On September 8, 1930, the 3M Company in St. Paul Minnesota began selling Scotch tape. The product began with an employee, Richard Drew, who thought up a way to coat strips of cellophane with adhesive. It started as “Cellophane Tape,” but then during testing as a masking tape, a strip popped off an automobile at a St. Paul car dealer’s shop, and the frustrated bodyshop painter told Drew to “Take this tape back to those Scotch bosses of yours and tell them to put more adhesive on it!” (The Scots have always had a reputation for being stingy.)
The breakthrough was that this was a waterproof, transparent, and pressure-sensitive bonding material that came out at the right time — during the Depression people realized they could repair items instead of replacing them. It also became widely used by bakers, grocers, and meatpackers. The familiar “snail dispenser” came next.
One unusual fact is that in 1953, scientists in the Soviet Union demonstrated a phenomenon called triboluminescence — peeling a roll of an unidentified Scotch brand tape in a vacuum can produce X-rays.
Radiation aside, Scotch tape is one of those common items that seems impossible to do without.