What’s up devils? Undoubtedly you’ve been to a barbecue restaurant, and if you haven’t, then stop reading and go right now, because you will be lost here. Every barbecue joint in the country varies in the meats they specialize at, their “secret” sauces and spices, even the type of smoker and fuel that they use. It’s true, no two barbecue restaurants are quite the same. There is, however, one staple product that is consistently found in nearly every barbecue joint: Wet-Naps.
The mighty little Wet-Nap seems pretty insignificant at first glance. But then get to the end of your slab sauce-soaked ribs, and that little Wet-Nap becomes the number one thing on your mind. You don’t really notice it’s presence at the start of the meal, but you’ll absolutely notice its absence when it comes time to clean your hands up a bit.
But what’s the deal with wet naps? How did they become such a popular restaurant product? How have they, like Band-Aids and Windex become both a product, brand, and household name (there are many bandages, but only one Band-Aid brand)? It really is the type of product success that should be admired, and you could even go as far as to say that the Wet-Nap has been the most successful product in all of barbecue.
It all started in 1957 when Arthur Julius, the father of the Wet-Nap, spent a meager $5,000 to buy and alter a machine designed to separate soup into portions. A year later, the name Wet-Nap was trademarked, and he spent 3 years working with a mechanic friend to perfect his newly-developed hand wipe. The invention was unveiled at the 1960 National Restaurant Show in Chicago. Just 3 years later, Arthur Julius’ son, Robert, joined the company and had the crazy idea to pitch the product to Colonel Sanders (the KFC Colonel Sanders) himself.
Once KFC picked up the product, business for the Wet-Nap began to boom, and the imitators started to pop up, the main one being Royal Paper’s “Royal Fingerbowl” (it doesn’t roll off the tongue nearly as nice as Wet-Nap). Today over 150 billion Wet-Naps are produced every year, all of them ready to keep your fingers clean. You can’t eat it, but the Wet-Nap is a barbecue staple as much as pork and vinegar.
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