Invention ideas can come from a variety of places. Sometimes inventions are forced by sheer necessity, and sometimes they happen purely by accident. Door-to-door salesman Edwin Cox became an accidental inventor after coming up with an innovative sales technique to get women to buy his pots and pans.
It was the early 1900’s and Cox was trying to sell the latest pots and pans made out of aluminum. But the concept really hadn’t caught on yet and he was having a hard time convincing women to even let him show the wares.
So he came up with an innovative sales and marketing strategy. He would give every woman a free introductory gift for letting him show the product line. He knew it had to be something of value that was complimentary with the pots and pans line and would solve a problem.
He knew one problem was that food was constantly sticking to the pans and women would complain about it. So he decided to create a product that would combine the scrubbing power of steel wool with the cleaning power of soap. He dipped small, steel wool pads into a soapy solution. He let them dry, and kept repeating the process until the steel wool pads were completely saturated with soap.
Before long the demand for the soapy steel wool pads outpaced his sales of pots and pans. Housewives were telling their friends what a great product they were, and Cox was struggling to keep up. He eventually gave up selling pots and pans and went into business for himself, just making the steel wool soap pads.
The name S.O.S came from his wife, who named them after “Save Our Saucepans”.
It’s almost a hundred years later and this simple, yet effective product is still going strong. It goes to show that sometimes the simplest ideas can have tremendous staying power. And you never know where a good invention idea will come from, so always be open to new possibilities.