The first deodorant ever made and trademarked was called Mum, it was a cream that one was meant to rub under their armpits and then go about their sweaty day.
This was patented in 1888, by a U.S. inventor who ‘has been lost to history’. The company was eventually bought by what we know today as ban deodorant.
In the past, perspiration and body odour was masked by washing and perfume, but the bacteria in our sweat – which thrives in humid conditions – can beat these attempts, and a noticeable smell emerges.
According to Smithsonian.com, body odour was initially thought to be a female problem and that men were meant to stink – it was a show of masculinity.
A 1928 survey of male employees revealed the era’s opinions of deodorants and antiperspirants. ‘I consider a body deodorant for masculine use to be sissified,’ noted one responder. ‘I like to rub my body in pure grain alcohol after a bath but do not do so regularly,’ asserts another.
It was considered weak to cover the male smell, therefore when marketing started for this new invention, the campaigns were mostly directed at women – even though the ladies sweat less than men do.
The message to women was clear: If you want to keep a man, you’d better not smell.
We know now that this view eventually changed, today the billion dollar deodorant industry thrives thanks to both male and female customers.
Just look at the modern Old Spice campaigns – branded with the well-known slogan, ‘Smell like a man’. Turns out today we prefer to smell like fresh laundry and not BO.
Oh, how the times have changed.