Bon Ami, French for "Good Friend", is a brand of household cleaner products sold by the Faultless Starch/Bon Ami Company of Kansas City, Missouri, USA. The product's slogan of "Hasn't Scratched Yet!" refers to its ability to not scratch most surfaces. The Bon Ami mascot, a chick emerging from an egg, is a play on that slogan.
Bon Ami's packaging is purported to be among the most eco-friendly on store shelves, being made from recycled/recyclable paper and bottles. Bon Ami's products are biodegradable, non-toxic and hypoallergenic.
The original Bon Ami formula was developed in 1886 by the J.T. Robertson Soap Company as a gentler alternative to quartz-based scouring powders available on store shelves. In those days, scouring powder was made from tallow and finely ground quartz. When quartz was mined, it was entwined with a mineral called feldspar, and the two had to be separated by hand. The feldspar was discarded until Robertson discovered that this soft mineral could be combined with soap to create a less-abrasive product that would clean without scratching, resulting in the Bon Ami product.
By 1896, Bon Ami was a common product in northeastern United States households. The chick and slogan "Hasn't Scratched Yet!" are textbook examples of an early American trademark. Consumers in the late 1800s understood that a newborn chick doesn't scratch the ground for three days; thus the correlation to the non-scratching benefits of Bon Ami.
In the early 1900s, A.W. Erickson, founder of McCann Erickson Advertising, revived the brand with full-color pages in leading women's magazines. Noted artist Ben Austrian gained worldwide appeal for his painting of chicks for Bon Ami, and Ben's wife served as the model for the ads.
In 1980, the company again revived the brand with a magazine campaign featuring the headline "Never underestimate the cleaning power of a 94-year-old chick with a French name". During the first 6 months of the campaign, Bon Ami sales rose 12%. It remains one of the top selling powdered cleansers in the United States today.
The Bon Ami website lists the following as main ingredients their various products: feldspar, limestone, water, baking soda, citric acid, corn alcohol, epsom salts, essential oils, xanthan gum .
- Bon Ami Powder Cleanser
- Bon Ami Dish Soap
- Bon Ami All Purpose Cleaner
- Bon Ami Liquid Cleanser
- Bon Ami Cleaning Powder 1886 Formula
In 2011 the Bon Ami company celebrated its 125th anniversary by re-releasing the original cleaning cake for purchase. Limited supplies were offered both with and without a commemorative tin, celebrating the original formula's popularity.
Popular culture references
In the film comedy "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken", whenever people are discussing a particularly gory murder at an old mansion, Bon Ami's cleaning effectiveness is given quite the testimonial. The murder was so gory that blood was found everywhere - even on the organ keys. Despite the efforts to clean the keys, the blood remained to this very day - "and they used Bon Ami!"
In the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel Tender is the Night, first published in 1934, Fitzgerald notes the routine of the character Dick Diver in cleaning up his workroom at his home outside Cannes: "He swept up, for no servants were allowed in there, treated his washroom sketchily with Bon Ami, repaired a screen and sent off an order to a publishing house in Zurich".