Did Ya Know?

Ever Wonder What The “Q” In Q-Tips Stands For?

If one were to survey almost anyone, they would be pretty hard-pressed to find someone who has not heard of Q-tips. 

The cotton balls on a stick that are not only a hygienic product but can be used in a multitude of other ways, including but not limited to applying ointments and creams, to cleaning out those tough to reach places. 

Q-tips are the go-to staple in not only doctor’s offices the world over, but also almost every home medicine cabinet as well.

Who amongst us has defied the all too present warning, and chosen to use them for the cleaning of our ears?  But with all their uses and suggested non-uses, there is still one mystery surrounding the product. 

Image: Inc.com

What does the “Q” in Q-tips actually stand for?

First off, let’s establish that saying Q-tip certainly has much more appeal than the generic, second-hand term of “cotton swab.” 

The reason being that the name is a quality one, in that the items are “Quality tips.”  That is right—the Q in Q-tip standards for “quality.”

Q-tips were the original creation and conception of Leo Gerstenzang.  He developed the idea from having watched his wife stick small bits of cotton on the ends of toothpicks. 

Having decided that his wife had a great idea, Leo went on to found the Leo Gerstenzang Infant Novelty Co. in 1923.  The company would be the first to manufacture and sell cotton swabs, ready for use, that we know today.

However, the cotton swabs did not start out being known as Q-tips—that particular branding didn’t come along until 1926.  For the first three years, that they were offered, the cotton swabs were recognized by the name of “Baby Gays.” 

Three years later, the company would rebrand their swabs and modified their name to “Q-tips Baby Gays.”  Eventually, the “Baby Gays” portion was dropped altogether, and they would then be known as simply Q-tips.