Quality History Tea: Chapstick

chapstick with coffee in the background

Something I'm always forgetting about is applying chapstick. I either forget about its existence for months or I remember to put it on every day because my lips get so chapped that my chapstick can't be ignored, there's no in between. I was reading Sophie's 2019 Beauty Favorites the other day and she mentioned a cleansing balm which then translated into my mind to lip balm which then translated to chapstick, and uh here we are. Now, if you've been here long enough, you'll know that I get curious about the history of just about everything - from sidewalks to paperclips. So, let's get this fun innovate history ride of chapstick going!

Who invented Chapstick?

That would be a physician, Charles Browne Fleet who had an interest in pharmacy in the early 1880's.

I know I can't be the only one wondering what he was doing in the chemistry lab to end up with chapstick, and how chapstick as a concept entered his brain. Like was he just chilling on a nice cold day and suddenly his lips were *literally chilling* and then into the lab he went? Well, anyways, one thing you should know is the Charles had that entrepreneurial spirit.

Were people instantly waiting in line to purchase?

In Charles' dreams, maybe. Ok, but on a serious note, Charles from Virginia really wanted that to be his reality. Who wouldn't want something to save them from chapped lips? Well, apparently everyone. You know that scene from movies where it's a desert and there's just that circle rolling in the distance? Yeah, so that's the equivalent of the amount of people who wanted to purchase it. No one wanted to buy it from him and do you want to know the reason why? It looked like a candle without a wick and was wrapped in tin foil. 

So after not making all the riches he probably thought he would make, he sold the recipe of Chapstick for $5 to his neighbors, Mr & Mrs.Morton 

Now here's the interesting part.

Mrs.Morton believed in the idea of chapstick but knew one thing: the packaging of it needed to change. So, in her kitchen, she added pink coloring to the recipe. Now, instead of white, it was a nice pink color. But that's not all his neighbors did. The whole tin-foil wrap had to go. She used brass tubes to mold the chapstick into sticks; so when they dried they would be in that stick-form. We love innovative women, I'm assuming the husband watched his wife in the corner because in all the articles I've read they mention Mrs. Morton doing everything and some of them mention Mr.Morton helping. 

Once they finished drying, the Morton's cut sticks molded by the brass tubes (so they were y'know normal looking size that someone can have in their bag) and placed them in containers to ship out to what they hoped would be the customers that Charles dreamed he had.

The Morton's were successful and founded a whole company called Morton Manufacturing Corporation based on their sales of the Chapstick.

Same product, different look = hello money. All I'm thinking about right now is how Charles must have been sitting there like he could have had it all, the riches, the fame, the everything but the way his product looked like and was packaged had people walking the opposite direction and purchasing actual candles with wicks for late night reading. Like, he was probably standing out in the rain without an umbrella wondering where his life went wrong.

So literally speaking Charles invented Chapstick but technically speaking Mrs. Morton really invented the chapstick we know and use daily (okay, maybe not daily but when we don't forget) because without her innovative thinking of changing the color/having them in tubes instead of white and in tin foil we probably wouldn't have chapstick right now.

So, as much as Charles invented the recipe of Chapstick, Mrs. Morton invented the look of Chapstick which - as I mentioned above - was all that needed to change to make chapstick a hit.


So, whatever happened to the Morton Manufacturing Corporation? Are they still making chapstick today?

As much as I really wanted this to be a yes, they actually sold the rights to chapstick to A.H.Robbins Company. At the time, the flavor of chapstick was just a regular no-flavor one that looked pink. The A.H.Robbins Company wanted to change that. In 1971, four new flavors were added in! So, now there was variety to flavors which means business was booming because who doesn't like flavored Chapstick! 

In 1981 A.H.Robbins Company had another idea: Chapstick Sunblock 15.

It seemed like the A.H.Robbins Company had it all figured out, they had all the flavors and even had one that protects from the sun, so obviously this meant they weren't going to be selling the rights to Chapstick anytime soon. But the people who owned the A.H.Robbins Company changed in 1985, they were bought by the American Home Product Corporation.

In 1992, the amount of people wanting to buy chapstick was increasing and the people at American Home Product Corporation were like okay! we need something new with it but not changing what we have!

