Before WWII in the U.S., most people used coal to heat their homes. Coal heating resulted in dirty walls. Noah McVicker, who worked at a soap manufacturer named Kutol Products, produced a moldable cleaning product that people used to press against their walls to remove coal dust and coal smoke residue from their wallpaper. After the war, more people started using more natural gas to heat their homes and the sales of wallpaper cleaning putty decreased substantially. McVicker’s nephew, Joe McVicker, joined Kutol with the job to save the company from bankruptcy; he subsequently discovered that the wallpaper cleaner was being used by nursery school children to make Christmas ornaments. They rebranded the putty, removed some of the cleaning ingredients, added a nice scent, and started marketing it as a toy.
Play-Doh was born.