The 4 Most Essential Kits in American History

Product kits were developed to fulfill consumer needs for convenience. Businesses soon found them to be a great way to lower shipping and production costs, too. Below are four of American History’s most famous product kits to inspire your own kitting projects!

kits that changed historyThe First-Aid Kit

In the late 1800s, railroad workers who were laying track were often injured.  What’s more, the old practice of dealing with an emergency was to run to the nearest doctor and ask them to return to the scene of the accident with you. Obviously this was not practical in most situations. As business legend has it, Johnson & Johnson Inc. founder Robert Wood Johnson was on traveling on a train while on vacation, when he learned about the inconvenience of becoming injured as a railroad worker. It was then and there that he had the idea to package triage products together in a box so that the workers could have the items near in case of an emergency. Before too long Johnson & Johnson was creating first-aid kits for travelers and for home use.

 The Civil War Era Sewing Kit

The Civil War Era sewing kit was extremely popular in America. Most were cloth kits containing two pockets holding thread, various needles, pins, measuring tape, buttons and even a small pair of scissors.

The sewing kit was in fact an essential accessory in the 1800s. American housewives made them for Civil War soldiers who were issued only one uniform. Because the soldiers kept the kits on their person (in their pocket), the personal items they stored in the kit were often used to identify their body on the battlefield. The needle and thread could also be used to stitch up a wound.

The Mary Kay® Starter Kit

Mary Kay Cosmetics is one of the most successful businesses in American history. The company, founded in 1963 in Dallas, Texas, by Mary Kay Ash, today has more than 3 million salespeople worldwide and a revenue that exceeds $2.9 Billion. And it all started with a kit. This starter kit was given to new beauty consultants who could easily carry it around to demonstrate the beauty products to customers.  These blue-colored kits were a new way to present a product. In 1973 Mary Kay changed the kits to the familiar pink color we have come to recognize as their brand.

 The Pre-Cut House Kit

The early 1900s saw the development of house kits offered by companies such as Sears. The consumer would receive a complete set of building materials at a fixed price with different floor plans and styles, such as the Bungalow and Colonial Revival-style. These pre-cut houses (also known as mail-order homes or catalog homes) were sold as permanent houses and were not portable. Standard or personalized designs, lumber and hardware, shingles, windows, plaster and even paint were included in the kits.  It cost extra for plumbing, electrical, and heating systems. The concept saved time and money (measuring, sawing by hand, mistakes) and the kit companies worked with financers to offer incredible mortgage terms. It is estimated that more than 100,000 kit homes were built in the United States between 1908 and 1940.

At Ohio Valley Goodwill Industries, we can help your small business master the art of convenience and lowering costs by managing your kitting operation. In fact, with a century of business experience behind us and thousands of kits completed over the decades, we consider ourselves the kitting experts in the Cincinnati region! Schedule a free tour of our facilities today, and let’s start making America’s next greatest kit together.