Mosquitoons: The innovative mosquito repellent Johnson & Johnson sold over a century ago
Buzzz. It’s a familiar warm-weather nuisance: mosquitoes. In the early 1900s, the pests also transmitted serious diseases, so the company produced an in-home fumigator designed to repel the insects.
Summer is traditionally a time for beach days, barbecues, late sunsets and that other harbinger of the season—mosquitoes.
Today, the insects are mostly an annoyance for the majority of people living in the U.S., where the risk of contracting the Zika virus is thankfully low. But at the turn of the 20th century, mosquitoes were a serious public health concern in America, when diseases like malaria were a problem, and antibiotics and vaccines weren’t readily available.
At the time, window screens were the main way people could keep mosquitoes out, but they provided less than adequate protection.
Enter Mosquitoons: an in-home disinfectant fumigator that Johnson & Johnson introduced in 1902.
“The product was designed to kill mosquitoes and the germs they carried into the house,” explains company historian Margaret Gurowitz.
The kit contained small candles that could be set on a plate, and the fumes produced would eliminate disease-carrying insects or drive them away.
Mosquitoons was one of many in-home fumigators that were sold at the time, enabling consumers to take action to help keep their families healthy—a mission Johnson & Johnson carries forth to this day.