Origins: Many companies, by dint of being the first, the biggest, the best, or the most popular, have so thoroughly established themselves in the consumer marketplace that their brand names have become common terms for the products they represent. Thus every American consumer recognizes that "band-aids" are adhesive bandages, "vaseline" is petroleum jelly, "kleenex" is facial tissue, and a "xerox" is a
In the early part of the twentieth century, the B.V.D. brand of men's underwear (notable for its front buttons and back flaps) so dominated the marketplace that 'BVDs' became a general term used to refer to any brand of similar product (i.e., lightweight, one-piece long underwear for men), and eventually to all types and brands of men's underwear as well. However, the B.V.D. company coyly kept the origin of its trademark
Mr. Mencken did not bother to so
In fact, as publicly revealed by some publications over the years, 'BVD' was an initialism taken from the surnames of the three men who founded the apparel company in 1876: Bradley, Voorhees, and Day. The B.V.D. brand lasted for a century before it was acquired by Fruit of the Loom in 1976, and it still exists as one of that company's subsidiary brands.
| History of Men's Underwear
Hendrickson, Robert. The Dictionary of Eponyms. New York: Stein and Day, 1985. ISBN 0-8128-6238-4 (pp. 50-51). Hendrickson, Robert. The Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins. New York: Checkmark Books, 1997. ISBN 0-8160-3266-1 (p. 117). Rawson, Hugh.   Devious Derivations. New York: Crown Trade Paperbacks, 1994.   ISBN 0-517-88128-4 (p. 144). Time. "Textiles: Undercover Artists." 13 August 1951. Time. "Corporations: Results of Prudent Aggression." 9 November 1962.