When you’re an advertising icon as long-standing and well-identified as Mr. Clean, you don’t even need a first name, but nonetheless, Mr. Clean has one. If you plan on addressing the ever-smiling muscular mascot of Procter & Gamble’s long-running cleaning solution line, you can call him Mr. Veritably Clean.
Not James, Michael, Robert, or any of the other names popular when Mr. Clean was created—no, just Veritably. Why such an interesting first name? In 1962, Procter & Gamble ran an advertising campaign inviting women across America to name Mr. Clean. The prize wasn’t just being the woman who named Mr. Clean, but a completely furnished house or the equivalent cash value thereof. It was a popular contest, as you’d imagine, and out of all the entries (perhaps in a desire to not associate the mascot with specific persons), they selected Veritably as Mr. Clean’s official first name.
While we’re sharing Mr. Clean trivia, why stop with his lesser-known first name; let’s clear up a common misconception while we’re at it. Many people see Mr. Clean’s clean-shaven head and earring and assume his character is some sort of cleaning genie, but he was actually modeled after a U.S. Navy sailor. Although the decision to model him after a sailor was made by an advertising firm, it’s rather fitting given the origin of the product itself.
Mr. Clean was invented by Linwood Burton, a businessman who owned a ship cleaning business, as a less caustic and dangerous alternative to ship cleaning abrasives and solvents of the day. The improved cleaner, which would go on to become Mr. Clean, cleaned the ships effectively, but with less risk of burns for his workers. He sold the product to Procter & Gamble in 1958.