In 1914, pharmacist Dr. George Bunting combined medication and vanishing cream in the prescription room of his Baltimore drugstore at 6 West North Avenue to create “Dr. Bunting’s Sunburn Remedy.” He mixed, heated, and poured the skin cream into little blue jars from a huge coffee pot. When other druggists began ordering his sunburn remedy for their customers, Bunting decided to devote all his energies to marketing the skin cream.
A customer told Dr. George Bunting, “Your sunburn cream sure knocked my eczema,” inspiring Bunting to change the name of “Dr. Bunting’s Sunburn Remedy’ to Noxzema—a clever combination of the misspelled word knocks and the last two syllables of the word eczema.
In 1917, the Noxzema Chemical Company was founded with sales of $5,214 and four employees. Three years later, Bunting opened the first Noxzema “factory” in a tiny house at 102 Lafayette Avenue in Baltimore.
Bunting’s fellow druggists helped finance the Noxzema company by placing Noxzema in their stores and buying shares of stock in the company—usually for $100 or less.
By 1925, sales reached $100,000, and Bunting launched Noxzema nationally, starting with New York City in 1926, followed by Chicago and the Mid-west in 1928, the South and Pacific Coast in 1930, and the Prairie and Rocky Mountain States in 1938.
With national distribution in place, Noxzema began advertising on national radio broadcasts of Professor Quiz. Sales jumped 40 percent in one season, and Noxzema began expanding into shaving cream, suntan lotions, and cold cream.
Noxzema inventor George Bunting worked as a school principal for six years before pursuing a career as a pharmacist by enrolling in the University of Maryland’s pharmacy school.
The little blue jars which Dr. Bunting once filled from a coffee pot are now filled by a machine at the rate of 120 jars per minute.
During Dr. Bunting’s early attempts at financing Noxzema, he was on the verge of bankruptcy several times between 1914 and 1923—the first year he showed a small profit.
During World War II, the Noxzema Chemical Company manufactured over 63.2 million jars of Noxzema for GIs.