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A Kotex newspaper advertisement from 1920

Kotex is a brand of feminine hygiene products, which includes the Kotex maxi, thin and ultra thin pads, the Security tampons, and the Lightdays pantiliners. Most recently, the company has added U by Kotex to its line of feminine hygiene products.[1] Kotex is owned and managed by Kimberly-Clark, a consumer products corporation active in more than 80 countries.

The modern, commercial, disposable pads seem to have started in the late nineteenth century with the Hartmann company in Germany, and Johnson & Johnson in the United States.[2] In the United States, Kotex was launched in 1920 by Kimberly-Clark to make use of leftover cellucotton (wood pulp fiber) from World War One bandages.[3][4] Kotex became well known in the 1920s after Kimberly-Clark placed advertisements in Good Housekeeping magazine. Although some readers were offended by the ads, the products' success led to more advertisements. Kimberly-Clark also promoted Kotex in Good Housekeeping by using intimate advice columnist Mary Pauline Callender.[5]

Originally sold in a hospital blue box at 12 for 60 cents, Victorian sexual prudishness caused slow acceptance until Montgomery Ward began advertising them in its 1926 catalog, reaching $11 million sales in 1927 in 57 countries.[6] It became one of the first self-service items in American retailing history after it was strategically placed on countertops with a special payment box so that the woman didn't have to ask a clerk for it and touch hands. Tampax appeared in 1936. Belts were needed until the 1970 introduction of Stayfree by Personal Products Co. and New Freedom Pads by Kimberly-Clark.

In August 2009 Kotex launched a premium sub-brand called Kotex Luxe in Singapore. It launched U by Kotex Tween, products aimed at girls aged 8–12 in the US in 2011.[7]

In September 2012 Kimberly-Clark issued a warning regarding a shipment of rejected Kotex tampons that had been stolen and sold to the public. The company said that the defective products posed only a minor health risk to consumers.[8]

New Freedom is a former brand in the Kotex family. New Freedom was one of the first beltless pads manufactured in the early 1970s.

In December 2018, Kimberly-Clark issued a recall of U by Kotex Sleek tampons due to findings that the product would sometimes break apart during removal, leaving behind fragments in the body that could require medical attention for removal. [9]

In popular culture[edit]

Quest Deodorant Powder for Sanitary Napkins,[10] a feminine hygiene product formerly made by Kotex, is featured prominently in the Mad Men episode "Collaborators" (season 6 episode 3, air date 14 April 2013). Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) finds a container of Quest on her desk, along with a folder detailing three talk points about the product, one of which details the target audience: "working women and other Olsons". Peggy mistakes the practical joke as an actual assignment from her boss, Ted Chaough (Kevin Rahm), who has to explain her copywriters have "pranked" her. The end of the episode shows that Peggy has saved the product in her top desk drawer.[11]

Kotex sanitary napkins were also mentioned in an episode of Boardwalk Empire ("Blue Bell Boy", season 3 episode 4, air date 7 October 2012). Margaret Thompson (Kelly Macdonald) is working with a young doctor to establish a women's health clinic in the Catholic hospital where she and husband Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) are benefactors. A nun reviews all materials that are being presented to the patients to assure that they are in line with the church's guidelines and moral code and inquires about small brown-paper packages that are being distributed in the class. "Kooo-tex?" she reads quizzically, and Margaret explains that these sanitary napkins are gifts for the women, and that they were newly introduced to the market. The nun is flustered by the fact that such products are "sold openly in stores" and when Margaret suggests she take some for herself the nun replaces the package and leaves the room in a huff.[12]



  1. ^ Newman, Andrew Adam (16 March 2010). "Rebellion Against the Usually Evasive Feminine Care Ad". The New York Times. p. B3. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  2. ^ "Pads [Directory]". Museum of Menstruation. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  3. ^ www.mum.org
  4. ^ www.mum.org
  5. ^ "Photo of Mary Pauline Callender". Museum of Menstruation. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  6. ^ http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2252/who-invented-tampons
  7. ^ Newman, Andrew Adam (14 April 2011). "A Younger Group for Feminine Products". The New York Times. p. B3. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  8. ^ "Kimberly-Clark issues warning about stolen tampons". USA Today. Associated Press. 5 September 2012. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  9. ^ "Kimberly-Clark issues recall after reports of tampons causing users to seek medical attention". Fox 8 Cleveland. December 12, 2018. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
  10. ^ "Quest Deodorant Powder for Sanitary Napkins". Museum of Menstruation. Retrieved 14 April 2013.
  11. ^ "Collaborators". Mad Men. Season 6. Episode 3. 14 April 2013. AMC.
  12. ^ "Blue Bell Boy". Boardwalk Empire. Season 3. Episode 4. 7 October 2012. HBO.


Further reading[edit]

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External links[edit]