How 11 Unknown Men Turned Their Brands Into Household Names

orville redenbacher popcorn

Photo: Flickr/Orin Zebest

Vidal Sassoon passed away this year at the age of 84.He was an artist who  the way women dealt with their hair, created the “bob,” and believed that women should be able to just wash their hair and still end up with a great style, rather than needing to go to a salon constantly.

Starting in the 1950s, Sassoon opened a chain of salons and sold his hair products worldwide. In honour of him, here is a look at 11 other men whose famous brands they named after themselves.

Adi and his brother Rudolph owned their own shoe company in Germany during the 1920s and 30s.

Their products were so popular, many of the German competitors in the 1928 Olympics wore Dassler Brothers shoes. But during WWII the brothers had a falling out. While both joined the Nazi party, Rudolph was more fanatical and went off to fight, leaving Adi to make shoes for the military.

After the war ended, Rudolph left and formed his own company, Puma. Adi then renamed the original company after himself, and Adidas was born.

King Camp Gillette: DIsposable Razors

King realised early on that people liked things they could use for a short time and then throw away.

Since constantly sharpening your razor was a pain, he decided to come up with a disposable one. After five years of work he finally succeeded, and founded the Gillette Safety Razor Company in 1901. King came up with the idea to give away the razor for free and charge men for the blades. He also believed in a socialist utopia, where all companies would be combined into one, which would be owned by the public.

He offered Teddy Roosevelt a $1 million salary to be head of this theoretical company, but was turned down. He also believed that everyone in the United States should live in one giant city called Metropolis, which would be powered by Niagara Falls.

Candido Jacuzzi: Hot Tubs

The seven Jacuzzi brothers emigrated from Italy to California in the early 1900s. Once there they started coming up with innovations for the big new craze: the aeroplane.

Their biggest hit was the creation of the first plane with an enclosed cabin, which the US Postal Service bought to deliver mail. According to legend, their mother was worried about her sons' safety and eventually convinced the brothers to change jobs. They started concentrating on hydraulic pumps for irrigation and hospital use.

In the late 1940s, Candido's young son Kenneth started suffering from arthritis. He received hydrotherapy at a hospital, but his father decided his son needed to have access to it at home as well. He filed a patent for his invention, but it wasn't until another relative, Roy, joined the business years later that they started selling their Jacuzzi tubs to the public.

Charles Rudolph Walgreen: Drug Stores

Today Walgreens pharmacies can be found in more than 8,000 locations around the US. But originally, Charles had nothing to do with pharmacies.

He was working in a shoe factory in the late 1800s when he lost part of a finger in an accident. The doctor who patched him up managed to convince him to become an apprentice in a drug store. Eventually he became a licensed pharmacist, but enlisted to fight in the Spanish-American war before he could do anything with his new skills. At the war's end, he started opening pharmacies that also had other amenities like over-the-counter goods and soda fountains.

Soon Walgreens were popular hangouts, and Charles owned a chain of hundreds of them before his death in 1939.

Earl Tupper: Tupperware

Frank Zamboni: Ice Resurfacers

Before household refrigerators were common, the ice making business was booming. But in 1939, twelve years after Frank and his brother started their ice block business, refrigerators were popular enough that they saw little future in the venture.

Stuck with many large refrigeration units, they decided to open an ice rink. It was there that Frank, who had no more than a 9th grade education, came up with a way to resurface the ice. Originally it took three men an hour and a half to get it done, but in 1949 he invented the precursor of the ice machine we know today. Now one man could resurface a rink in 10 minutes.

Like Xerox and Kleenex, Zamboni is a trademarked word that we now use to refer to all ice resurfacing machines. In April 2012, the 10,000th Zamboni ever sold was delivered to the Montreal Canadiens.

Dr. Klaus Märtens: Footwear

The Nazis were apparently very good at footwear. Like Adidas, Doc Martens were designed during WWII by Klaus while he was on leave from the German army due to an ankle injury.

He experimented with making better boots for himself, and when the war was ending and Germans started looting from their own cities, he managed to get his hands on a bunch of leather. When the war officially ended, he pilfered more from disused Luftwaffe air fields. He was surprised to find when he opened his shops that 40% of the people who purchased his comfortable, durable boots were housewives.

Once his shoes were popular enough, an English company bought the rights to distribute them in the UK. Since it was only 1959 and feelings towards Germany were still negative, the name was Anglicized to Doc Martens.

Orville Redenbacher: Popcorn

Josiah Wedgwood: Pottery

Linus Yale, Jr.: Locks

Linus was originally a gifted portrait painter. But in 1858, his father died and Linus started working at the lock company his dad had founded.

Once there, Linus used his drawing skills to envision ever more complex and secure locks. In order to make sure companies bought from him and not his competitors, Linus learned how to pick their locks and would demonstrate how easily they could be broken into at banks and businesses. He died of a heart attack in 1858 1868 while in the middle of negotiating the use of his locks in a new skyscraper.

Yale went on to be the #1 lock manufacturer in the US.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.