We make use of these things all the time, and they all appear innocent and straightforward enough – but do you actually know how they first came about?
Who had the wild idea to create them? You will be astounded when you find out the shocking true purposes behind many of these regular things!
Having a cake with enough candles to represent a person’s new age seems essential to every birthday party. Almost as though a birthday is not complete without this tradition. But have you ever wondered how the tradition of putting candles on cakes began?
It actually began in ancient Greece, when during the spring festival of Mounichia, women would bake moon shaped honey cakes filled with candles, and offer them to Artemis, the goddess of the hunt and the Moon.
This life-changing material, that was one of the integral innovations of the Industrial Revolution, was an entirely accidental discovery. Harry Brearley was working as an English metallurgist in 1912, and initially his focus was on developing heat resistant firearms.
He set about conducting experiments that would find a metal alloy that would be heat resistant. He was testing combinations of steel with different metals to reveal how they corroded with different chemicals, and discovered that chrome steel was the most resistant of all.
It is the chrome’s reaction to oxygen, where by it creates an invisible layer of chrome oxide that envelops the steel, that prevents rust forming, and corrosion from other chemicals.
I bet you assumed chocolate was added to milk to improve the flavor of the milk! Well, you are entirely wrong, it is kind of the other way around. An Irish botanist by the name of Sir Hans Sloane had been working in Jamaica in the 1700s when the locals offered him a drink of a local cocoa beverage.
He found it bitter and unpalatable, but because he enjoyed the benefits of the medicinal properties, he decided to add milk to make it appetizing. Upon returning to England he brought the recipe with him, where it was sold by apothecaries as a medicinal potion.
New Jersey engineers Marc Chavannes and Alfred Fielding invented what we now use as Bubble Wrap in 1957, when they were trying to come up with a bizarre looking wallpaper. They had sealed a couple of shower curtains together and filled the center with a pattern of air bubbles.
As wallpaper this proved unpopular, so they wondered if it would work as greenhouse insulation. But still, the product didn’t garner any interest from the public. In 1960 they realized that it worked perfectly as a protective shield – and they finally found their first client.
IBM used it to protect a computer during shipment, and immediately the popularity of the product spread. Of course, we all know the true purpose of Bubble Wrap is for stress relief.
Chinese Fortune Cookies
The staple snack at the end of any meal one has at a Chinese restaurant is the fortune cookie. But you probably had no idea that they were not originally from China! This exciting little snack containing an entertaining prediction of your future actually originated in Japan.
Yasuko Nakamachi was a Japanese scholar who was able to prove this when she produced a photo of a Japanese baker making them in 1878. During the 1920s and 1930s, Japanese immigrants to California made a living by opening chop suey restaurants, where they included fortune cookies with their meals.
However, when Franklin Roosevelt ordered that Japanese Americans be transferred to internment camps, the Chinese started to take over running the restaurants and manufacturing fortune cookies on a mass scale.
This common and healthy ingredient that you will find in most salads dates back around 5,000 years. Even art was dedicated to this humble leaf in ancient Egypt. However, they consumed it not because of the taste – which they detested – they actually believed lettuce was an aphrodisiac.
They noticed that lettuce secreted a milky substance, and they would collect that milk with the belief that consuming it would make them perform better during sex. They even worshiped lettuce, and the deity in charge of this leafy green was called Min, and his images sport an enormous erection.
This all-American past time made famous in movies like The Big Lebowski actually began in ancient Egypt. A set of stones that represented the pins and the ball were set up in the same way as today, in the tomb of an Egyptian child who died in around 3200 BC. The next time the game showed up in history was in the 3rd century AD in Germany. It was used in a religious ritual that was thought to enable parishioners to cleanse themselves of their sins. The pins represented heathen sinners, and if they knocked one over, they got a ticket to heaven.
If you have ever spent time on a treadmill at the gym and thought to yourself “this feels like a punishment!” then you are actually correct.
Treadmills were originally designed in 1818 by William Cubit, who installed them in prisons so that prisoners would be forced to walk for up for 10 hours a day for no other reason than to suffer.
Eventually wardens with clever imaginations realized these treadmills could be hooked up to water pumps and grain grinders, so they began to utilize their free prison labor to make a profit.
Henry Maar, the first clown to create balloon animals in 1939, likely had no idea he was recreating a ritual once performed by the the ancient Aztecs. Rubber obviously wasn’t available to the Aztecs, but they would make their balloons out of cat intestines.
After being dried and sealed, they would blow them up and twist them into different animal shapes. But this wasn’t for any kind of party. They would set them on fire as a tribute to their gods.