30 Products Your Grandma Swore By That Are Still Worth Buying

Products Popular Over the Years

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Petroleum Jelly

Long Shelf Lives

Modern households have plenty of new items and products that didn't exist 10 years ago, and some might not still exist 10 years from now. But other brands and products have shown far more longevity — and some of the brands in your cabinets and closets are the same ones your parents or grandparents bought, and possibly even their parents or grandparents before them. 

Here are some of the most enduring products still around today, including Vaseline, which has somehow become trendy again as a new generation of users discover it — all thanks to TikTok, of course. 

Related: Can You Guess What Year These Popular Food Brands Made Their Debut?


1. Vaseline

In the 1850s, oil worker Robert Chesebrough learned than an oil residue called "rod wax" had to be regularly cleaned off the pump used to extract oil in those days. Chesebrough discovered how to extract petroleum jelly from this substance, and in 1872, filed a patent for "petroleum jelly." According to Chesebrough, the name "Vaseline" comes from the German word "Wasser" (meaning water), and the Greek word "elaion," meaning oil. It was marketed as a product to protect skin from dehydration ever since, and is gaining new devotees thanks to the sudden popularity of "slugging" — that is, slathering on petroleum jelly before bedtime to lock in skin's moisture — on TikTok.  

Related: These Viral TikTok Trends Cleared Store Shelves


2. Adidas and Puma Shoes

These two athletic shoe companies date back to 1920s Germany, where brothers Rudolf and Adolf Dassler started a shoe company in Bavaria. The company flourished until the brothers had a falling out after World War II, at which point they divided the company property and assets into two smaller shoe companies. Adolf named his "Adidas" (for Adi Dassler), while Rudolf founded the Puma brand. 

Related: Mountain Dew Moonshine and More Secret Brand Histories

Bayer Aspirin

3. Bayer Aspirin

Though "aspirin" is a generic term today, in the early 20th century it was the patented brand name of a product sold by a German pharmaceutical company called Bayer. Since antiquity, folk-medicine traditions throughout the world recommended using plants such as willow bark or meadowsweet as a pain reliever and fever reducer. These plants all contain salicylic acid, which does indeed have these medicinal effects on humans. In the 19th century, German chemists discovered how to produce acetylsalicylic acid, an artificial version of this drug, and in 1899 it went on the market as Bayer Aspirin. 

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4. Aveeno Skin Care

In 1945, two Canadian brothers, Albert and Sidney Musher, founded Aveeno to market their first product, an oatmeal-based Soothing Bath Treatment. All Aveeno products contain colloidal oats or oat extracts, and the company's very name comes from Avena sativa, the oat plant's scientific name. Johnson & Johnson has owned the company since 1999.


5. Brillo Pads

Aluminum was the wonder metal of the early 20th century. One popular use for aluminum was as lightweight cookware to replace heavy cast-iron pans, but unfortunately, aluminum pots blacken very easily, especially over the coal-fired stoves most often used at the time, and blackened aluminum is very difficult to clean (especially before the invention of modern detergents).

In the early 1900s, a cookware peddler and his jeweler brother improvised a solution by combining soap and jeweler's rouge with steel wool. The product sold well, but the brothers lacked the money or know-how to patent their idea, so they took it to attorney Milton Loeb, who agreed to provide these services in exchange for part interest in their "scouring pad" business. Brillo pads first went on the market in 1913, and to this day, Loeb is honored as a founder of the company, though Brillo's website doesn't mention the name of the jeweler or the cookware peddler.


6. Cascade

Not until the 1950s did automatic dishwashers start becoming commonplace items in American kitchens — yet the machines might never have taken off without the accessory of dishwashing detergent (rather than old-fashioned soap) powerful enough to get the dishes clean. Cascade dishwashing detergent first went on the market in 1953. For four decades, Cascade was available only in powder form, though in the 1990s, owner Procter & Gamble released liquid and gel versions of its detergent.


7. Charmin Toilet Paper

In the early 20th century, the most common toilet paper in America was probably pages torn out of the Sears catalog. Toilet paper sold on a cardboard roll appeared in the 1890s, and in 1928, Wisconsin's Hoberg Paper Co. started producing and selling a softer version of this paper. According to legend, one company employee said the paper was "charming" — and that's how Charmin got its name. In the 1950s, the Hoberg Paper Co. changed its name to Charmin Paper Co. 

Related: Facts About Toilet Paper You Never Knew

Chef Boyardee

8. Chef Boyardee

Unlike many corporate mascots such as Betty Crocker, Chef Boyardee was a real person: an Italian immigrant named Hector Boiardi, who came to America in 1914 and immediately found work as a restaurant chef. By 1924, Boiardi opened an Italian restaurant of his own, where his signature spaghetti dish was so popular that customers said they wished they could make it themselves at home. So Boiardi started selling take-out meal kits containing cheese, dried pasta, and a jar of marinara sauce.

