We traced the concept back to at least 1937 — the frugal-minded Great Depression era — when Popular Science magazine suggested that bar soaps be hung on homemade cords to keep them from dissolving away in wash water.
After that, this unassuming yet quirky invention began to be manufactured on a large scale, serving as a practical response to a universally recognized annoyance: the slippery getaway soap bar. Early brands included Roycemore, Shulton and Spruce-Up.
Up until the late 1960s, the English Leather Company still called their product “Shower soap on cord” — nowhere near as catchy as the rhyming name that was later used — and suggested that the loop of string could be used to hang the bar from the faucet or even around the neck.
Taking the stage as a genuine superstar in the 70s, soap on a rope made its way into gift shops, established a place in the hearts of many, and even became a favored novelty Father’s Day gift. The humble bar of soap, suspended from a sturdy rope, offered a unique and humorous alternative to the traditional tie or aftershave.
By the 1960s and 1970s, Avon was leading the soap-on-a-rope market, with more than a dozen different soap shapes, colors and aromas available — many of which you can see below.
Yet, like many seemingly practical inventions, soap on a rope came with its own quirks. The soap — even while attached to the rope — could still make a daring break for freedom, or simply leave a lonely piece of string dangling from the shower handle, and a soap-less individual pondering the fickleness of bathroom accessories.
English Leather men’s toiletries, including shower soap on cord (1967)
1960s Avon’s Island Lime aftershave lotion & green soap-on-a-rope
Avon Blue Blazer fragrance blue shower soap on a rope (1967)
Forest green Royal Regiment fragrance gift soap from Max Factor (1967)
Vintage Avon Spicy scented soap for men (1960s)
Retro 1970 Excalibur fragrance spray talc and soap on a rope from Avon
1970s Oland and Excalibur fragrance and soap for men
Kanon men’s grooming kit (1972)
Avon Sure Winner fragrance grooming goodies for guys (1972)
This creamy beige-colored novelty shower soap on a blue rope was shaped like a tire
Retro 70s Tai Winds shower soap bar (1972)
Old Avon Shampoo-shower soap for men (1972)
Vintage Avon Blend 7 aftershave and soap-on-a-rope (1973)
Deep Woods log-shaped shower soap from Avon (1973)
First down football-shaped soap-on-a-rope (1973)
Old Avon Wild Country and Avon for Men shower soaps (1973)
Vintage 70s football helmet soap-on-a-rope (1973)
Vintage 70s shower soap on a rope varieties (1974)
ALSO SEE: Remember these old soap brands?
Vintage 70s blue Wilbur the Whale soap-on-a-rope for kids (1974)
Jovan Musk Oil For Men – including soap on a rope: the No-Holds Bar (1975)
Musk by English Leather – men’s grooming products (1978)