Art’s World – Back to the Future

Art’s World – Back to the Future

You all know that in a couple of my “Art’s World” features how I have touted the shows on the History Channel. Specifically shows like “The Titans who Built America”, “Food that Made America”, Machines that Built America” and others showing in great detail how this country literally was built. The series runs every Sunday evening at 9 p.m. EST on the History Channel and is well worth a look. So it got me to looking back a hundred years ago. What products were invented and came along back then that are still part of our lives today? Here are just fourteen of them and some may surprise you.

1920 – Eskimo Pie – Who doesn’t like this long time ice cream favorite. Invented by Christine Nelson she teamed up with Russell Stover, of chocolate candy fame, to make this into a best seller that initially sold for a nickel. Today it is still a very popular ice cream treat.

1920 – Band-Aids – Earle Dickson made it to tend to the injuries of his wife, who often cut herself doing household chores. He worked for Johnson & Johnson, who manufactured gauze and tape. He used a piece of tape with a small-sized gauze in the middle and put it on his wife’s injured hand. He told the idea to his boss, James Wood Johnson, who liked it and the Band-Aid went into production.

1921 – Drive-in Restaurant – Kirby’s Pig Stand was the first drive-in restaurant to open in the United States. It was opened by Jessie G. Kirby and Reuben Jackson in 1921, in Dallas, Texas. Then in the 1980s, it changed ownership and name to Woodfire Kirby’s. In 2006 the company closed for good.

1922: The Blender – Steven J. Poplawski created and patented the drink mixer in 1922 and sold it to drug stores and soda fountains to make malted milkshakes. In 1946, Poplawski’s Stevens Electric Company was bought by Oster Manufacturing Products, who still make blenders today.

1922 – The Convertible – Ben P. Ellerbeck is the man credited with creating the first practical and retractable manual hardtop system in 1922. Because of the extra work and cost most auto makers stayed away from it. In 1934 Parisian Georges Paulin created the first power-operated retractable hardtop.

1923 – The Instant Camera – The first instant camera was actually created by Samuel Shlafrock in 1923 but was not successful. The instant camera has consistently evolved over the years into today’s digital camera. The first commercially successful instant camera did not hit the market until 1948 from Polaroid.

1924: Kleenex – First sold in 1924 as a cold cream and makeup remover, the paper company Kimberly Clark a couple of years later began marketing the product as a disposable handkerchief. Today, the paper is so popular people simply refer to all facial tissues as Kleenex.

1925 – Masking Tape – It was the idea of  3M employee, Richard Drew, when he observed the difficulty workers had while painting cars. Drew worked on the concept of having a tape with a gentler adhesive so it wouldn’t damage the area where it is applied. Drew received the patent for masking tape in the year 1930.

1926 – Power Steering – Francis W. Davis invented the first practical power steering system. However, due to cost factors, even though it proved to work, major automakers would not use it. It would be the late 40’s and early 50’s before it was widely accepted.

1927: Kool-Aid – Kool-Aid was dreamed up by an enterprising young Nebraskan named Edwin Perkins, who managed to dehydrate a concentrated fruit soft drink back into its sugary powder form. He called his new concoction Kool-Aid, and the rest is history.

1927 – The Juke Box – The Automatic Music Instrument Company built the first automated instrument. The idea of putting a number of records in this machine and then being able to select a song to play caught on. It gained popularity in the 1930s, and then again after WW II and became a big part of the 1950’s rock and roll culture.

1928: Chef Boyardee – It was created by a respected, Cleveland Italian chef, Ettore Boiardi. He began selling prepackaged versions of his dinners in 1928 and changed the name on the package to Boyardee so consumers could  pronounce his name. Today, Boiardi’s image is still featured on his products.

1928 – Ice Cube Trays – It was invented by Lloyd Groff Copeman in 1928. Soon  ice cube trays became a household item replacing crushed ice or ice blocks. With the use of ice cubes in drinks it created the popular phrase, “On the rocks.”

1929 – Frozen Food – Clarence Birdseye invented frozen food. He started a company called Birdseye Seafoods, Inc., in 1924. He introduced a system where dressed meat and vegetables were preserved in waxed-cardboard cartons, after being exposed to high pressure. In 1930, he got the patent for the Birdseye system of freezing food.

There were a lot more things we use every day that were invented in the 1920’s, so check them all out at:  You will be surprised to see just how many things have been around for 100 years. And that does not include me, I may be fairly close but I’m not there yet! Be sure to also check out the History Channel for those great shows I mentioned, they are very much worth your time.

Art Koch, National Features & DVD Editor, NightMoves Magazine and AAN


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