See a fax clip sheet.
Later Kotex tampons: Fibs (started 1930s) and Comfortube (1967).
CONTRIBUTE to Humor, Words and expressions about menstruation and Would you stop menstruating if you could?
Some MUM site links:
MUM address & What does MUM mean? |
Email the museum |
Privacy on this site |
Who runs this museum?? |
Amazing women! |
Art of menstruation |
Artists (non-menstrual) |
Asbestos |
Belts |
Bidets |
Founder bio |
Bly, Nellie |
MUM board |
Books: menstruation and menopause (and reviews) |
Cats |
Company booklets for girls (mostly) directory |
Contraception and religion |
Costumes |
Menstrual cups |
Cup usage |
Dispensers |
Douches, pain, sprays |
Essay directory |
Extraction |
Facts-of-life booklets for girls |
Famous women in menstrual hygiene ads |
Founder/director biography |
Gynecological topics by Dr. Soucasaux |
Humor |
Huts |
Links |
Masturbation |
Media coverage of MUM |
Menarche booklets for girls and parents |
Miscellaneous |
Museum future |
Norwegian menstruation exhibit |
Odor |
Olor |
Pad directory |
Patent medicine |
Poetry directory |
Products, some current |
Puberty booklets for girls and parents|
Religion |
Religión y menstruación |
Your remedies for menstrual discomfort |
Menstrual products safety |
Seguridad de productos para la menstruación |
Science |
Shame |
Slapping, menstrual |
Sponges |
Synchrony |
Tampon directory |
Early tampons |
Teen ads directory |
Tour of the former museum (video) |
Underpants & panties directory |
Videos, films directory |
Words and expressions about menstruation |
Would you stop menstruating if you could? |
What did women do about menstruation in the past? |
Washable pads |
Read 10 years (1996-2006) of articles and Letters to Your MUM on this site.
Leer la versión en español de los siguientes temas: Anticoncepción y religión, Breve reseña - Olor - Religión y menstruación - Seguridad de productos para la menstruación.

The Museum of Menstruation and Women's Health

Nunap and fax: the first Kotex menstrual tampons?
Maybe the first commercial tampons anywhere?
(Early-to-mid 1930s, U.S.A.)
Introduction and boxes (below)

About 1997, I think, I held a contest on this site, offering $500 to the person coming up with the best date for the fax tampon, and another $500 to the person sending photocopies of the most advertising for fax (s)he had found in publications of the 1930s (or whenever).

Boy, was I excited! The ten-month or so contest period drew down to the final weeks. Contestants were guarding their findings very carefully, not wanting anyone else to see what they had found and thereby giving away any advantage they had for that 500 bucks! I knew that because so far I had not received any entries.

Well, the date for submission of entries came and went. No one sent a thing. No one even tried, apparently, because I got no e-mail saying, "I looked and looked! Are you kidding? Was fax even on the market?"

I write this partly to explain the uncertainty of the date for fax (and Nunap), partly to vent at the possibly easy money that had lain there for someone, and finally to complain that maybe no one was even looking at this site! I'm still mad.

I've now calmed down and feel better. Thanks, thanks, for your sympathy. No, no, that's enough. Stop. I'm OK.

I had always assumed that Fibs, which appeared in the late 1930s, was the first Kotex tampon - does anyone else even think about these things? - but I believe our two tampons of the hour may have been the first, or at least very early ones. At the time of the contest, I believed that fax might have even been the first commercial tampon.

And now - February 2006 - I read in "Shared Values: A History of Kimberly-Clark" by Robert Spector (1997), which K-C (the maker of Kotex) sent me in thanks for doing research for them, that Fibs was indeed its first tampon - at least the first one it mentions by name.

But in the early 1920s (according to the book) a young Kotex employee stuffed a condom with Cellucotton (cellulose), the business part of Kotex, punctured the sides of the condom and suggested selling it as a tampon. He showed his father, the first medical consultant for Kotex. The physician was "aghast" and told him to not show anybody because of potential legal problems. (K-C confessed it made a huge mistake by not buying Tampax when it was offered by Gertrude Tenderich about 10 years later.)

Kimberly-Clark, the company that allegedly created Kotex from left-over bandages they made from Cellucotton (cellulose) for World War I American soldiers (read their first ad), started the Cellucotton Products Company (in Chicago) to make and sell Kotex rather than associate the K-C name with menstruation. Later, they wrote on the side of the Fibs box "sponsored by the makers of Kotex," again distancing themselves from the tampon in a curious way.

I don't know why they did it - to test the market without involving the names of K-C or Kotex? - but my feeling is that K-C created two companies, Neway Manufacturing Company, and Sanitary Products Company, both in Chicago with the same address - both had "south" preceding the street name, as did the address for Cellucotton Products Company - to make Nunap ("new napkin") and fax. (A listener to the Howard Stern radio show I was on a few years back suggested that the name referred to the word "facts" on some advertising for it, not reproduced here.) I think I show convincingly that both tampons used Cellucotton for the tampon plug (the part that's supposed to absorb the menstrual blood.) For example, look at the crepe-like material in both tampons, here; the book refers to the "creped wadding material that went into Kotex pads" (p. 67). The instructions on Nunap say it does use Cellucotton (here) and the instructions for fax say the product is made of cellulose (here), which is what Cellucotton is. It could be that the two companies represent two attempts at different times to market a Kotex tampon.

(As I've said later, the addresses for perhaps the world's first
commercial tampons years afterward - I suspect from Kotex -,
Moderne Woman, Nunap and fax, are all today within 9-15 minutes
driving distance of each other and of the address on this ad (at bottom),
as was at least one other Chicago Kotex pad address in 1922.
The tampon company names are not associated with Cellucotton Products Company, Kimberly-Clark or Kotex.
All are within a tight radius in Chicago.
Who was the master behind these innovative products? Um, Kimberly-Clark I bet.)

You'll see in the instructions how the companies explained to women what tampons were, and to reassure them. These tampons were essentially little Kotex pads they inserted into their vaginas - at least that was the pitch.

And like Kotex pads they had very coarse gauze, and even no string, features indicating to me their position at the very beginning of the development of commercial tampons. (The company repeated its gauze mistake in making Kotams.) (Modess pads early on also used coarse gauze.)

The Procter & Gamble company generously donated the Nunap box to the museum as part of a fabulous larger gift; and a woman living near Chicago, who wanted to remain anonymous, gave the museum the fax box as well as many other early tampon items.
NEXT: the tampons, the instructions


The boxes are the same size and from the same company and have identical tampons, except that Nunap is slightly larger.



Above: The bottoms of the boxes.


The back of the fax box, above. There was no separate folder in the box; instructions appeared on the two paper bags inside, each containing five tampons (see instructions).
Compare the back of the Nunap box, below.
NEXT: the tampons, the instructions
See a fax clip sheet.

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