Often whilst wandering the narrow yet visually cacophonous aisles of Manhattan supermarkets, we find ourselves wishing that more companies would revert to the guileless, occasionally awkward, and often delightful branding of a simpler time. WD-40 has heeded our call by issuing a special “collector’s can,” a fully functional reproduction of the original black and yellow spray can from the 1950s. Created (on the fortieth attempt) in 1953 by a fledgling enterprise called Rocket Chemical Company, WD-40 is a water displacer (WD) that was first used to protect the Atlas Missile from corrosion. Since then, the miraculous lubricant has soared even higher, becoming what WD-40 Company president and CEO Garry O. Ridge describes as “the number one brand of multi-purpose maintenance product in the world,” a vaguely omninous superlative that we wouldn’t mind seeing printed on a distressed t-shirt.
For ease of comparison (and so as not to confuse shoppers trained to search for the iconic blue and yellow container), the new retro can is part of a limited-edition “Now & Then Twin Pack” (pictured) that hit store shelves nationwide earlier this month. Just don’t look for the nostalgic can to come with a “smart straw,” the permanently attached flip straw whose 2005 introduction was lauded by users who were forever losing the ignorant, detachable straws. “While the smart straw represents the latest in WD-40 innovation, the collector’s can represents a rich heritage and America’s love affair with the WD-40 brand,” said Tim Lesmeister, vice president of marketing for WD-40 Company, who favors a broad and slippery definition of “love affair.” Then again, how many spray lubricants do you know with a bustling fan club?