The History of Latex Foam

Do you know who first developed latex foam? Its history is quite extensive.

French explores discover South American natives playing with crude rubber balls, making rubber shoes and rubber bottles. (Charles Marie de la Condamine)….father of the condom…? Natives call the stuff”CAHUCHU”…weeping wood. French call it CAOUTCHOUC…
English chemist Joseph Priestly discovers pencil marks are erased or easily “rubbed out” with caoutchouc…he think and says, “Blimey! What a Rubber!”
….A STAR is BORN…RUBBER. ( More easily said too! Quite right. )

By now latex has been mixed with turpentine to make waterproof cloth. McKintosh raincoats, rubber bands, rubber production machines, erasers of course, and a few other odds and ends soon follow. But rubber is unstable in extreme hot and extreme cold weather. Gummy and sticky with heat, brittle and hard with cold. What to do?
Enter Charles GOODYEAR…(yes, that Goodyear. ), Chuck accidentally drops a glob of a rubber and sulphur mix on the stove…VULCANIZED! Cured rubber is better rubber. Attempts to develop rubber tree plantations are successful in hot moist climates. The British Empire transplants seedlings from South American forest to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Malaysia. Almost all of today’s plantations trees come from these seedlings. Tree-mendous really.
Automobile Boom merges with the new vulcanized rubber tires to push rubber science farther and faster.
Yearly production of plantation rubber exceeds wild rubber forest production. Grafting and breeding (of the trees that is…) over the years have produced trees that today yield TEN TIMES the rubber of wild trees. World War I–The blockade of Germany creates critical need for the German war machine to get rubber for tanks, trucks, etc.– search is on for SYNTHETIC RUBBER. Early efforts do not perform well.
By the beginning of WW II, the Synthetic Rubber need was NOT going to hinder the Nazi war machine. The Germans develop two fairly good types of Synthetic Rubber. BUNA (S)–butadine gas and STYRENE…and BUNA (N) from butadine and acrylonitrile (liquid from acetylene and hydro cyanic acid.)
Japan captures ALL of the Far East rubber plantations cutting off 90% of the U.S. rubber supply. Overnight the U.S. developed a Synthetic Rubber industry. Today the world uses more Synthetic Rubber than Natural Rubber. One challenge to Synthetic Rubber dominance…the ever growing popularity of radial tires AND…the wondrous quality derived from TALATECH LATEX mattresses and pillows. These products use a blend of the highest quality Natural Rubber and the absolute best Synthetic.
Foam Rubber (latex) mattresses enjoy peak popularity among the beautiful Americans intelligent enough to own them. Fierce consumer loyalty is born! I WANT MY LATEX! (+6% market)
One word,….PLASTICS! Petro chemical polyurethane plastic foams find their way into every conceivable corner of our lives! Light weight and cheap, they boost profits for mattress makers everywhere as padding components. Tire makers start to discover better profits in hot rod tires, racing tires, raised white letter tires, poly-glass tires and radials too. One more word…water beds! America floats to sleep for the next 20 yr. The exceptional interest in flotation sleep only adds to the diminishing availability of quality latex mattresses throughout the sixties and seventies.
ARSON FIRE! B.F. Goodrich Sponge Rubber, Shelton, Connecticut. Call the FBI!…50 drums of explosive fuel ignited the dynamite. BOOM! Perhaps the largest arson case in FBI history, the sole remaining latex rubber factory burns to the ground. A poorly designed attempt at insurance fraud is easily exposed.
Bill Coffey and Steve Kordiak literally pull the latex industry in America from the ashes of the fire and begin at one to concentrate on the latex foam rubber pillow market.
Latex Foam Products, Inc. The cosmetic industry discovers the quality never stops in American made, 100% synthetic latex applicators. Companies like Clinique, Christain Dior, L’Oreal and many more line up to send LFP on its way to an 85% market share in the industry.
TALATECH arrives! Latex Foam Products, Inc. builds the first American made latex mattress cores in over 5 years. LFP perfects the Joseph Talalay process of freezing the latex in a vacuum mold, curing the rubber with heat and a vigorous wash and dry cycle. These mattress cores prove superior to all other attempts in history. Exhaustive quality control standards insure that Talatech products are the best in the world today.
Jonathon May arrives as president of Latex Foam Products, Inc. A dynamic leader with a vision of the future and an extensive level of experience in manufacture and marketing. John expands the influence of Latex Foam Products in the European and Asian markets. Europe’s centuries old love affair with latex begins to spill over into the American Market. 80% of the high end mattress business in Europe is you guessed it…..LATEX!!
Performance Series Mattresses by Talatech
Kevin Callinan, Joh May, and John Coffey, team up to develop the world’s most comfortable beds, the Talatech Performance series. These exceptional sleep systems set the stage for dozens of new latex lines form ALL of America’s premier mattress makers. By 1996 23 out of 24 brands use Talatech latex cores and mattress toppers in constructing better quality sleep sets.