Duct tape was invented as part of the United States' efforts to develop useful tactical tools during World War II. The rifle grenade boxes were designed to include a waterproof seal with a tape tab that often failed. This left many American servicemen scrambling to open the boxes in the middle of battle. A woman named Vesta Stoudt, who had two active-duty military sons, came up with the idea for duct tape as a solution to this problem.
Stoudt was working in a factory that manufactured these hard-to-open ammunition packs. She was initially ignored, but after writing to President Roosevelt and explaining both the problem and her proposed solution, her idea was put into action. Duct tape was originally called Duck tape, and though that is a registered trademark name now, it is said that the origins of the name are related to the fact that the tape was waterproof, like a duck, and was made using cotton duck fabric.