker, created the Rainbow Crafts Company, Inc. The sole purpose of this company was to manufacture and sell Play-Doh. Originally Play-Doh came in 1.5 pound boxes and was an off-white color. The company also quickly offered red, yellow, and blue Play-Doh in gallon cans. Due to the large size of the packaging, the Rainbow Crafts Company began selling Play-Doh in eleven ounce packages. Kutol Products continued to manufacture soap and other cleaners, but Rainbow Crafts Company, Inc., became the sole manufacturer of Play-Doh.

Kutol Products remains in operation today. It remains in Cincinnati and continues to manufacture soaps and other cleaners.

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