Forhan's Toothpaste

Forhan's Toothpaste

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Richard Joseph Forhan (1866-1965) was a graduate of the Denver School of Dentistry who practiced in Denver for 18 years. Moving to New York in 1913, Forhan began manufacturing a dentifrice under his own name. Zonite bought Forhan’s firm in 1929, and moved it to New Brunswick soon thereafter. Obituaries noted that Forhan “Made Fortune in ‘20s With Toothpaste He Developed.” The labels on this metal container read IN PART “FORHAN’S / Tooth Paste” while those on the cardboard box indicate that the product was made by Zoonite in New Brunswick, N.J.
Ref: “RICHARD FORHAN, DENTIST, IS DEAD,” New York Times (Dec. 26, 1965), p. 68.
Currently not on view
Object Name
oral hygiene product
Other Terms
Tooth Paste; Oral Hygiene; Patent Medicines; Drugs; Non-Liquid
Zonite Products Corporation. Forhan Division
place made
United States: New Jersey, New Brunswick
overall: 4 3/4 in x 1 1/4 in x 1 1/8 in; 12.065 cm x 3.175 cm x 2.8575 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Robert J. Locurto
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Health & Medicine
Beauty and Hygiene Products: Oral Care
Beauty and Health
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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Nostalgic. Into my late forties now, I immediately recognized the original tube with the black cap! Forhan's was our favorite toothpaste. As a kid, I felt that its modest foam was a compromise on the brushing experience, but later grew into the lightness of the daily experience. I am eager to see if we could ever see it back on the shelves again! Cheers from India!
For many years, the only toothpaste that my father, a surgeon and cardiologist, would use was Forhan's. He was very frustrated and upset when he was no longer able to buy it.
I remember, growing up in India, Forhan's was the toothpaste of choice in my family as it had a bland taste and easy on the mouth as opposed to the strong minty taste of other toothpastes in the market. But for one reason or other it was not very popular and we were devastated when it shut shop.
R.J. Forhan is my Great-Grandfather. Family lore says that Grandpa Forhan "invented toothpaste" in its modern form and sold the Forhan's company in one of the most lucrative sales of a private company in the 1920's. I am not sure how much of that is true. While he did not invent dentifrices, supposedly he was the first to produce and market it as a paste sold in a tube as we know it today; prior to him they were all powders. You can find the old Forhan's For The Gums ads clipped from magazines sold on ebay, and more family lore says the young girl in some of the ads is my grandmother Rea Forhan. According to the New York Times article below, Forhan originated the "4 out of 5" slogan in dental advertising. There is an old article somewhere called "Dentistry Comes To Cripple Creek" that I may be able to locate that describes his life and dental practice in Cripple Creek Colorado. If I am able to find it I will post it. He and his family later moved to New York City where Rea would meet my Grandfather William Pedrick. The Richard Forhan apartment on Riverside Drive has some other historical interest connected with it as chronicled in this NYT article:
Mr. Pedrick, my great-grandfather, James Kennedy, was Vice President of the Forhan Tooth Paste company for ten years until its sale in 1929, reportedly to Colgate. Family lore is that they invented the first 'paste' product that could be squeezed from a tube instead of mixed with a brush.
I remember that as a boy, in the 1940s, I listened to a radio program sponsored by Forhan's toothpaste. I remember the brand of the toothpaste, but not the name of the program. Do you know what show or shows were sponsored by Forhan's?

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