Noxzema building in Baltimore City, 1938. Photo from Baltimore Museum of Industry.

Made in Maryland: Noxzema

07/30/2018
By Waxter Intern

Did you know? That iconic blue jar of Noxzema was invented and nurtured into an international company by Marylander George A. Bunting in the early 20th century. And now one of the company’s historic factory buildings is being transformed into new apartments and artists lofts in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore City.

BRIEF HISTORY OF NOXZEMA

The story of Noxzema begins in 1899 when Marylander George A. Bunting graduated the Maryland College of Pharmacy in Baltimore City. After graduating, Bunting worked in Oscar Ross’s drugstore on North Avenue near Charles Street. In 1904, Bunting purchased the store from Ross and proceeded to create his own creams, lotions, syrups, and remedies.

By 1909, Bunting began to experiment in creating vanishing creams and other medications in search of an alternative to the greasy, tallow-based creams that were on the market. It took some time, but Bunting eventually had found a formula that he liked and named it, “Dr. Bunting’s Sunburn Cream.” It became a success and customers loved it for the few ingredients it had: clove oil, lime water, menthol, eucalyptus oil, and camphor. For a few years, Bunting produced as much as he could, and distributed it in small blue jars, which is also a Baltimore novelty and it is still sold in blue jars today.

Around the beginning of 1916, Bunting knew he had to expand his operations. He bought a small manufacturing plant in the 1800 block of Charles Street, where he continued to make his cream, now named Noxzema. It is said that Bunting changed the name of the cream after a customer had told him, “That cream knocked my eczema.” Hence, no exzema – Noxzema.

Noxzema building, ca. 1951. Photo from Baltimore Museum of Industry.

With a great product in hand, Bunting used savvy marketing to transform Noxzema into a national product by the 1920s, and by the 1940s, it was estimated to have been used by four million people. Bunting retired from his business in 1948, but the firm didn’t stop producing popular products. They continued and expanded into making shaving cream and other personal care products, and the Cover Girl make up line. The firm was renamed to the Noxell Corporation in 1966, and eventually merged with Procter and Gamble Company in 1989. Alberto-Culver bought the rights to the brand in 2008 from Procter & Gamble and operated the line of skin-care products until Alberto-Culver was acquired by Unilever in 2010.

PRESERVATION IN PROGRESS

The Noxema building on Falls Cliff Road in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore City is currently undergoing a transformation into artist studios and apartments and will be known as The Fox Building, named for a post-Noxzema tenant. Many of the building’s original features are being retained and restored such as original maple wood plank flooring, glass block windows, soaring ceilings, and much more.

MADE IN MARYLAND

Maryland has a proud industrial heritage including being the birthplace of game-changing mechanical inventions and hosting major milestones. In this Made in Maryland series, Preservation Maryland and the Baltimore Museum of Industry, will bring you many, “I didn’t know that was invented here!” moments. The Baltimore Museum of Industry celebrates Maryland’s industrial legacy and shows how innovation fuels ongoing progress. The author is Ross Bater, a Waxter Intern at Preservation Maryland.

Waxter Intern

A legacy gift from William D. Waxter, III established the Waxter Memorial Internship to help Preservation Maryland support the next generation in historic preservation.

Meet Our Team
Our Story Donate Press & Media Resources Contact Us Site by Younts Design Inc. © Preservation Maryland, 2020.