William Bryant and Francis May, the English entrepreneurs behind the Bryant and May Match Company, definitely weren’t equal opportunity employers; though, men back in the 1860’s were no doubt fine with the lack of gender neutrality. To fill their factory, Bryant and May hired only teenage females, impoverished young ladies who were too desperate and afraid to stand up for themselves.

Since they were such English gentlemen, Bryant and May imposed a bunch of obnoxious restrictions on their female underlings, such as fines every time a girl would wipe tears off her eyes, which the bosses said was to protect their precious machinery from being tainted by tears. Also, the girls couldn’t take bathroom breaks, and employees were actually fired if their hands were torn apart by the machines.

Even worse, Bryant and May were cheapskates. Looking to cut their costs, they started using a less expensive phosphor to make their matches, a hazardous type that caused workers to suffer “phossy jaw,” which referred to workers who inhaled the new phosphor’s fumes and felt their jaw bones begin to rot away. Anything to save a buck, right?