Then along came Edna Murphey with a brand new chemical developed by her dad to keep his hands dry while performing surgery (we should probably mention that he was, in fact, a surgeon). Murphey found that the product could be used to prevent sweating when slathered all over her armpits. So she bottled it up and named it Odorono (Odor? Oh no!), because naming things was not Murphey's strong suit.
Apparently, selling her new wonder product wasn't her strong suit, either, because Murphey immediately ran into a serious roadblock -- people had no idea why they were supposed to want something that stopped them from sweating. Like if they came out with a product today that slowed how fast your fingernails grew, the big reaction would be "Uh, is this really a problem that needs to be solved?"
"Over the course of a lifetime, Nail-Ex shaves entire minutes off of your hygiene routine."
Unlike modern antiperspirants, the ridiculously strong Odorono prevented sweating for up to three days -- which many viewed as something that couldn't possibly be healthy. Add the fact that the active ingredient had to be suspended in an acid that could cause armpit irritation and literally eat holes through clothing, and the product seemed like the invention of a crazy person.
Roy Rosenzweig Center
"You can't have armpit odor if we dissolve your armpits."
But in a massive stroke of luck, Murphey paired up with door-to-door Bible salesman-cum-advertising evil genius James Young, who had one job: make women ashamed of sweat.
First, Young launched a massive ad campaign that painted perspiration as an embarrassing medical condition in need of a cure. Then, once he had established public awareness that antiperspirant was a thing, Young moved on to creating the idea that if you sweated in public, everyone around you would be whispering and snickering at you behind your back -- one 1926 ad went so far as to claim that a woman with underarm sweat "just doesn't belong," even though this had been untrue since the dawn of the species. In the 1930s -- when the Great Depression had everyone worried about, you know, being able to afford food -- Odorono ads spoke of how stinking up the office could lose you your job.
Not to mention making it impossible to find a man, every woman's highest goal.