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Vaseline: The Untold Story of A Simple Jelly Becoming A Household Hero

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Vaseline: The Untold Story of A Simple Jelly Becoming A Household Hero

We’ve all used this product over the years, and it has become an unforgettable part of your home as winter sets in every year. Dry skin and this product are like two peas in a pod. Whether you have chapped lips or need to lubricate your machinery, this product comes to your rescue. Are you wondering what we are talking about?

Well, this weekend, we have an incredible story where a simple throwaway wax became the source of an incredible product that has served us for decades.

Want to know what we are talking about? Read on

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An Unexpected Discovery

A young Englishman raised in New York, chemist Robert Chesebrough, lost his job of clarifying kerosene from whale oil to a new discovery — easier-to-access underground oil in Pennsylvania. 

The year was 1859, and Robert was just 22. Instead of resenting his job loss, Robert spent his life savings touring the oil fields in Pennsylvania’s Titusville. 

He observed an unusual practice among field workers—applying a wax-like substance to their bodies. They called it rod wax and claimed it healed wounds faster. 


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Finding Magic in Worthless Wax

Robert saw a profitable business idea in the wax most people considered worthless. He was so sure, that he spent 10 long years refining and transforming it into a colorless and odorless jelly. 

However, pharmacists initially rejected petroleum jelly, which is the go-to skincare product today. It was despite Robert inflicting wounds on his skin and treating it with his wonder jelly to prove its healing properties. 

But Robert did not give up. The master marketer decided he would take his product to the people to demonstrate its worth. 


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Wonder Jelly Launched

It took another year of hard work before Robert could officially launch his ‘Wonder Jelly’ in 1870 — Vaseline. Thanks to his relentless promotion, over 1,400 tins flew off the shelves daily by 1874.

From soothing babies to finding an avid fan in Queen Victoria to treat dry skin, Vaseline became a household hero, synonymous with healing and protection. 


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Tub Turns into a War Hero

In the 1900s, Vaseline’s iconic blue and yellow tub became common in homes. Besides soothing skin, it also lubricated machinery and so much more. Vaseline wasn’t just a remedy anymore; it was known worldwide for its gentle and effective skincare.

Vaseline marched right in when America joined the World Wars. Soldiers used it to treat sore feet in the trenches. The demand was so high that letters flew home asking for more! 

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Going Global

From a young chemist in a Brooklyn garage to taking a trip around the world, Vaseline saw it all.

Chesebrough ran the show until 1908, spreading its magic everywhere.  Factories were set up in New Jersey (US), Canada, Europe, and Africa, and Vaseline became a global skincare superstar. 

Later, in 1955, Vaseline joined forces with another big name, Pond’s Extract, to become Chesebrough-Ponds.

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Lotion Revolution 

In the 1960s, Vaseline evolved, launching its “Intensive Care™ Lotion” for dry skin and sun-kissed days. But it wasn’t just a lotion; it was a movement.

The iconic “Working Hands of America” campaign featured people from all walks of life. Their hands clapping together symbolized unity and the power of Vaseline to care for everyone.

Finally, in 1987, Unilever brought Chesebrough-Ponds under its wing, making Vaseline part of a family of awesome brands.

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Beyond Healing

When Unilever realized our lips and hands needed some extra love, Vaseline Lip Therapy and Vaseline Hand & Nail Formula were born.

These little lifesavers tackled chapped lips and rough hands with their special formulas, ensuring every inch of us stayed soft and happy. 


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Celebrity Status

Vaseline didn’t stop at just being a reliable jelly. The company upped its game in the 1980s with vitamin-enriched formulas for specific needs like hydration and anti-aging. 

By the 2000s, they embraced the aloe vera craze, offering soothing options. Collaborations with celebs like Jennifer Lopez and Emma Watson helped Vaseline reach new audiences. 

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Healing Lives of the Underserved

Vaseline went beyond healing just the skin. In 2015, Unilever and the charitable organization Direct Relief launched The Vaseline Healing Project to provide dermatological care, Vaseline Jelly, and medical supplies to people affected by poverty, disasters, and emergencies. 

The project has helped over 1 million lives annually in 86+ countries, with an aim to triple this figure by 2030, demonstrating a deep commitment to lasting change.

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The Revenue Giant

As years have rolled by, Vaseline’s empire has only grown stronger. Unilever’s acquisition became a cornerstone of the company’s revenue stream. This strategic move contributed an estimated 5% to the company’s total revenue in the first year alone. 

Today, Vaseline remains a key player, generating billions in annual sales and maintaining a dominant global presence. In 2022, it was ranked the number 1 body lotion brand in 32 countries. 

According to Emergent Research’s analysis, the worldwide Industrial Vaseline Market reached a size of $490.8 million in 2022 and is expected to reach $744.1 million by 2032. It’s projected to experience a revenue CAGR of 4.2% throughout the forecast period. 

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Innovation Meets Sustainability

With great success came great responsibility. Recognizing the pressing need for sustainability and ethical practices, Vaseline switched to recycled packaging, slashed its carbon footprint, and sourced ingredients responsibly.
It wasn’t just about protecting skin but also the planet.

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Standing Tall

Despite fierce competition from Nivea, Eucerin, and local giants like Fair & Lovely, Vaseline has held strong. Known for its quality and reliability, it has ventured into new territories with hand sanitizers and body washes. 

A savvy online presence keeps Vaseline relevant for the next generation. Vaseline’s “Equity for All Skin” campaign was one of the most successful campaigns that celebrated diversity in skin types and tones. 

The campaign’s message resonated widely, encouraging people to embrace their natural skin highlighting Vaseline’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity.

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Continued Evolution

Vaseline’s journey is a testament to the power of a simple idea that evolved into a brand with a purpose today.

You don’t need a crystal ball to know Vaseline’s future is brighter than ever. With its focus on innovation and sustainability, the brand is poised to be a household hero for future generations. Are you ready for targeted product lines and a greener, cleaner Vaseline?

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I’m Archana R. Chettiar, an experienced content creator with
an affinity for writing on personal finance and other financial content. I
love to write on equity investing, retirement, managing money, and more.

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