Commercialism in the Schools, It’s Not New

aftertherain“In 1926, a few years before the dawn of the Great Depression, a group of U.S. manufacturers banded together in New York City to promote the benefits of cleanliness and hygiene [and buying soap].
That organization was known as the Association of American Soap and Glycerine Producers, Inc, forerunner of the Soap and Detergent Association… by 1931, there were 84 members.”
They published a book by Grace T. Hallock in 1927. It was called After the Rain

 and ‘was supplemental reading’ for 3rd through fifth grades. The author introduced children to the benefits of cleanliness (and buying soap!) through the hygiene customs of other lands. Seventh thru ninth grades had a book called A Tale of Soap and Water: The Historical Progress of Cleanliness, also by Grace T. Hallock.
According to their own materials (which I am quoting  here from a PDF file, , the industry told the public it had developed these materials and distributed them to schools during the 30s and 40s for altruistic reasons. They performed a study and found that school children were not washing their hands before meals or after toileting, but if the experience was  ‘made convenient and pleasant’ children enjoyed washing their hands.
Their Certificate of Incorporation set forth these objectives:
“…collecting and circulating information valuable and useful to the public with reference to the use of soap and kindred products.”
“..investigating the nature and use of glycerine and kindred substances and disseminating information with reference thereto.”
“”…promoting the best interests of producers of soap and glycerine and kindred products.”
“The Cleanliness Institute was founded by the Association to teach the value of hygiene. The Institute published and disseminated educational materials in cooperation with public and private organizations including schools and health, social, and welfare agencies to improve buying practices.”
They raised “personal and community standards of health, self-respect and productivity” and strengthened “public consciousness of the value of cleanliness standards by reaching out to virtually the entire population of the United States.”
One of their earliest projects (1928) was to investigate the cleaning facilities in public schools, an effort supported by “Colgate-Palmolive-Peet Co., Lever Brothers Co., Pine Tree Products Co. and The Proctor and Gamble Company.”

More here: (page 5)

And a lot more about soap and its general history here, including this bit about the soap selling:

One of the early giants in the commercial manufacture of soap, Proctor & Gamble (P&G), realized the importance of creating a brand, having an appealing package and then advertising the product on a mass scale. According to reports, P&G spent more than $400,000 a year on advertising in the early 1900s, an amount equivalent to $10,000,000 today. (This advertising was so ubiquitous that daytime drama serials began being called “Soap Operas”.)  That money was well spent, and by 1930 the demand for P&G soap was so great, it was being made in boilers that were three stories tall.



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