Duck Tape or Duct Tape?
It's the million pound question, causing as many bitter rivalries as the split between those who say "sc-o-ne" and those who say "sc-oh-ne". We'd love to settle the debate once and for all, settling all those long-standing bets and repairing family rifts in the process, however the truth is it's not quite as simple as that...
Most people in the 'duct tape' camp think they've got the upper hand - it seems more intuitive, and the appeal to common sense can make it easy to assume that the 'duck tape' crew have simply misheard. Well, not so fast: whatever name the product goes by now, it was undoubtedly called duck tape in its original form. During the Second World War an American factory worker, Vesta Stoudt, wrote to the president suggesting that using fabric tape to seal ammunition boxes could save soldiers time in battle. It was manufactured in army-standard olive green by a company called Johnson & Johnson, and sent out to soldiers who quickly gave it the nickname duck tape.
There are a few different theories around why they chose that name: one of the most popular is that it described the way in which the tape mimics the waterproof coat of a duck, however it may be more likely that it comes from the fact that the manufacturers based the tape on an earlier product made using duck cloth. Either way, the name clearly stuck since we're still having this debate today!
But the story doesn't end there - the success of the tape meant that it was quickly shipped out to hardware stores for use in home and businesses, and it was discovered that it made a great tool for sealing up -you've guessed it- heating ducts! Johnson & Johnson created a silver tape specifically for this purpose, and the new name caught on.
So, is there a winner? These days Duct Tape is the name which seems to take the upper hand, and Duct Tape is also the term used by businesses and professionals when describing the product - this makes sense since it better describes the actual use of the product. However, if you want to go ahead and call it duck tape, there's enough history behind you to stop anyone saying you're wrong!