You Probably Didn't Know Morton Salt Invented This Common Saying

We've all had those days ... you know, the ones that are nothing but a series of unfortunate events. First, you wake up late and stub your toe while running to the kitchen. Then, you spill scalding hot coffee on your lap during your traffic-ridden morning commute. Next, you're reprimanded by your boss for being tardy. Before you know it, you receive some bad news that leaves you a ball of stress. An expression probably comes to mind: "When it rains, it pours." In other words, once one moment of adversity occurs, several others tend to follow, almost like a domino effect.

You may think this solemnly reassuring phrase is ancient. However, in reality, it started as a quirky advertising slogan in the early 1900s that was originally used by a brand you've probably had in your kitchen at some point — perhaps even right now. The Morton Salt Company, which is based in Chicago, Illinois, had just launched its newest product, a free-flowing table salt. You can probably envision the product now: the iconic dark blue can with a pouring spout out of which the salt crystals seamlessly stream. The company wanted to promote its patented innovation with a motto that would stick in consumers' minds, per Huffington Post. Well, let's just say their strategy was successful.

Morton Salt coined the everyday metaphoric phrase, 'When it rains, it pours'

That's right! The all-too-familiar proverb came from the creative brains of advertising executives back in 1911. Morton Salt had recently added magnesium carbonate to its salt (via Huffington Post), which prevented caking and allowed it to pour freely out of the container. Without this new formula, the salt would tend to clump together if there was too much moisture in the air. Morton wanted to tell consumers that with this new technology, the salt was now able to dispense much more easily, even on rainy days.

You've likely seen Morton's famously adorable "umbrella girl," who was illustrated by a designer at N.W. Ayers & Company, the Philadelphia advertising agency responsible for the campaign. As the ad team was brainstorming slogans to coordinate with the art, they pitched a few that fell flat, including, "Even in rainy weather, it flows freely" and "It never rains, but it pours." They eventually stumbled upon the winner: "When it rains, it pours." And ever since 1914, just over a century ago (when both were trademarked), the yellow-haired, yellow raincoat-sporting girl — who has become a pop culture icon — and the accompanying slogan have appeared on Morton products around the globe (per History Daily).