The kits grew so popular that in 1928, Boiardi and his family started the Chef Boiardi Food Co. The products sold fairly well, except Boiardi's American salesmen had difficulty pronouncing his last name, which is why he switched to the phonetic "Chef Boy-Ar-Dee." Chef Boyardee's inexpensive and tasty products sold well even during the Depression, and in World War II, Chef Boyardee cans were included in Allied soldiers' rations.

Related: Unusual Canned Foods You Might Actually Want to Eat


9. Clorox

Clorox was not the first bleach sold to consumers in America — but it was the first bleach produced on a commercial scale in America. The company dates back to 1913, when five California businessmen staked $100 apiece (about $3,000 today) to build a factory making bleach out of salt extracted from San Francisco Bay. The name "Clorox" comes from "chlorine" and "sodium hydroxide," the two active ingredients in the bleach.

Colgate Toothpaste
Jodi Jacobson/istockphoto

10. Colgate Toothpaste

Colgate toothpaste has been sold in America continuously since 1873 — though modern buyers might not recognize the glass jars in which the product was first sold. The first tube of toothpaste did not appear on the market until 1896 — another Colgate innovation. Not until 1968 did the company add fluoride to its products. Though fluoride's role in helping prevent tooth decay is well-known today, adding it to toothpaste was a remarkable innovation in the 1960s.

OREO Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, Party Size

11. Hydrox and Oreo Cookies

Hydrox was the "original" mass-market chocolate sandwich cookie, first going on sale in 1908. Oreo followed in 1912. Production of Hydrox was discontinued in 1999, after producer Sunshine Brands was bought out by Keebler, but in 2015 Hydrox went back on the market — which competitor Oreo never left.


12. Tupperware

This line of kitchen storage and service products, named after inventor Earl Tupper, was first introduced to the public in 1948. The containers' flexible lids allowed people to "burp" excess air out of the containers, thus helping to keep the food fresh longer. While food-storage containers with "burp-able" seals are commonplace nowadays, it was a new (and patented) innovation when Tupper's products were first made available to consumers.


13. Pyrex

We take heat-resistant glass cookware and bakeware for granted today, but it was a revolutionary new product when Corning Glass introduced it in 1908. That particular borosilicate glass, originally named Nonex, was primarily used in lantern globes until Pyrex cookware first appeared on the American consumer market in 1915.

Reynold's Wrap

14. Reynolds Wrap

Aluminum foil, when first introduced to the market, was considered a vastly superior food-storage alternative to the tinfoil that people had used since the early 19th century: Tin is less malleable than aluminum, and when used to wrap food, it leaves a "tinny" taste behind. Tinfoil manufacturer Richard Reynolds founded the U.S. Foil Co. after World War I, mostly making tinfoil for his brother R.J. Reynolds' tobacco products. Richard Reynolds also worked on developing aluminum foil, which first went on the market as Reynolds Wrap in 1947.

Ivory Soap

15. Ivory Soap

Soap manufacturers Procter & Gamble have sold Ivory soap since 1879. Air is whipped into each batch of soap so that the bars float in water — a very convenient trait back in the days when bathtubs, rather than showers, were the standard for bathing. According to a longstanding legend, that first batch of air-whipped soap was discovered by accident — although in 2004 the company came clean about its soapy deception, admitting that in 1863, P&G chemist James N. Gamble wrote in his diary that "I made floating soap today. I think we'll make all of our stock that way." And so the company did, selling Ivory as "the soap that floats."

Green Giant

16. Green Giant

The Jolly Green Giant has been convincing Americans to eat their veggies since 1925, though his history goes back a bit further than that. In 1903, the Minnesota Valley Canning Co. first opened for business, selling canned vegetables. Twenty-two years later, they adopted the Green Giant as their advertising mascot, and in 1950, they renamed their company after their mascot, and Minnesota Valley became the Green Giant Co.

Jolly Time Popcorn

17. Jolly Time Popcorn

Popcorn's popularity predates the United States of America, but branded popcorn is barely more than a century old. In 1913, Iowan Cloid Smith and his son Howard founded the American Pop Corn Co. with a single product, which they dubbed Jolly Time Pop Corn. In 1914, the company's first year of operation, the Smiths sold 75,000 pounds of popcorn to Americans. Jolly Time's popcorn won the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval in 1925, and has kept it ever since.


18. Jell-O

When iceboxes (and later, refrigerators) became food-storage options in American kitchens, cooks developed entirely new recipes that could not have been made before. One popular recipe was gelatin. In 1897, a carpenter in upstate New York developed and trademarked a gelatin dessert he named Jell-O, which wasn't very popular until 1904, when the company responded with what was then an innovative new marketing tactic: passing out free cookbooks featuring Jell-O recipes.

