Sex + Dating

19 Fascinating Facts You Never Knew About Condoms

a variety of colorful condoms
Andrew Paterson/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

There's a lot we already know about condoms: their ability to prevent STDs and pregnancy; their various styles, colors, and textures; their uncanny ability to break at the worst moments.

But there's a lot we don't know. Like how condoms evolved, how many are given out to Olympian athletes, whether Magnums are really all they're cracked up to be... prepare to be amazed.

Female condoms can be inserted a full eight hours before sex

...although why you'd be compelled to do so is beyond us.

Condoms used to be cost-prohibitive -- and reusable

As early as the 1600s, animal-based condoms were available to the public… for a price. One condom could easily cost a US prostitute three months' pay. So, condoms got reused. A lot. And up until around 1844, when Charles Goodyear (of tire fame) and Thomas Hancock began to mass-produce rubber condoms on the cheap.

Condoms average a shelf life of four years

IF they're kept cool and dry -- not folded up in your wallet and jammed into your jeans' back pocket.

alternative use for condom
Haris M/Shutterstock

There are tons of alternate uses for condoms

Condoms offer a myriad of other survival hacks like carrying water, starting a fire or protecting tinder, building sling shots and functioning as rubber gloves. But they're also being used for waterproofing roofs and rebuilding roads, acne medication and drug-smuggling.
 

Condoms make sex like 10,000 times safer

Planned Parenthood claims this estimate is attributed to a condom's ability to prevent HIV -- a factoid comes from a 1992 study called "Effectiveness of Latex Condoms as a Barrier to Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Sized Particles Under Conditions of Simulated Use."
 

Durex invented latex

No fooling. A hundred years ago the business was known as The London Rubber Company, and invented latex in 1920.
 

NEVER double-bag body parts

Putting two condoms on does not, I repeat DOES NOT, offer any additional protection whatsoever. And, in fact, double-wrapping ups your chances of having the condom break.
 

Olympians go for the (sexual) gold

Sixteen years ago at the Sydney Summer Olympics, 6,582 male athletes were armed with 70,000 condoms. When the competitors ran out, an emergency order was issued for 20,000 more. Fast-forward to 2014, when athletes in the Sochi Olympics were distributed 100,000 condoms… roughly the equivalent of 35 CONDOMS EACH. Good lord.
 

Once upon a time, condoms only came through Rx

Yup, once upon a time you needed a prescription to get your hands on some rubbers, making them even more embarrassing to buy. And also, damn near impossible if you were a woman. Luckily for everyone fooling around with flappers and mob bosses at the peak of Prohibition, condoms became available by vending machine in 1928. That was thanks to the first international condom manufacturer, Fromms Act out of Germany.

Trojan Dash
FTP Edelman

But now there's Trojan Dash

Trojan just unveiled an easy, virtual way to never run out of condoms again with Amazon Dash. Just park the WiFi-connected button on your nightstand, and when you start running low on rubbers push the easy button (free shipping with Amazon Prime!). Happy Future, team!
 

Condoms don't affect pleasure... for women

Women are equally as likely to orgasm with a condom as without, according to research by Debby Hebernick, PhD, a research scientist at Indiana University and author of Because It Feels Good.
 

The Nazis took over condom production during WWII

Julius Fromm built a condom empire by 1931 in Germany, producing more than 50 million condoms for international use. Fromm -- Jewish by birth -- felt Germany's mounting anti-Semitism and moved to London in 1938, and the Nazis took over his business. Fromm always hoped to return to Germany and regain control of his enterprise; however he died in London three days after the conclusion of World War II.
 

And the first TV show to air a condom commercial ever goes to...

Herman's Head. Real life.
 

Before (um, and after) the condom boom, pregnancy-prevention methods were totally crazy

Women have tried all kinds of wacky pregnancy-prevention methods, including but of course not limited to: drinking mercury or lead, soaking sponges in lemon juice before inserting them into the vagina, wearing weasel balls on their legs, shooting Coca-Cola into a woman's crotch and even inserting alligator shit into the vagina. Nice work, everybody!

Magnums are actually a total farce

Sorry to burst your bubble, fellas, but Magnums are a sweet marketing maneuver and (very) little more. While they're sized to accommodate a girth of 5.3 inches or more, they actually will fit most penis sizes… including the very, very average. This specialty branding of Trojan belies a product that is the same length as regular condoms, and the same circumference at its base. It basically just occurred to advertisers that guys would be pumped to buy anything for their johnsons marked "magnum".
 

Condoms used to cover just the tip

Glans condoms used to be all the rage, and often made from animal bits. Pre-15th-century-China, little pieces of oiled silk were put over the end of the penis. Meanwhile, guys in Japan sported caps made of tortoise shell for the tips of their dongs.
 

Condom quality control is electric

To test for holes and tears, factories send electric currents through condoms
 

... and involves test "models"

Assembly line condoms destined for real-world use can undergo the electricity test; but there are other tests conducted on samples to check on overall strength, likelihood of tearing, and the like. For these, sample condoms are subjected to airbursts, water, and even unrolled onto dildos and (in the case of female condoms) rubber vaginas.
 

There are so many ways to set records with condoms!

World-record-related condom bests include: longest bungee cord made of condoms, the most amount of times sucking a condom into one's nose, and most condom packets stacked on head.

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Nicole Caldwell is Thrillist's Sex & Dating editor, and used to love watching Herman's Head.