In 1944 carrier pigeons were extremely important in the war effort. They carried important information from the front lines to the command centers. The problem was getting the carrier pigeons to those front lines safely. Initially, pigeons were dropped from planes in small containers with parachutes attached. Inevitably some got caught in trees. Others came down too hard and injured or killed the pigeons inside. The military needed help.
Like many companies, Maidenform was stifled by restrictions on what could be used in manufacturing as many staples were now being used exclusively by the government for the war effort. Maidenform’s founder, Ida Cohen Rosenthal, a Russian immigrant, came up with a novel way to transform her bra factory to support the war effort. Upon hearing of the carrier pigeon’s plight, she thought up the idea of binding the pigeons safely in bra-like material and strapping this to the paratrooper’s vests so they could hitch a ride with them. The U.S. military liked the idea and commissioned Maidenform to create almost 30,000 “pigeon bras” (as they were eventually called by the soldiers) and nary a pigeon lost its life during deployment again.