Pond's Cold Cream

19. Pond's Cold Cream

Already old when our grandparents were young, this product's history starts in 1846 when pharmacist Theron Pond discovered a witch-hazel extract effective at treating small cuts and other minor skin ailments. Pond's cream was sold nationally in 1886, and by the 1910s switched focus to cosmetic products, putting its "Vanishing Cream" and "Cold Cream" on the market.

Barnum Animal Crackers

20. Barnum's Animal Crackers

In 2018, Nabisco made headlines over a design change in its boxes of Barnum's animal crackers, abandoning its 116-year-old "circus cage" design to show the animals roaming free instead.

While the design has changed, the name remains the same: The little cookies were named after P.T. Barnum, of Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus fame. That circus closed down in 2017, but the cookies it inspired are still available for sale.

Baker's Chocolate

21. Baker's Chocolate

Baker's Chocolate is arguably older than the United States of America, dating back to before Lord Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown. In 1763, a Massachusetts physician named James Baker started a chocolate-producing business, and in 1780, the business changed its name to Baker Chocolate Co. The original chocolate product was not edible candy, but a powder meant to flavor milk. (Despite the item's current popularity with home bakers, the name comes from the company founder, not its intended customers.)

Levi's Jeans

22. Levi's Jeans

Before Levi's became the most recognizable denim company in the world, Levi Strauss was the name of a Bavarian-born immigrant whose family emigrated to San Francisco in 1853, after the California gold rush. Rather than pan for gold, the Strauss family made its fortune selling necessities to miners. Denim pants were nothing new, but Strauss' idea of strengthening the pants with metal rivets at certain seams was. In 1873, Strauss and his business partner Jacob Davis received a patent for their riveted jeans, and "blue jeans" as we know them were born. 

Related: The History of American Jeans: From Railroad to Runway


23. Merriam-Webster

Merriam-Webster is one of the oldest reference-book publishers in America. George and Charles Merriam founded a publishing company in Massachusetts in the 1820s, and bought the rights to Webster's dictionary after Noah Webster died in 1843. The first Merriam-Webster dictionary went on sale soon afterward, and has never gone out of print since.

Morton Salt

24. Morton Salt

In 2014, the famous "Umbrella Girl" celebrated her 100th anniversary as the Morton Salt logo. The Umbrella Girl and the Morton's motto "When it rains, it pours" both date back to a 1914 advertising campaign. What made Morton's stand out from other table salt offerings was the addition of magnesium carbonate as a moisture-absorbing agent: pure salt absorbs moisture, making it clump on rainy or humid days, but Morton's fortified salt stayed clump-free even on rainy days — hence, "when it rains, it pours." (Today, Morton's uses calcium silicate in lieu of magnesium carbonate as an anti-clumping agent.)

Poland Spring

25. Poland Spring

Bottled water is not a new phenomenon: Maine's Poland Spring has been selling its products nationwide since before the Civil War. In the mid-19th century, the Ricker family lived in Bakerstown (now Poland), Maine, where they opened an inn next to a freshwater spring. The spring water soon got a reputation for having medicinal properties, and by 1859, the family started selling the water as a standalone product: 5 cents for a clay jug holding a gallon of spring water, or a higher price for water by the barrel.

New Balance

26. New Balance

New Balance shoes date back to 1906, when the New Balance Arch Co. was founded in Belmont, Massachusetts. At first, the company made orthopedic shoes and arch supports, but in the 1930s, it expanded its product line to include footwear specially designed for track-and-field runners and baseball players. (The idea of specialized shoes for athletes is taken for granted nowadays, but was a remarkable innovation at the time.) This once-small company now has estimated annual sales of over $1 billion. 

Related: 21 Things You Didn't Know About New Balance

Nivea Cream

27. Nivea Cream

The Nivea company was founded in Germany in 1882. The current color scheme, a white logo on a blue tin, dates back to 1925. In World War II, Nivea cream inadvertently helped British authorities identify some German spies in England: Because the spies had Nivea hand cream in their luggage, and Nivea products hadn't been available in Allied countries since the start of the war.


28. Tide Detergent

Tide has been sold in America since 1946. It was the first convenient home laundry detergent (as opposed to laundry soap) available on the consumer market, and was far more effective than soap at cleaning heavily soiled fabric — especially clothes washed in "hard" (mineral-rich) water. In order to sell this new product to homemakers, Tide became a sponsor of popular daytime serial shows — which is how they got the name "soap operas." 

Related: Do Diluted Detergents, Soaps, and Shampoos Still Work?

Downy Fabric Softener

29. Downy Fabric Softener

Grandma's towels always smelled so good, didn't they? It was all in the Downy, guys. This fabric softener was introduced in 1960 and became a household staple in the laundry room. Its reputation has remained steady over the last several decades, and this stuff is still the go-to fabric softener for many.

Baking Soda

30. Arm & Hammer Baking Soda

When it comes to baking soda, Arm & Hammer is the most recognizable, regarded brand. Arm & Hammer started as John Dwight and Company in 1846, and the stuff is still dirt cheap and completely reliable. We're forever committed.