Fun Fact November 2, 2020
2 November 2020
Are you staying spick and span? Your mind probably immediately went to the household cleaning product, right? The phrase, or at least the span part of it, dates back to the 1300’s. “Span-new” meant as new as a freshly cut wood chip, like those that would be used to make spoons. In a metaphor dating from at least 1300, something span-new was neat and unstained. Spic was added in the 16th century, meaning a spike or nail and was another metaphor for something neat and trim. The modern cleaner was invented by Elizabeth “Bet” MacDonald and Naomi Stenglein in Saginaw, Michigan in 1933. Their formula included equal parts of ground-up glue, sodium carbonate, and trisodium phospate, though trisodium phosphate is no longer part of the modern formula out of a concern for environmental damage. In 1945 Proctor and Gamble purchased the product for 1.9 million dollars. You might say that Bet and Naomi cleaned up.