MILWAUKEE — The nation's best-selling glass cleaner turns 75 this year.
Windex was introduced during the heart of the Great Depression as a simple windshield cleaner. Now there's a family of Windex products specialized for any household surface that needs a shine — including mirrors, windows, computer monitors and flat-screen TVs.
The product's iconic blue color makes it instantly recognizable. The brand name has become a household word, so well known that it merited a number of comedic mentions in a popular 2002 film, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding."
Windex was developed by The Drackett Company in 1936 and became the first nationally distributed glass cleaner. The company and Windex brand were bought in 1992 by SC Johnson, a private company in Racine with $9 billion in annual sales.
SC Johnson said mothers across the generations have passed down their cleaning tricks and tips, including using Windex.
A company statement stated Windex's distinctive blue color comes from a dye chosen for consumer appeal.
The blue hue could have one drawback, according to a June 2011 report from Mintel Group Ltd. Because the color is so associated with glass cleaners, retailers who offer their own private-label versions can siphon away customers by copying the shade, the analytical firm noted.
Even so, Windex's dominance in the glass-cleaner market "is largely unchallenged," the report said. Windex has 58 percent of the market while private labels combined account for 23 percent, Mintel found.
The movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" featured a character whose home remedy for "every ailment from psoriasis to poison ivy" was to "put some Windex on it." The mentions weren't orchestrated by SC Johnson, company executive Kelly Semrau said.
The film producers offered SC Johnson a product-placement opportunity, but the company declined, she said. Film executives decided nonetheless to include Windex in the script.
That doesn't mean the company condones the character's advice.
"As with any cleaning product, Windex products should always be used according to the label directions," she said.