Read a partial history of the menstrual cup!
First cup? Tassette, Tassaway, The Keeper, Daintette, Foldene
Leona Chalmer's 1937 book with a drawing of a cup.
And read comments from people who have used a cup.
Do cups cause endometriosis? Not enough evidence, says the FDA.
CONTRIBUTE to Humor, Words and expressions about menstruation and Would you stop menstruating if you could?
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Read 10 years (1996-2006) of articles and Letters to Your MUM on this site.
Leer la versión en español de los siguientes temas: Anticoncepción y religión, Breve reseña - Olor - Religión y menstruación - Seguridad de productos para la menstruación.

A History of the Menstrual Cup (continued)

Robert P. Oreck and the Second Attempt to Sell The Cup:
Tassette (see a 1961 prospectus and instructions and
promotional material, 1956(?)-1960s, & historical introduction)

(Above) A flower, the tulip, "euphemizes" the menstrual object, the cup. (Ad in Modern Screen, June 1962) 
More ads for Tassette.

Educating the public was the main task facing Robert P. Oreck, who bought the rights to a second Chalmers patent (from 1950) and started a new company, Tassette, Inc., in May 1959, to sell the new Tassette menstrual cup (bottom of page), which looked very much like the Chalmers cup, and would meet similar objections from the public.

It was a family affair: his wife Shirley was vice president for education, and his brother David was a director of the company. Brother Marshall, general manager of a company which distributed vacuum cleaners (an eerily similar enterprise!), was later involved with the successor to Tassette, Tassaway. Robert Oreck himself was the president of Lincoln Institute, a Spanish language correspondence school.

Aware of the difficulties Tampax had had with the medical community, Oreck mailed discounted offers of the $4.95 cup (which was reusable and had a money-back guarantee) to thousands of registered nurses, many of whom he said preferred it to pads and tampons. And like Tampax, he hired nurses to give advice to women at drug and department stores in the northeastern and east-central part of the U.S.A., where the campaign started (and ended) with direct mailings. (The campaign for the Instead cup in 1996 started in the northwestern part of the U.S.A., which the Ultrafem company, maker of Instead, determined had the greatest percentage of users of non-applicator tampons, women who seemed not to object to inserting their fingers into their vaginas. Perhaps the fate of Tassette would have been different if it had started there.)

By adding an anti-bacterial treatment to the surface of the cup he hoped to increase its acceptance in the medical community and with the public.

The Seamless Rubber Company of New Haven, Conn., a division of Rexall, manufactured Tassette.

Oreck placed newspaper ads through cooperating department stores and drugstores, although women's page editors seldom mentioned Tassette, because of its function. One ad was headed (hold your breath), "New - Monthly Protection as Dainty as a Dew-Kissed Flower," which referred to the use of a tulip to illustrate the cup. (See the ad above from the magazine Modern Screen, June 1962. The booklet it offered was entitled "A Fresh Point of View." Fresh is a favorite word with feminine hygiene advertisers). The cup was "impossible to illustrate in consumer advertising for obvious reasons," he said, and the choice of a flower is an interesting, and probably unconscious, reference to the word flowers, synonymous with menstruation for centuries.

But to reach his 'Sixties audience, he was forced to use a time-honored "feminine" approach, avoiding the word menstruation, showing a flower - how feminine can you get? - and employing the name Tassette itself, which sounds French and cute to Americans. (According to my dictionary, it means thigh armor in French. Tasse itself means cup. I think the company was creating a word meaning little cup, -ette being a diminutive.) (Continued below the picture.)
Above: from Drug Trade News, 20 March 1961. Read the article accompanying this photo. See the same photo in a different article in Advertising Age, date uncertain.

But newspapers wouldn't let him use the words vagina and vaginitis, and an advertising association protested his buying a 40' by 30' billboard space in Times Square in New York City (above) showing basically what we see in the ad above. (Look at what Kotex did in the 1920s!)

Radio spots were harder to get, and one began with a woman saying, "As a doctor, I recommend Tassette. As a woman, I rave about it. To me personally, Tassette is more than monthly protection. It's a blessing."

Oreck also sold a menstrual pain reliever called Tachine and a "menstrual skin preparation," which he hoped to market with the cup.

Tassette never made a profit and the cup disappeared in 1963. Oreck said the reasons it failed were the reluctance of the public to clean and reuse the cup; and its reusability of three to five years, so satisfied customers would not buy it again soon.

(As a footnote, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, on April 27, 1982 the Plastic Applications, Inc. Corporation Florida, 2608 NW 2nd Ave., Boca Raton, Florida, 33431, registered the Tassette trademark but abandoned it June 30, 1983.)

But Tassette, Inc., did not die, and the Tassaway cup appeared in 1970, which Oreck hoped would solve Tassette's two basic problems. See what happened.

(Most of the information above about Tassette, Tassaway and Chalmer's patent came from Advertising Age, Barron's, Drug Trade News, Editor and Publisher, Investment Dealer's Digest from the 1960s and 1970s; and from a Stock Prospectus dated 28 August 1961. Mr. Oreck refused my request for an interview, referring me to another company official; I could not find her.)

NEXT (Tassaway cup)
First cup? Tassaway, The Keeper, Daintette, Foldene

© 1997-2006 Harry Finley. It is illegal to reproduce or distribute any of the work on this Web site in any manner or medium without written permission of the author. Please report suspected violations to