National Zipper Day is observed each year on April 29th. This day celebrates something that we often do not think about and just automatically take for granted.
It was first in 1851 that Elias Howe, the inventor of the sewing machine, received a patent for an “Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure.” Howe never made an attempt to market his invention and missed the recognition he may have received.
Forty-two years later, Whitcomb Judson began selling the “Clasp Locker.” Being very similar to Elias Howe’s patent, this device served as a more complicated hook-and-eye shoe fastener. Judson started the Universal Fastener Company where he manufactured his new device and debuted it at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 but was met with little success. Because Judson put his invention before the public for sale, he earned credit as its creator.
In 1906, Gideon Sundback, a Swedish-American electrical engineer, was hired to work for Universal Fastener Company. He was highly skilled and known for his devotion to the company. In 1913, he invented the modern zipper. The patent for the “Separable Fastener” was issued in 1917.
- In 1923, it was B.F. Goodrich, (which used the product for boots and galoshes in the) that gave the device the name zipper, after the sound, or “zip” that the slider created. It’s said that a Goodrich executive coined the phrase “Zip ‘er up,” echoing the sound made by Sundback’s invention, and the name zipper was born.
- During World War I, military and navy designers acquired zippers for flying suits and money belts, ultimately helping the reputation of the device’s durability.
- Every year, YKK produces enough zippers to wrap around the world 50 times. That’s 1.2 million miles of zippers!
- The national Manufacturing Center of YKK in Macon, Georgia produces around 65,000 miles of those zippers annually.
- There are 4.5 billion zippers of all kinds consumed in the U.S. per year. That’s 14 zippers for every American per year.