Cellucotton is the raw material used to make bandages, tissues, sanitary napkins, and tampons.
In 1886, Johnson & Johnson introduced predecessor product “Lister’s Towels,” the first disposable menstrual product, sold primarily in Europe.
Eventually, Kimberly-Clark (“K-C”) invented “Cellucotton” ー a highly absorbent wood-pulp by-product ー as a bandage for WWI. No sooner did the WWI nurses receive the new bandage material than the French realized its utility for menstruation. Eventually, nurses brought cellucotton from Europe to the US after the war. In 1919, years after its invention, Kimberly-Clark patented cellucotton.
After the war Kimberly-Clark created the Kotex brand and released the first sanitary napkin advertisement, in January 1921. Kimberly-Clark created a wholly owned subsidiary, the “International Cellucotton Products Company”. The paper company hid its ties to feminine hygiene products for decades.
Initially, Kotex pads did not sell well. Eventually, advertising legend Albert Lasker created the idea of allowing women to pay for Kotex by putting money in a box to avoid embarrassing interactions with store clerks, who were often men. Afterward, Lasker also created teaching schoolgirls about menstruation in school and coined the term “sanitary napkins.” He later worked with Kimberly-Clark to launch Kleenex disposable tissues.