Sticks, squeezable tubes, and jars have entered the chat. So they added options on how people wanted their chapsticks to come in. I can 100% say I've had all three versions, from sticks to jars (okay as shown in the photo it's more like a lil tin? Charles is going to rise from the dead like excuse me is THAT TIN AS IN MY TIN FOIL)

In 1996 American Home Product Corporation were living their best money life because chapstick was bringing in $63 million in revenue.

I'm starting to think Charles was regretting selling his recipe for $5. Can you imagine inventing something and getting none of the money from it's success because you thought the idea was the problem and not the product packaging? 

I don't know about you but I'd be that melodramatic person and just stare out a glass window thinking of the life I could have had if I didn't sell my recipe for $5 and instead changed the look of the product from candle without a wick to in a tube chapstick.

And there we have it! The long history ride of chapstick in which we learn one thing - product presentation is everything because no matter how good a product is, if it's not presented properly you could very much end up like our boy Charles over here who sold his genius idea for $5 to his neighbors and they got all he success he dreamed of because they changed the way it was packaged and sold. Same recipe, different look.

Before anyone points it out: Salve's can be used like a chapstick! 

Now, to close this out, have you used your chapstick today?


  1. It amazes me how interesting a subject can be made with good writing. I especially loved how you tied innovative women into the making of chapstick!
    I loved learning from this; making something relatable and appealing is how we sell things.
    Happy New Year!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words Jaya!! If there's one thing I hope to get across with my history crash courses it's to write it in a way that doesn't have people zoning out after the first sentence - the articles I read are a bit like that haha, and then after my researching, and taking notes, that's when my historical take is born.

      History is wild, it's just taught in such a boring/not interesting way - so here's me doing my part to help with some history crash courses!

      Thank you so much for reading!

  2. Happy New Year! Oooh, I love that chapstick is becoming fancier these days. It is interesting to learn about the history behind chapstick. The Mortons really took this to a whole new level. Then again, $5 was a lot back then. Pretty cool that what was thought to be a failed product became something that people use on the daily!

    Nancy ♥ exquisitely.me

    1. Yes! There's so many different chapsticks on the market - it was really interesting getting to the root history of where chapstick began. Yes! That was the really interesting part - that product presentation almost made this a no-go, but then once the product had a glow up, and was taken back to the drawing board, it was golden and sold so well that it's a staple to every person today!

  3. You are very beautiful. I really like it. Thanks for sharing this Women fashion Clothing

    1. ma'am unless I've metamorphosized myself into a tin of chapstick, there is not a single photo of me in this blog post.

  4. What an interesting history behind it, I never even thought about it to be honest. You have written such an interesting post! Thank you for sharing xxx

    1. It really was such an interesting ride through history seeing how a product went from no one buying, to a staple product for everyone! Thank you so much for reading!

  5. I really enjoyed reading this post! I constantly carry Chapstick around, and I found this backstory incredibly interesting! Thanks for enlightening me! 😜

    1. YAY - so glad to hear you enjoyed reading! It was fun to read about and research the history of something we all carry around and write it all up, glad to hear you learned something new!

  6. This is such an interesting topic! I always carry around lip balm & chapstick!

    Love, Amie ❤
    The Curvaceous Vegan

  7. This post was so enjoyable and so different to any other type of make up blog post that I have ever read! So fascinating and never thought before more about how chapstick came to be! I’ve started using chapstick more and more recently due to my lips getting so dry so really intresting reading a post all about it and it’s history!

    1. That actually means so much to me, thank you so much for your kind words!! With history crash courses, the topics usually come up to me based on what I'm reading or really just by me looking around as with my crash course on sidewalks haha. Ah so it came right in time when you started using it regularly, amazing!! Now you know the history of how it came to be!

      Thank you so much for reading

  8. I absolutely love these posts from you and how you get here. I like how my Drunk Elephant cleanser got you here. I get the worst dry lips (well, dry everything..) yet still manage to forget about lip balm for months sometimes. Then I pick it up and wonder how I even went an hour without it. They did get quite bad just before Christmas so I'm in a very committed relationship with my Burt's Bees right now. I feel very sorry for poor Charles, he should have made a fortune x


    1. I'm so glad to hear!!! These are my absolute favorites to write about, it's so much fun to research and then write all about it in a way that's in my own voice. Yes! It all came from me reading your blog post, haha my crash courses ideas really come to me from anywhere and everywhere!!

      As the weather gets colder, I know I'm going to be reaching for it more frequently! And Yes! Charles really could have had it all, if only he changed how he packaged the chapstick! What could have been!