This 1940/50’s Kotex sanitary napkin dispenser resides in our bathroom (for show only). My husband got this hand-me-down from his pops a handful of years ago. Each napkin costs 5 cents and, fully operational, there’s still several safety pinned products inside (the box is stamped with 1959). Thank God for progress! That’s right, you just safety pinned them to your undies, which in turn revolutionized ladies’ underwear fashions.
[Gents, if this is TMI, we’ll catch up next time over something really manly, but I’m too fascinated to stop…]
Apparently the safety pin concept materialized in the early 1900’s, but was later perfected by Kotex (simply a combination of the words “cotton” and “texture”) in 1920 (incidentally the same time frame diluted Lysol was used as vaginal disinfectant and post coital birth control. Just wow.).
This machine is from the Hospital Specialty Co., which began in 1919 manufacturing feminine hygiene products. Dispensers were put in restrooms and stores because these taboo products were originally rejected for shelf purchase. But, with supply and demand women were finally able to purchase their doodads over the counter. The first adhesive strip pads didn’t hit the market until 1969, while tampons were first patented in 1931.
This item has been a fun conversation piece for our guests and I still thank my lucky stars that the wheel has been reinvented.
I found most of my information at, get this, “History of Periods” (dot com). But also at wikipedia and Hospital Specialty Co.
PS post categorized under “accessories”. ha.