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Thread: Rubber Pants and Terry Nappies

  1. #1

    Default Rubber Pants and Terry Nappies

    I am in my mid-forties and remember being dressed in Terry Nappies and Plastic pants in the mid-Sixties, But was wondering when did Rubber Pants get replaced by Plastic Pants? Was it in the fifties?
    I know in England plastic pants are still referred to as 'Rubbers'. I just do not remember tham being made of rubber when I was a toddler. Anyone have any ideas on this?

  2. #2


    From what I can find it was during the 50s that plastic pants replaced rubber pants as the main type of diaper cover. However you can still buy actual rubber pants today.

  3. #3


    I do have one pair that I seldom use as they are make me hot but I do like the softness and fell of rubber.

  4. #4


    Disposable nappies were available in the 1940s for babies when travelling, but didn't get popular until the late 60s when they became really affordable or useful.

  5. #5


    Prior to 1937 the choices for water-resistant pants were oiled cloth or gum rubber pants. Then in 1937 the International Latex Corporation introduced their PlayTex Latex Stretchy Baby Pants. Those were molded in one piece in a similar way to latex surgical gloves, another important product category for International Latex.

    The start of WWII caused rubber to be rationed. PlayTex pants went out of production in December 1941. Most brands of gum rubber pants also stopped production.

    This allowed various kinds of plastics to be used for waterproof pants. Just as WWII ended practical ways to form poly vinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl) into thin sheet goods were invented. Vinyl was softer and more supple than previous plastics and approached the feel of latex. PlayTex baby pants returned to production in 1946 but never re-gained their previous top selling position for baby pants. PlayTex stopped producing their baby pants in 1954, although they did continue making adult sanitary pants.

    Gerber first produced vinyl baby and later adult pants in early 1947. Even when PlayTex stopped making latex pants all most stores carried were vinyl baby pants. By the time I was old enough to notice, about 1969, there were no rubber or latex baby pants in stores. Although some older folks still generically called all baby pants "rubber panties" when asked they could not describe actual rubber panties.

    My husband Don was born in June 1932. He had been toilet trained for 3 years when he was hired to play the older brother of an infant in the movie short produced for PlayTex to introduce the latex baby pants to potential dealers. Since there was no TV in those days, that intro film was re-edited for showing as a commercial in movie theaters. A benefit to Don was that when his younger sister Mary was born in 1940 PlayTex gave his family a lot of their baby pants. Some were still unused when his youngest sister Claire was born in 1944. She might have been the youngest person to wear genuine pre-WWII PlayTex baby pants.

  6. #6


    Angela, as usual you certainly deliver. I hereby grant you a PhD in diaper studies from ADISC university.

  7. #7


    Yes, this had a bunch of info I had not known, especially which corporations did what and when; and as usual things show up on the market long before mass awareness is in place. Rubber pants exist, Protex being one vendor; they are pricey but a very different (and very pleasant) experience. They smell different, and particularly sound different; a kind of floppy muted slapping sound with lower-pitched overtones, quite unlike vinyl which is more treble.

    I find they make a better, more leak-proof fit without leaving red marks on the thighs; I guess this may have to do with the inherent stretch in the fabric. (It could be to do with the type of elastic and how it's sewn; I must get pp's with wide elastic to try - purely for scientific reasons, of course.

    I put Tom and Jerry cartoon in popular culture somewhere; it involves "rubber pants" and cloth nappies, and its date should indicate when rubber was still in use. The cartoon of course would rely on the audience identifying with its props.


    the whole thing: YouTube - Baby Puss

    ---------- Post added at 14:40 ---------- Previous post was at 13:55 ----------

    Baby Puss is a 1943 one-reel animated cartoon and is the 12th Tom and Jerry short. Baby Puss was released to theaters on Christmas day, 1943 by Metro-Goldwyn Mayer.

    I have never seen rubber pants with the frills depicted, but would be very interested indeed in an actual pair. The cartoon definitely has not only ab overtones (including diaper punishment) but sissy overtones with the bonnet in pink. Knowledge of the existence off ab/dl's is acknowledged; I wonder what earlier references to it may exist.
    Last edited by Raccoon; 23-Mar-2011 at 22:28.

  8. #8


    Quote Originally Posted by Raccoon View Post
    So in 1943 we can tell rubber pants were in use, and were still rubber, and stretchy; I have never seen them with the frills depicted, but would be very interested indeed in an actual pair; the cartoon definitely has not only ab overtones (including diaper punishment but sissy overtones with the bonnet in pink. This confirms Angela's information, above. I know that natural rubber was restricted to the war effort in WW2 (gas masks, tires, self-sealing fuel tanks) and made malaysia a strategic target.
    Actually we cannot tell anything about the availability of rubber pants in 1943 from this MGM cartoon. Perhaps there was no such agency in Canada during WWII, but MGM was in the USA. Here there was the WIO=Office of War Information. Only the most positive spin about American life could be shown in movies under WIO rules, which were administered in connection with the Production Code.

    For example, until April of 1945 gasoline and tire ration stickers, required in all operational USA vehicles since early 1942 could not be shown in movies. Nor could ration books or coupons be shown or even discussed.

    For an animated cartoon to be released in 1943 it had to have started pre-production in 1943 or earlier. Certainly all the early art work would have been finished before December 1941, when the USA entered WWII. The WIO was not set up until early 1942. So, what is being shown as fantasy rubber pants is based on what was happening in 1939 or so, when PlayTex was taking lavish color ads on the back pages of many leading magazines, not just aimed at young parents. The heads of animation at MGM, Warner Bros and Disney all must have seen those ads. Many had infant children at the time, including Hanna and Barbara who at that time were the creative heads of MGM animation department. Bob Clampet's son was 1 year old in 1939. Bob was the creative head of WB animation then and for years to come.

    The actual truth is that in the USA by 1943 only hoarders had rubber pants. Any store selling them did so behind closed doors and under the counter.

  9. #9


    Im a tb so I have no idea =)

  10. #10


    Quote Originally Posted by jeffiewe View Post
    Im a tb so I have no idea =)
    Jeffie, since you live in Long Beach, CA which was not just a vital port during WWII but also a major defense production center (Douglas Aircraft, etc) you might want to do a research project on WWII rationing as well as the role of the Motion Picture Production Code of the USA, the Hayes/Breen office enforcing the Production Code and the WOI. You will be fascinated and your paper might even inform your teachers.

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