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How Duct Tape Saved My Life/History of Duct Tape

Photo: Homie Kates

THIS is my new duct tape!  Yup, zebra print!!!  I know, I know, most men are upset…why are women messin’ with THEIR duct tape?  It’s “man’s tape” and it shouldn’t be made in any color other than silver or gray (which incidentally, I call “muted charcoal”).  Because it’s cool to have unique designs and color, that’s why!  You hear people talk about new ways they used duct tape all the time….we all have a story, what’s yours?  Mine…..Duct tape saved my life!We were camping on an island in the Boundary Waters that we could only get to by paddling a canoe up a river.  Yes, going in was beautiful, mystical and an awesome experience….then, the winds came!  And never left!!!  We had torrential monsoon winds making my entire three day stay blustery.  There was even talk of not being able to leave the day we were scheduled because the wind was causing waves that would swamp our canoe…. and I began to panic.  I had committed to model clothes at a Crystal party (yeah, don’t ask me, it was kinda weird) and nothing was going to stop me from being there….so I whined and whined, until the guys in our camping party came up with this plan…DUCT TAPE OUR CANOES TOGETHER WITH THICKER BIRCH TREE BRANCHES, LIKE AN OUTRIGGER).

Sounded good to me!  Let’s roll!  Was I nuts?  It was insane….I could only paddle on one side because of the other canoe strapped to ours.  Water was coming over the sides of our canoe so I had to stop paddling and bail every few minutes. But, that duct tape held firm and the four of us made it to the other side of the lake to the river. To this day, I don’t know how the other two guys made it back across the lake in those conditions, but, they did. That’s how duct tape saved my life (and 3 others!)

Here’s the History of Duct Tape:

So how did this sticky wonder come about? It was World War II and there was a need for a strong, flexible, durable, waterproof tape that could seal canisters, repair cracked windows, repair trucks and help the war effort in general. Permacell, a division of the Johnson and Johnson Company, stepped up to this challenge.

Using medical tape as a base, they applied two new technologies. Polycoat adhesives gave the tape its unshakable stick and polyethylene coating allowed them to laminate the tape to a cloth backing, making it extremely strong and flexible. The resulting tape was nicknamed “Duck Tape” for its ability to repel water, while ripping easily into strips for fast convenient use.

After the war the tape was put to the more civilian use of holding ducts together. So the product changed from a nameless army green tape to the familiar gray duct tape.

Thirty years later, Jack Kahl, former CEO of Manco, Inc., changed the name of the product to Duck Tape® and put ‘Manco T. Duck’ on the Duck Tape® logo, giving personality to a commodity product. Manco, Inc. also began to shrink-wrap and label the product, making it easier to stack for retailers, and easier to distinguish different grades for customers.

Now, over 50 years after its invention, Duck® tape is sold in more than 20 colors and is touted by its followers for having a nearly endless amount of uses. What will happen to Duck Tape®? What advancements in Duck Tape® technology will be made? Only time will tell.

You can even belong to a Duck Tape Club!  So fess up, what was one unconventional way YOU used duct tape?

via History of Duct Tape and Duck® brand.

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