Four Products with close ties to the military

1. Jeep

The year prior to America’s entrance into World War II, the Army provided its list of requirement for a four wheel drive vehicle to 135 U.S. automobile manufactures.  Three of the 138 companies joined the competition, American Bantam Car Company, Willys-Overland Motors and Ford Motor Company.  Bantam delivered the winning concept, but did not have the production capacity to deliver the goods.  The Army provided the blueprints to Willys and Ford who developed their own prototypes.  In the end, Willys won the contract but shared product with Ford.  Together they deliver over 600,000 vehicles.  While the origin of the vehicles name is contested, it is widely believed that it evolved from its name nomenclature description of General Purpose or GP to be called the Jeep.

world war ii willys jeep sale


2. M&Ms

The son of the creator of the Milky Way bar, Forrest Mars Sr moved to England where he began manufacturing the Mars bar for British troops in 1932.  A problem Mars encountered was that chocolate sales dropped during summer months.  Chocolate melts at about 86 degrees.  Because of the lack of air conditioning, people tended to avoid the sticky mess during warm weather.   During the Spanish Civil War, Mars purportedly discovered that British Army rations contained small chocolate beads encased in a hard sugar shell.  Mars returned to the United States and created a business venter with Bruce Murrie, the son of Hershey executive William Murrie and began producing a new chocolate candy that could sand up to war temperatures.  M&M was born and names after the first letters of the last names of the partners, Mars and Murrie.  During World War II, nearly 200,000 pounds of M&Ms were produced and shipped to the troops each week.

1942 Advertisement. Reprinted in 2003. ™/® trademarks of Mars, Inc. ©Mars, Inc.


3. Ray-Ban

During World War II, pilots and aircrewmen reported recurring headaches and altitude sickness caused by the glare of the sun.  To address the problem the U.S. Army Air Corps commissioned Bausch & Lomb to create prototypes for a new pair of sunglasses to reduce the glare without obscuring the wearer’s vision.  The result was the Ray-Ban Aviators.  The iconic glasses have been worn by aviators and non-aviators ever since because of their effectiveness and good looks.

Image result for douglas Macarthur ray bans
Life Magazine


4. Duct Tape

During World War II, the military had a need for a strong, waterproof, flexible tape to keep water out of ammunition boxes.  Scientist at Johnson & Johnson went to work and created a new type of tape to do the job.  Millions of yards of the new product was shipped to units around the world where it quickly became know as “Duck” tape. There are two theories of the origin of the name.  One is that that because the original product was green and shed water, like a duck. The other theory is because it resembled strips of cotton duck.  Regardless of the origin, the name stuck, no pun intended.  Duck has been use for everything from repairing equipment and weapons, to binding wounds of wounded soldiers. So confident in duck tapes abilities, soldiers often say, “If you can’t bind it with duck tape, you’re not using enough duck tape.”

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What other products did you use in the military?

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Susan C.
Flight bags which I still use, Duct tape, and P38 can opener.