The mother of two Navy sailors during World War II, Vesta Stoudt worried about her boys overseas. At home in Illinois, Stoudt worked at a factory packing and inspecting ammunition boxes. Back then, packages were sealed with paper tape that had a tab, which often broke, and then the entire box was dipped in wax to make it waterproof.
Seeing that the packages were cumbersome to open — and possibly putting soldiers in harm’s way when trying to open packages while under siege — she attempted to invent a new type of packing tape that was both waterproof and easy to open. When her employer rejected the design, Stoudt didn’t take no for an answer. Instead, she went to the top and wrote a letter to President Franklin Roosevelt. Surprisingly, she received a reply explaining that her idea was being implemented. Soldiers found the tape so quick and easy to use, they called it “100 Mile an Hour Tape.” Today, we just call it Duct tape.