Fuzzy Wuzzy was an odd soap from the 1960’s. Shaped like an animal, packaged in an air-tight plastic pouch, the soap would acquired a “fur” when exposed to the air.
A self-rhyming brand name, “Fuzzy Wuzzy” was registered as a trademark for soap in 1966 by Aerosol Corporation of America.
Sold in a circus-wagon shaped carton with a die-cut window (resembling “cage bars”) and a circus platform depicted on the back of the box. This panel of the package was a sort of a staging area where kids were instructed to “set” their “bald” soap animal in preparation for the furry transformation that would soon take place.
A perforated punch-out was included on this panel with instructions to “PUSH OUT THIS TAB AND INSERT BASE OF FUZZY WUZZY.”
Fuzzy Wuzzy bath soap carton sold last month on eBay for $34
The question we seek to answer today is two-fold:
1. the inventor of Fuzzy Wuzzy: who was he?
2. the package designer for Fuzzy Wuzzy: who was he?
While box vox does not claim to have all the answers, we’ve learned this much: if you choose an obscure enough topic, you can pretty much tell any shaggy dog story you wish. Which is not to say that we lie. Or that there is no interest in Fuzzy Wuzzy bath soap and the technology behind it.
Some have wildly assumed that the 1966 product manufactured by Aerosol Corporation of America contained live mold spores. (Wrong.) Others have correctly surmised that the soap’s fur is a form of crystallization: efflorescence.
1. The inventor was a German chemist named Kurt Ludwig Von Stoesser.
While we found no hard evidence linking Von Stoesser’s patents to Aerosol Corporation of America, it’s abundantly clear from reading his patents that the whole idea of an animal-shaped soap that grows efflorescent fur, was his.
No smoking gun, but just check out his 1966 U.S. patent filing for “Efflorescent Composition” and his earlier 1961 British patent filing for “Improvements in or relating to soap,” an excerpt of which is highlighted below:
Photo of Fuzzy Wuzzy boxes via: BlazenFluff
Many have have wondered what secret ingredient Fuzzy Wuzzy bath soap might have contained. The side of the carton says only that “the secret is in a safe cosmetic ingredient activated when exposed to air.”
How safe was it? While we have not turned up any FTC or FDA documents citing hazards in Fuzzy Wuzzy bath soap, there was this troubling 1966 newspaper clipping from Pennsylvania.
New Soap That Grows “Fur” Seen Dangerous
The Wilkes-Barre Health Department Friday ordered a soap product manufactured by Aerosol Corporation. removed from the shelves of stores because it was considered “dangerous.”
Acting Health Officer Edward J. Pugh identified the product as “Fuzzy Wuzzy Bath Soap.”
…Pugh said barring of the product came after a Dallas woman complained to the State food inspector about the soap. She said her 17-month-old boy chewed the head off the soap “animal.” The baby became ill with a sore throat and his mouth started to swell. She said the child was taken to a doctor and then placed in a hospital for three days.
Directions on the soap state when it is taken from the air-tight bag, it will begin to grow “fur.” Within three days the directions state, the soap will have a “fur coat.”
May 23, 1966 Standard-Speaker (Hazelton, PA)
It’s interesting that the article implies a connection between the toddler’s 3 day hospital stay, and the 3 day fur growth period mentioned in the Fuzzy Wuzzy soap commercial. As if to suggest that it was the 3-day-long “Fuzzy Wuzzy” chemical reaction that determined the length of the poor child’s hospital stay.)
Fuzzy Wuzzy before and after exposure to air (photo via: via: BlazenFluff)
And Fuzzy Wuzzy’s package designer?
(after the fold…)
OK, we’re going way out on a limb here…
2. The designer of the Fuzzy Wuzzy bath soap circus carton package might have been Carl Seltzer.
He may seem like a counter-intuitive choice. The examples of his work we’ve seen in the past (the diet ice cream carton and the United Semiconductor logo) are a world away from this type of 1960s kid packaging.
The one tenuous filament of connection between Carl Seltzer and “Fuzzy Wuzzy” resides in a flat file at the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, UCLA.
The collection of Patrick Reagh’s Press consists of ephemera, page and galley proofs, printing plates, and various items relating to printing. The collection is contained in 111 boxes. Filed in folders, the archive contains the paperwork concerning the production of books, letterheads, designs, and letterpress items.
No one here has traveled to Los Angeles to actually look inside “Box 58, Folder 20” but the online finding aid describes its contents as:
Carl Seltzer Design Office (repros for Fuzzy Wuzzy) (galley proofs)
Yes, we’re really only guessing that this printing project was the packaging for Fuzzy Wuzzy Circus Bath Soap. It might have been a later (non-circus) redesign of the packaging. Of course, “galley proofs” refer to pages of a publication. So maybe it’s a Fuzzy Wuzzy bath soap catalog? Or it could an entirely different project, coincidentally entitled “Fuzzy Wuzzy” that has nothing at all to do with the soap brand.
