Who Invented The Blender

vitamix-blenderIt is an item used a lot in kitchens, and whether you are after a home-made milkshake, alternative baby food, or for separate foods to not be so separate, a blender performs the messy task that its name implies. But who first came up with the idea of creating the blender?

In the year 1922, American Stephen Poplawski (owner of the Stevens Electronics Company) is credited as having first produced the idea of implementing an electronic fast-spinning blade at the bottom of a plastic container as a means of turning more solid foods into liquid, with an official patent (‘device for turning fruit and vegetables into liquid’) being awarded to him in 1932.

It could be argued that he got his inspiration mainly from the first-ever AC/DC motor created by Hamilton Beach Manufacturing Co. in 1910, although the company’s co-founder Fred Osius would go on (over 25 years later) to find ways to improve on Poplawski’s product.

Despite Osius’ and other developer’s future attempts, though, there have been not been many groundbreaking developments or improvements on the original concept aside from improved reliability and small modified features, as well as much greater levels of marketing, which was funded by singer Fred Waring, whose interest in gadgets is said to have convinced him to financially back Osius’ design for a ‘Miracle Mixer’ which was later renamed as the ‘Waring Blendor’.

The product was advertised by Osius on roadshows across America in the late 1930’s, and the concept has not looked back since, sold by many companies worldwide with slight tweaks of features including specific food settings, timers, and speed levels. Blenders are now used in a number of day-to-day cooking activities, but drinks (in particular alcoholic ‘mixers’) remain the device’s main domain.

However, with modern society and video sharing websites such as YouTube, it is not just common food that gets put under the blender’s blade, as the popular Blendtec-operated web series Will It Blend? demonstrates. Featured below are blending attempts at an iPad, trainers, glowsticks, and a collection of Justin Bieber memorabilia. Just remember to keep the lid on…

Blender – Wikipedia

Who Invented Supermarkets

shopping basketThe supermarket is one of the things that society takes most for granted, and while they somewhat lack the charm of a small business for specific areas of groceries (e.g. bakers, butchers, fruit stalls, etc.), they are by far the most popular method of purchase with consumers, due to their lower prices, higher product range, and an ‘all-in-one’ feel to the location. Giants in the industry such as Wal-Mart (USA), and Tesco (UK) are always branching out into new ventures (banking, electronics, insurance, etc.) to expand their circle of operations, and it is tough to imagine that there was once a time where such a concept did not exist. So who first came up with the idea of a multi-purpose shop?

Clarence_Saunders95 years ago, to go shopping, a person would either buy their specific groceries from a specialised shop (e.g. bakers), or visit a ‘retail store’, in which a customer would list the items they want before an assistant collected them from a storage room or behind-counter shelf. 1916 would be the year to revoloutionise this concept, though, after Clarence Sanders, a local grocer who had moved to Memphis (USA) looking for a more efficient way to run this type of business, would create the concept of a ‘self-service’ store. Putting his money where his mouth was, he would create the first business of its kind, ‘Piggly Wiggly’ (which still runs today as a franchise). This would lead to several patents awarded to Sanders for his concepts used on the first-ever Piggly Wiggly store alone.

The concept of self-service shopping would catch on fast, and the supermarket was also said to be responsible for the breakout of brand power, with users now identified more with companies who make products now that they have a choice (pre-supermarket ‘retail stores’ would not have this kind of situation, as the customer would not actually see the name of the company that made the product). For Sanders, who passed away in 1953, the supermarket would be the first of several concepts he was patented with (such as ‘keedoozle’ (a larger, manned version of modern-day vending machines), and a self-service checkout (‘foodelectric’) (which is seeing an increasing emergence in newer supermarkets)), and is seen now as a character who was way ahead of his time in his way of thinking.

Today, supermarkets are the primary method of all retail, and with the concept so popular, it was only natural that a gameshow was made of it. Here are some highlights of a format

Supermarkets- Wikipedia

Who Invented The Marshmallow

marshmallow-scrub-1220-pThey are widely regarded as a popular form of candy in a variety of sizes, to suit a variety of purposes such as cooking them on a campfire to supplementing a mug of hot chocolate, and can be equally enjoyed on their own merit, but who first invented the unexplainable form of sweet taste that is the marshmallow?

