In 1949, a chemist named Emanuel Goldberg developed the first plastic pipette holder in Rochester, NY. Goldberg founded the Nalge Company with a small group of co-workers in order to put this revolutionary plastic material into production. The original polyethylene equipment was helpful to laboratory workers, chemists, and biologists because it was shatterproof and lighter than glass. As a result, the first Nalgene line included items like jars, bottles, tests tubes, graduated cylinders, and Petri dishes, before advancing to filter units and storage tanks.
According to the company's story, Nalgene first began serving a recreational purpose when researchers and scientists started taking the bottles out on hikes and using them for personal storage. By the 1970s, Marsh Hyman, then President of Nalge Nunc International, noticed the bottles being used for alternatives purposes. Hyman tested out the Nalgene lab bottles with his son's Boy Scout Troop, using them to store powdered drinks, pancake mix, matches, snacks, and other camping supplies. After realizing the product's potential, Hyman sent his company on a mission to "spread the word to outdoors-people all over!"
Today, Nalge Nunc International still produces lab equipment. However, the famous water bottles have branched off to the Nalgene Outdoor brand, becoming a world leader in high-quality eco-friendly camping gear in the process. The durable, polyethylene 32-ounce water bottle remains Nalgene's signature product, and it now comes in both wide mouth and narrow mouth form. The company also manufactures bottles of different sizes with different features to fit any activity. The All Terrain Bike Bottle, for example, is more portable and features a "mud flap" that prevents contamination.
The company states its primary focus as "helping people simplify their lives while respecting the environment." Now in its eighth decade of existence, Nalgene has indeed become synonymous with durable, convenient, environmentally-friendly water bottles.