William Shepphard of New York, New York, was granted patent number 49,561 for his "Improved Liquid Soap" on August 22, 1865, for his discovery that a small amount of conventional soap could be mixed with large amounts of hartshorn to create a soap with a consistency of molasses. His invention became common in public areas, but could generally not be found in homes. Some time later, the Minnetonka Corporation began to offer Crème Soap on Tap in attractive ceramic dispensers through boutique distributors.
The product was a success, and the corporation followed up in 1980 with a similar product designed for mass retail sale. Source/Inc. was consulted to produce the brand. They created the Softsoap name and designed a package that included a distinctive custom pump bottle with a cap that obviated the need for a secondary carton to enclose the product. The package made it very easy to spot on store shelves when nearly all other soaps were in bar form. Minnetonka extended their hold on the liquid soap market by buying the entire supply of plastic pumps.
In 1987, Colgate-Palmolive purchased the liquid soap business from Minnetonka.