(Roughly) Daily

“Babies are such a nice way to start people”*…


What do most newborn’s have in common?  Their swaddling…

You’ve seen the [blanket], whether you’ve had a baby or not: it is mostly white, with thick blue and thinner pink stripes at the edges. If you’re on Facebook or Instagram, you’ve seen it tens, maybe hundreds of times.

The blanket is part of the Kuddle-Up line made by a Mundelein, Illinois-based healthcare supply company called Medline. The company was started in 1910 by A.L. Mills, an Arkansan who moved to Illinois and made his living creating butcher aprons for Chicago’s meat-packing industry. Eventually that led to work making surgical gowns—he was the first to shift them from light-reflecting white to the now ubiquitous light-absorbing jade green style. He did the same for hospital gowns: made them patterned instead of solid drab shades and switched the tie from the back to the side, for what Jim Abrams, Medline’s chief operating officer, called “a little more modesty.”

In the early 1950s, receiving blankets were usually made from dull beige cloth. Mills, ever the innovator, wanted to do for blankets what he had done for scrubs. “He asked the women in the office what they would do differently to spice it up a little bit,” says Abrams. They went through a number of iterations and finally settled on the blue- and pink-striped version because, as you might have suspected, it’s good for both girls and boys. The pattern is strangely appealing—before I knew that 99% of newborns are wrapped in identical blankets, I thought it was handsome. It never appears dated or cutesy or Disney. It is truly a classic.

Clearly, many people agree. Sixty years later, Medline sells 1.5 million Kuddle-Up blankets in Candy Stripe every year (the other patterns, with elephants or ducks, are less pervasive)…

Why every newborn you see on Facebook is wrapped in the same baby blanket.”

* Don Herold


As we reach for the rattle, we might send carefully-conceived birthday greetings to Kingsley Davis; he was born on this date in 1908.  A renowned sociologist and demographer, Davis was an expert on population trends; he coined the terms “population explosion” and “zero population growth,” and promoted methods of encouraging the latter.



Written by (Roughly) Daily

August 20, 2016 at 1:01 am

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