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A 1907 advertisement for Sapolio soap
Enoch Morgan's Sons Company, 439 West Street, in 1893

Sapolio was a brand of soap noted for its advertising, led by Artemas Ward from 1883–1908. Bret Harte wrote jingles for the brand, and the sales force also included King Camp Gillette, who went on to create the Gillette safety razor and the razor and blades business model. Time magazine described Sapolio as "probably the world's best-advertised product" in its heyday.

Sapolio was manufactured by Enoch Morgan's Sons Co. from 1869, and named by the family doctor.

Decline and disappearance[edit]

Sapolio is often cited in marketing and advertising studies[by whom?] as an example of the result of diminishing or discontinuing advertising. After decades of maintaining some of the best known advertising in the U.S., Sapolio's owners decided that their position was sufficiently insurmountable as to let them discontinue most advertising. Despite the brand's overwhelming market position, it was overtaken by competitors within a few years and disappeared from the market before World War II.

The soft drink Moxie is similarly cited[by whom?] because of its decision ca. 1930 to put its capital funds in sugar purchases instead of maintaining its popular and well-known advertising efforts. This lapse led directly to the final supremacy of Coca-Cola in the U.S. soft drink market.


In 1997, Sapolio was bought by the Peruvian company Intradevco Industrial SA. Intradevco is owner of the Sapolio brand in more than 80 countries. The Sapolio brand name is now used to market several cleaning products in Peru and Chile.

References in popular culture[edit]

  • In the children's book, The Hundred Dresses, the main character wonders if Wanda uses Sapolio to get her forehead to shine.
  • Confidence man Soapy Smith was often called Sapolio Smith by the Rocky Mountain News.
  • In the Ed Smalle, Jerry Macy version of Singing in the Bathtub (1930) Sapolio is used as a pun "I Sapolio you think you're smart." Listen Here
  • In Robert Heinlein's To Sail Beyond the Sunset, Brian Smith (circa 1906) asks his wife "Mo, the papers say that food prices are up even though the farmers are squawking. And I'm certain that this bigger house is costing you more to run, if only in electricity, gas and Sapolio. How much more each month do you need?"
  • In the book, "60 years with Men and Machines", by Colvin, Fred H, (pages 122 - 123) references are made to use of Sapolio as an abrasive use in the manufacture of automobile engines, when required fine lapping was performed by hand labor.
  • In the 1905 novel, "The House of Mirth", by Edith Wharton, (Book I - Chapter IX) a reference is made to "the mingled odour of sapolio and furniture-polish"[1]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

  • "Business & Finance: Sapolio". Time. 6 April 1936. Retrieved 8 July 2009.
  • Official website of Sapolio.


  1. ^ Wharton, Edith. The House of Mirth.