History

The small soap and candle business that William Colgate began in New York City early in the 19th century is now, more than 200 years later, a truly global company serving hundreds of millions of consumers worldwide. Throughout this history, Colgate people and Colgate values have been at the heart of our success.

The small soap and candle business that William Colgate began in New York City early in the 19th century is now, more than 200 years later, a truly global company serving hundreds of millions of consumers worldwide. Throughout this history, Colgate people and Colgate values have been at the heart of our success.

  • 1806-1900
  • 1901-1930
  • 1931-1960
  • 1961-1990
  • 1991-present

1806

William Colgate starts a starch, soap and candle business on Dutch Street in New York City.

1817

First Colgate advertisement appears in a New York newspaper.

1820

Colgate establishes a starch factory in Jersey City, New Jersey

1857

Upon the death of founder William Colgate, the company is reorganized as Colgate & Company under the management of Samuel Colgate, his son.

1864

B.J. Johnson opens a soap factory in Milwaukee, WI, which later becomes the Palmolive Company.

1866

Colgate introduces perfumed soap and perfumes/essences

1872

Peet brothers establish soap company in Kansas City, Kansas where they make Crystal White soap Cashmere Bouquet, the first milled perfumed toilet soap, is registered as a Colgate trademark.

1873

Colgate aromatic toothpaste in jars

1879

Gerhard Mennen establishes a pharmacy in Newark, NJ, later becoming the Mennen Company.

1896

Colgate introduces toothpaste in a collapsible tube.

1898

BJ Johnson Soap Co. introduces Palmolive Soap. Today, the Palmolive equity is sold in over 88 countries in 54 variants

1900

Colgate wins top honors for its fine soaps and perfumes at the World’s Fair in Paris.

1902

Stylish Palmolive advertising begins, emphasizing ingredient purity and product benefits.

1906

Colgate & Company celebrates its 100th anniversary. Product line includes over 800 different products.

1908

Colgate is incorporated by the five sons of Samuel Colgate. Ribbon opening added to Colgate tube: “We couldn't improve the product so we improved the tube.”

1911

Colgate distributes two million tubes of toothpaste and toothbrushes to schools, and provides hygienists to demonstrate tooth brushing.

1912

William Mennen introduces the first American shaving cream tube.

1914

Colgate establishes its first international subsidiary in Canada.

1920

Colgate begins establishing operations in Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa.

1926

Soap manufacturers Palmolive and Peet merge to become Palmolive-Peet Company.

1928

Colgate merges with Palmolive-Peet to become Colgate-Palmolive-Peet Company.

1930

On March 13, Colgate is first listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

1939

Dr. Mark L. Morris develops a pet food to help save a guide dog named Buddy from kidney disease. This breakthrough leads to the first Hill's Prescription Diet product.

1947

Ajax cleanser is launched, establishing a powerful now-global brand equity for cleaning products.

1953

Colgate-Palmolive Company becomes company's official name.

1962

Colgate opens research center in Piscataway, NJ.

1956

Colgate opens corporate headquarters at 300 Park Avenue in New York City.

1966

Palmolive dishwashing liquid is introduced and today it is sold in over 35 countries.

1968

Colgate toothpaste adds MFP Fluoride, clinically proven to reduce cavities.

1970

Irish Spring launches in Germany as Irische Frühling and in Europe as Nordic Spring. In 1972, Irish Spring is introduced in North America.

1972

Colgate acquires Hoyt Laboratories, which later becomes Colgate Oral Pharmaceuticals.

1976

Colgate-Palmolive acquires Hill's Pet Nutrition. Today Hill's is the global leader in pet nutrition and veterinary recommendations.

1983

Colgate Plus toothbrush is introduced. Today over 1.6 billion Colgate toothbrushes are sold annually worldwide. If you lined them up end to end, they would circle the globe 16 times.

1975

Caprice hair care launches in Mexico. Today, hair care products are sold in over 70 countries, with variants to suit every type of hair need.

1985

Protex bar soap is introduced, and today offers all-family antibacterial protection in over 56 countries.

1986

The Chairman's You Can Make A Difference Program is launched, recognizing innovation and executional excellence by Colgate people.

1987

Colgate acquires Softsoap liquid soap business from the Minnetonka Corporation. Today, Colgate is the global leader in liquid hand soap.

1989

Annual Company sales surpass the $5 billion mark.

1991

Colgate acquires Murphy Oil Soap, the leading wood cleaner in the U.S. Today, its product portfolio has expanded to include all-purpose cleaners, sprays and wipes.

1992

Colgate acquires the Mennen Company. Today, Mennen products are sold in over 52 countries. Colgate Total toothpaste introduced.

1995

Colgate enters Central Europe and Russia, expanding into fast-growing markets. Colgate acquires Kolynos Oral Care business in Latin America and launches market-leading Sorriso toothpaste.

1996

Bright Smiles, Bright Futures oral health education program expands to 50 countries, and today reaches over 50 million children annually.

1997

Colgate Total toothpaste is introduced in the U.S. and quickly becomes the market leader. Only Colgate Total, with its 12-hour protection, fights a complete range of oral health problems.

2004

Colgate acquires the GABA oral care business in Europe, with its strength in the important European pharmacy channel and its ties with the dental community.

2006

Colgate enters the fast-growing Naturals segment by purchasing Tom’s of Maine, a leader in that market in the United States.

2011

Colgate acquires the Sanex personal care brand in Europe.

2013

Hill’s enters the Naturals segment with the launch of Hill’s Ideal Balance™.

2014

Colgate refurbishes the historic “Colgate Clock,” a landmark in Jersey City, New Jersey.

2016

Colgate® Bright Smiles, Bright Futures™ celebrates 25 years of creating bright smiles. Since 1991, the program has reached more than 850 million children in 80 countries, with a goal of reaching 1.3 billion by 2020.

Present

Today, Colgate focuses on four core businesses Oral Care, Personal Care, Home Care and Pet Nutrition. Colgate now sells its products in over 200 countries and territories worldwide.