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Flit is the brand name for an insecticide.
The original product, invented by chemist Dr. Franklin C. Nelson and launched in 1923 and mainly intended for killing flies and mosquitoes, was mineral oil based and manufactured by the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey before the company, now part of ExxonMobil, renamed itself first Esso and later Exxon. The Esso formulation contained 5% DDT in the late 1940s and early 1950s, before the negative environmental impact of DDT was widely understood. Later marketed as "FLIT MLO," it has since been discontinued. A hand-operated device called a Flit gun was commonly used to perform the spraying.
The Flit brand name has been reused for another insecticide product, with the primary active ingredient of permethrin, marketed by Clarke Mosquito Control. The current product is most often used to control adult mosquitoes. Spraying it into the air kills adult mosquitoes that are present and then by settling onto surfaces it kills mosquitoes that may later land.
"Quick, Henry, the Flit!"
In 1928 Flit, then marketed by a newly formed subsidiary of Jersey Standard, Stanco Incorporated, became the subject of a very successful long running advertising campaign. Theodor Seuss Geisel created the artwork for this campaign, years before he started writing the children's books that made him famous as Dr. Seuss. The ads typically showed people threatened by whimsical, menacing insect-like creatures that would look familiar to fans of Dr. Seuss's later work and contained the tagline "Quick, Henry, the Flit!" This advertising campaign continued for 17 years and made "Quick, Henry, the Flit!" a popular catchphrase in the United States.
Rhythm Club Fire
The insecticide played an important role in one of the deadliest nightclub fire accidents in the history of the United States during the Rhythm Night Club Fire on April 23, 1940. The insecticide had been sprayed on the Spanish moss that decorated the rafters to prevent bugs, but also generated flammable methane gas that fueled the fire that killed 209 people and severely injured many others.
- James Anthony Clark. The chronological history of the petroleum and natural gas industries. Clark Book Co., 1963, p. 137. ASIN B000WTVV34.
- Flit – product information, Clarke Mosquito Control.
- Alfred D. Chandler, Jr. Strategy and Structure: Chapters in the History of the American Industrial Enterprise. Beard Books, 1962, p. 212. ISBN 978-1-58798-198-2, ISBN 978-1-58798-198-2.
- The Advertising Artwork of Dr. Seuss.
- Richard Corliss. "That Old Feeling: Seuss on First". Time, March 2, 2004.