Morning Brew - ☕️ Big hang theory

How the clothes hanger found its hook.
Morning Brew June 17, 2022

Retail Brew


Happy Friday. We hope you get your weekend started with a bang…but it won’t be cheap. Thanks to pent-up demand for fireworks, with some July Fourth displays having been canceled the last couple years, and, of course, inflation, backyard fireworks will cost as much as 30% more this year.

On a less explosive note: We’ll be OOI (out of the inbox) on Monday, in observance of Juneteenth. See you back here on Tuesday.

In today’s edition:

—Andrew Adam Newman, Erin Cabrey


How’s it hanging?

Mommie Dearest gif Mommie Dearest/Paramount Pictures Studios via Giphy

There are devices in the retail world you take for granted. Let’s stop doing that.

The clothes hanger

  • Patented: 1852
  • First patent holder: William B. Olds

Above the fold: As ubiquitous as they are now, if you showed a clothes hanger to someone in the US a couple centuries ago, you probably would have been met with utter bafflement. Coats were hung on pegs, while other clothing was folded and stacked in bureaus and on shelves. If you went to the dressmaker or haberdashery, what would be on display primarily were textile rolls to choose among for the tailor, since the mass manufacturing of ready-to-wear clothing didn’t begin to take off until around the 1840s.

And while we depend on them to prevent wrinkles, the history of clothes hangers themselves has plenty of them. In 1852, William B. Olds secured what is believed to be the first patent for a hanger, which he called a “revolving coat form.” It was mounted on the wall like a sconce, and a foot or so away from the wall, there it was: a curved metal arch that a coat fit neatly on.

  • It was, according to an article on the history of hangers published in the Clothing and Textiles Research Journal, designed for store-display purposes, but it may fall short of how we’ve come to conceive of hangers. It lacked the same thing as countless rejected novel manuscripts: a hook.

Many accounts say the hook came about five decades later, from Albert J. Parkhouse, who worked at the Timberlake Wire and Novelty Company in Jackson, Michigan. There weren’t enough pegs for employees’ coats, and in 1903, finding no shortage of wire at the wire company, he twisted some into a crude hanger. With this hack, several coats could be hung from a single peg.

Parkhouse apparently never saw a dime for his invention, though, because he was on the clock when he came up with it, and in 1904, his employer, John B. Timberlake, secured the patent.

Getting the hang of it: Also in 1904, John Thomas Batts, who’d worked in a men’s clothing store, secured a patent for a clothes hanger. He began producing what he called “wishbone hangers,” with rounded wooden shoulders and a wooden bar with a spring for holding trousers securely.

“Men’s suits back then would take up three stacks [on shelves or tables]—one each for trousers, vests, and coats,” Batts’s grandson, John H. Batts, said in a 1993 interview quoted on the National Museum of American History website. “He figured this was a lousy way to display garments for sale.”

Click here to keep reading.—AAN



From post to profit


You have a flawless social media strategy, your budget is approved, and you even found the *perfect* influencers for your brand. But what happens after your site starts seeing this influx of influencer traffic?

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Listrak’s GXP will:

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That’s how Listrak GXP accelerates the purchase and drives increased conversions for you and your brand. Get a guaranteed revenue estimate here.


Coming up short

Tampax tampons on a nearly empty shelf Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

After coming for Rice Krispies earlier this year, the Everything Shortage is back for more—and it’s happening often enough that most consumers have said they think product shortages are the “new normal.” Here are the latest items that are hard to come by (and why):

Tampons: Last week, Time reported a tampon shortage hitting US stores from New York to California, with CVS, Target, and Walgreens confirming to NPR they’ve seen limited supply.

Tampax maker Procter & Gamble (which sells 4.5 billion boxes of tampons annually and has a ~50% market share in the US menstrual-care category) initially blamed Amy Schumer. But the shortage is no joke. The problem actually comes down to the “costly and highly volatile” process of acquiring materials—cotton prices were up 71% YoY in April, per Time—P&G CFO Andre Schulten said on its Q3 earnings call.