Is the Carl Seltzer connection is a red herring? Maybe the circus box was designed by Wellesley Advertising Associates…
I don’t know. Maybe we should wash our hands of the matter.
I’m new to your site but am looking forward to discovering other gems like ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy’.
I forgot all about this toy/soap from my childhood.
As an ageing Baby Boomer who loves all things retro-related, when I come across such items like Fuzzy Wuzzy, I can’t help ponder WHY these items are no longer available or at least re-introduced every 10 years or so!?
Let’s say Fuzzy Wuzzy passes all FDA testing; wouldn’t kids want this toy today??? Look at Chia Pets! Not much different, right? Whoever holds the patent could resurrect the item couldn’t they? Not many things survived that industrious toy revolution of the 60’s and 70’s! Easy Bake Ovens, GI Joe’s (though smaller), Silly Putty, Jiffy Pop (and what about THAT packaging?), Hula-Hoops are just a few of the ‘survivors’.
I realize ALOT of the toys from days-gone-by were dangerous, and like your mom would say, “You’re gonna put your eye out with that thing!’ And they made other things ‘safer’ by taking away the hot plate’s and substituted high wattage light bulbs instead for ‘Easy Bake Ovens’ and ‘Creepy Crawlers’, etc… talk about taking the fun out of everything!
I say, TO HELL WITH SAFETY…LET’S HAVE SOME FUN!!
Dr. Strom Homberger ED Specialist says
Teach yourself that the phrase “a lot” is two words, not one. Simp.
I think that with a little more research and product testing, the item could make an exciting come back. It was before my timeso, I would like to try one.
Robin Orme says
I remember these and I thought they were the funnest toy soap to have, how can I get a set now?
Jeanette Allender says
I’d would like to purchase a fuzzy wuzzy bear. I remember them in my childhood.
I ‘loved them, and I love the song, Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear…
I would like to know how I can purchase one…
Ferdinand Burfopolis says
The Dallas kid was probably hospitalized for being a soap-eating moron more than he was for any soap-related toxicity issues.
I mean, what parent raises a kid to eat soap? Really!
Jim Vincent says
Ok, With all the seriousness set aside, DO NOT EAT THE >FRIGGIN’ Fuzzy Wuzzy.
Sounds like the kid had an allergic reaction.
Vernon Lovdokken says
When I was a small child I was given “King Zora” a toy that that reacted to being shot in the tail by a dart gun. Another toy that it resembled that was even more popular due to advertising was “Boppa Bear”. These are toys that you do not hear much about anymore but were a lot of fun growing up in 1960’s.
Robin L. Worth says
New Fuzzy Wuzzy soaps are being sold on ebay and amazon now! They have retro packaging but no toy inside.
Terri Konst says
This was such a fun article to find! For years I had a note jotted down on my desk, “soap that grows fur?’ For one reason or another last night while cleaning my desk ( Things to do during the Shelter in Place times.) Fuzzy Wuzzy popped into my head! Loved loved loved this stuff. I know that my brother and I bathed more often and washed our hands more ofter ( wait….this could be a good thing for COVID19 ) but, what I really wanted was the toy surprise inside. I was a huge collector of all the great toys hidden inside of our cereal boxes. Every Wednesday, grocery day, I would sit in the cereal isle while my Mom shopped, making my decision surrounding what toy…oh I mean, what cereal I wanted for the week! But really, it was all about the toy. I really want a bar of this stuff!!
Cheryl Thomas says
I loved this soap that my grandma bought for me bless her heart ❤️ I’ve asked other people if they ever remembered it and no body had I’m so glad I found this article very interesting it’s sad it didn’t last it seems to me the child had an allergic reaction
That’s funny Cheryl same here, my grandma also bought me one inthe60’s but when I ask around, nobody seemed to remember it but me! I want one lol!
I’m a 70s boy and would think this soap neat ….but why soap ….would u want your kids washing with something that grew fuzz. …what chemical is that yikez
Shelley Jones Clark says
My post https://shelleyjonesclark.com/blog/page/3/ shows that Fuzzy Wuzzy grows a potentially harmful fungus. Even so, I loved it as a kid.
Randy Ludacer says
Hi Shelly, Thanks for commenting! I like your post. (Note: Reading it, I noticed that you may have conflated my name (Randy Ludacer) with Rusty Blazenhoff’s name in your link to his post.) Best wishes!
This was on the market for kids in 1965 so couldn’t have been invented by K.L. Von Stoesser in 1969.
Randy Ludacer says
Hi Lorie, thank for commenting! Sometimes the products come out a bit before the patent is even granted. Note that Von Stoesser’s American patent was granted in 1969, but he had filed it 3 years earlier in 1966. Also his English patent from 1961 is the one that mentions animal shaped soap figures that develop filaments. So (I think) he could have been the inventor.
Candace Kowal says
I would love to see a comeback of The Pretzel Jetzel & the Vac-u-Form, both of the 60s. The pretzels tasted great, & the Vac-U-Form smelled wonderful – if you like melting sheets of thin plastic – – which I did.