The History of ChapStick

The Whitehall-Robins Healthcare company has a long history of using the popular media to push their products. Anyone remember Suzy Chaffee (”Suzy ChapStick”), spokesperson for ChapStick in the 1970’s? Long a leader in the lip balm market, ChapStick has been overtaken this year by Blistex. Here is a detailed history of ChapStick from a June 1994 Whitehall-Robins press release:

Chap Stick PhotoIn the early 1880’s, Dr. C. D. Fleet, a Lynchburg, VA., physician and pharmacological tinkerer, invented ChapStick as a lip balm. The handmade product, which resembled a wickless candle wrapped in tin foil, was sold locally, but did not have much success.In 1912, John Morton, also a Lynchburg resident, bought the rights to the product for $5. In their family kitchen, Mrs. Morton melted the pink ChapStick mixture on her kitchen stove and poured the liquid through a small funnel into brass tubes. The rack was moved to the porch for cooling. After that, the molded ChapStick was cut into sticks and placed in containers for shipping.

In 1963, the A. H. Robbins Company, formerly of Richmond, acquired ChapStick lip balm from Morton Manufacturing Corporation. At that time, only ChapStick Lip Balm regular stick was being marketed to consumers; however, since 1963, a number of line extension have been introduced.

In 1971, four ChapStick Lip Balm flavored sticks were added, followed by ChapStick Sunblock 15 in 1981. In 1985 ChapStick Petroleum Jelly Plus was introduced in Regular, Sunblock 15, and Cherry-flavored varieties, all in squeezable tubes. In 1992, in response to growing consumer expectations, ChapStick Medicated, in three forms — sticks, squeezable tubes and jars — was launched. This expanded considerably the selection of lip care products available to consumers, further solidifying ChapStick’s leadership position in the lip care category.

In December, 1989, A. H. Robins, formerly based in Richmond, was acquired by American Home Products Corporation. As might be expected, the product has undergone a number of changes in formula, form and packaging throughout the years. Yet today, at an A. H. Robins Consumers Products plant in Richmond, ChapStick is still poured into molds — but on a modern production line. During a regular shift, approximately 85,000 units are produced.

In 2002, American Home Products changed its name to Wyeth, spinning off unrelated businesses in order to focus on pharmaceuticals

Like the Corner Drug Dealer

Wyeth took a different approach than Blistex when we contacted them for information on their company. Instead of sending literature, they sent us coupons for ChapStick and their other products. Does this strategy sound familiar? It is the same one used by the corner drug dealer who says “The first one is free!” Truly despicable.


The First One is Free...