  • Meanwhile, Playtex maker Edgewell Personal Care told Time it’s dealing with major staff shortages at its Delaware facility.

Both P&G and Edgewell told Bloomberg they’re boosting production to make up for the shortages. P&G also plans to raise the prices of feminine-care products in mid-July.

Sriracha: Asian hot-sauce manufacturer Huy Fong Foods, maker of the beloved Sriracha with a rooster-adorned bottle, said a “severe shortage” of chili is leading to a shortage of its products. You can blame the weather for this one. The company halted production in April due to a poor spring chili crop caused by a drought in Mexico and parts of the western US.

  • The company said it “hopes for a fruitful fall season” and isn’t accepting orders from distributors placed before September.

Popcorn: Another shortage that’s popped up. Norm Krug, CEO of popcorn supplier Preferred Popcorn, told the Wall Street Journal that he’s worried this year’s crop may come up short, adding that the company is paying more for farmers to grow popcorn in an attempt to deter them from switching to more profitable crops like soybeans.

Lettuce: Floods in New South Wales and Queensland have caused a lettuce shortage in Australia, so much so that KFC Australia is now supplementing its limited supply with cabbage for its burgers and wraps.

+1: Replenishment of baby formula has hit a speed bump. Less than two weeks after Abbott Nutrition resumed production at its Michigan facility following a halt since February, the company is facing a weeks-long production and distribution challenge after severe storms caused the plant to flood earlier this week.—EC



  • Grove Collaborative, the sustainability-focused CPG company, went public on the NYSE through a SPAC.
  • Petco opened its first rural store concept, called Neighborhood Farm & Pet Supply, in Texas today.
  • Toshi, a last-mile delivery startup, was named the Grand Prize winner at LVMH’s 2022 Innovation Awards.
  • Jokr is shuttering its US operations and focusing on the Latin American market.



Drive more sales with social. To reach an audience immersed in social media, you need a social commerce strategy that aligns with the platforms they engage with most. In their Guide to Social Commerce: Capabilities by Platform, Mavrck shows how to use social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat to sell products and build brand loyalty—and which platforms are best for your brand and audience. Download it here.


Today’s top retail reads.

Star glower: Why some celebrity beauty brands get negged by consumers and the press. (Business of Fashion)

Spilled milk beverage: Thanks to lobbying from the dairy industry, the FDA is poised to stop almond, oat, and other plant-based alternatives from labeling themselves as “milk.” (Slate)

Eat your greens: Birgit Cameron, who co-founded and leads Patagonia Provisions, the outdoor brand’s food line, explained how its products aim to address environmental challenges. “I built out this problem, solution, and product model, which is really all about discovering the biggest things in the food industry that are contributors to the climate issues and other environmental problems we’re facing today.” (Eater)

$marter $pending: Money with Katie is here to help you manifest your financial freedom with her weekly newsletter, which takes a spicy approach to smart spending habits, tax strategies, and investing. Subscribe for free.


Crafted to get you in the moment, Right Here Right Now candles are the perfect gift. Whether you’re cheering on a coworker after their promotion or celebrating their small wins, the right time is always now. Get in the business of gifting and shop the collection!


Three of the stories below are real...and one is most definitely not. Can you spot the fake?

  1. UK beer producer BrewDog released a beer that’s made to pair perfectly with vegan meat brand Quorn.
  2. Zac Efron joined performance brand Bulletproof as its chief protein officer.
  3. A Nashville bakery’s attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the longest line of cookies was thwarted by strong winds.
  4. But another Guinness World Record—the world’s largest chicken nugget—was broken in Massachusetts.

Keep reading for the answer.


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Zac Efron isn’t a chief protein officer, though this week he joined Kodiak Cakes as chief brand officer and board member.


Written by Andrew Adam Newman and Erin Cabrey

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