1941-1965: ‘Do Not Remove This Tag Under Penalty of Law’

Part VII of the second installment on the International Sleep Products Association’s first 100 years

Mattress trade association doesn’t let up on unscrupulous practices

mattress do not remove this tag law label photo
Sometimes the butt of consumer jokes, the ‘Do Not Remove This Tag Under Penalty of Law’ label introduced in 1948 strengthened the mattress industry’s reputation and simplified labeling requirements for manufacturers.

BY JULIE A. PALM

A founding mission of the National Association of Bedding Manufacturers was to crack down on unscrupulous companies, whether they were selling old mattresses as new, making unsubstantiated advertising claims or otherwise engaging in shady practices that damaged the reputation of the entire mattress industry. In its first 25 years, NABM made significant progress in polishing the industry’s image—in large part through the enactment of sanitary bedding and labeling laws at the state level—but it was not finished.

In this subsequent era, NABM worked with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to crack down on companies that mislabeled components or construction methods and employed fictitious pricing schemes. It helped the industry adapt to a new Wool Products Labeling Act that went into effect in July 1941 and to general trade practice regulations (covering everything from the proper use of terms like “posture” and “latex foam rubber” to deceptive pricing to warranties and guarantees) that were enacted in December 1950. During the wars, NABM supported government efforts to stop a particular kind of bad behavior—violating price ceilings and component restrictions.

By 1948, the Association of Bedding Law Officials (as it was called then), working closely with NABM, had created a uniform law label for bedding that contained all new materials. The “Do Not Remove This Tag Under Penalty of Law” tag—the butt sometimes of consumer jokes—is critical to the industry’s reputation and simplifies labeling requirements for manufacturers.

“As enforcement officials, we have long sympathized with the problem which lack of uniformity in state label specifications and requirements created for the manufacturer,” wrote Vera Fisher, ABLO secretary, in an April 1948 Bedding magazine article announcing the accomplishment.

At the time of its adoption, the label’s use was permitted by 46 states, as well as the city of Detroit, though some states required slight modifications to wording or size.


Read all seven parts of this month’s special ISPA 1941-1965 centennial section:
Part I – A time of war, a time for peace
Part II – Promoting better sleep
Part III – Mattress makers introduce ‘king’ and ‘queen’ sizes
Part IV – Mattress industry introduces the sofa bed
Part V – NABM introduces magazine exclusively for bedding retailers
Part VI – Mattress components makers ‘integral’ to industry
Part VII – ‘Do Not Remove This Tag Under Penalty of Law’