It is said that original ‘marshmallow candy’ had first come about in ancient Egyptian times. This early effort was made by a form of honey candy that was then thickened and flavoured by sap from a Marsh-Mallow plant (the plants were found in and around salt water basins).

In the 19th century, this form of treat would form a purpose, with the Marsh-Mallow plant’s extracted juices being cooked according to recipe to create a ‘hardened foamy meringue’ that was termed as a ‘medicinal candy’ used in efforts of healing children’s sore throats.

Despite more advanced and stock-friendly mass manufacturing methods and ingredients replacing the plant extraction approach used in creating the snack (which would lose the medicinal effect of its more natural counterpart) come the mid-1800’s, the marshmallow (today made with key ingredients such as corn syrup (or sugar), gelatin (for shape), gum arabic, and flavoring) was becoming popularised as a common snack.

With developments taking the manufacturing process from ‘hand-crafted’ to ‘machine-assisted’, 1948 saw the pinnacle of development in this field, when Alex Doumak, an American man employed in this field, experimented with new methods of marshmallow making. What he discovered was a faster method of creation now known as the ‘extrusion process’, which involves sending a fluffy mixture through long tubes and pipes ready for cutting into equal pieces, the types of marshmallow seen most commonly today.

In 1953, the Just Born candy would be one of the first to really begin mass-producing, marketing and selling marshmallows, with the novelty of chick-shaped marshmallows known as ‘Peeps’.

Since then, other confectionery companies have made and sold marshmallows by the proverbial bucket-load, with the snack fast becoming seen in many shapes, sizes and colours while being applied to numerous sweet-based recipes (such as s’mores).

Marshmallows – Wikipedia

Who Invented The Pretzel

pretzelsPretzels are commonly known as the small and oddly-shaped salted snack similar to potato crisps/chips, but the term does infact extend to include a plethora of baked goods that share the distinctive knot-like appearance. The doughy version is most popular in Germany and the USA, but the whole world is aware of the tasty tied-up snack. But who first came up with it?

There are several claimed origins of pretzels, with 12th-century Germany, and Spain (date unknown) both touted, but the most common answer to the question is that the ‘pretzel’ design was first concieved by an Italian priest, who baked them as rewards for children who learned their prayers (hense the ‘praying hands’ shape). This is the recognised origin of the snack, yet it is German culture which is synonymous with the pretzel, as it was where it was given its recognised name, with the snack developed over time in that country.

Pretzels as they are best known today are as light snacks, and their distinctive shape and variety of flavours (although salted is still the main choice) gives them a strong foothold as a marketable product, and with such demand, it is fortunate that modern technology is on hand to help mass-produce a popular item of food such as this. Below is a video that gives an overview of this process:

Pretzel – Wikipedia

Who Invented Christmas Pudding

christmas_puddingThe Christmas Pudding is a tradition that is strongly followed at many households (with varying levels of detail) worldwide that celebrate the holiday, and is seen by some as the perfect finish to a traditional Chrismas dinner. Nowadays, customers can easily purchase one from a shop or bakery, but despite the lengthy history of this unique food item the creation of a pudding can pass by unnoticed, so who was it that originally invented this dessert, when did they do it, and why?
While the inventor of Christmas Pudding cannot be pin-pointed in the history books, a legend behind the history of it suggests that there was a royal influence to its inception, a medievil English folk tale telling the tale of a king on Christmas Eve in lost in a forest with little supplies or food, who seeked food and shelter from a poor woodman’s cottage. The occupant did not have much food either, though, so the king’s servant was asked to mix together a meal from all the collective ingredients remaining from both people (chopped suet, flour, eggs, apples, dried plums, ale, sugar and brandy), and after being boiled in a cloth, the mixture became a delicious pudding for everyone to share.
The pudding was said to have become widespread in 1714 after King George I had ordered it to become part of the official royal Christmas dinner, despite objections from Puritan Christians, who claimed that this dessert was not in accordance with God’s will due to the rich ingredients. George I carried on regardless, though, and the Christmas Pudding has been a symbol of the holiday season ever since.
The use of plums in the recipe (which is said to have dated back further than the folk tale in various incarnations, including a recipe for a ‘sweet soup’) meant that the dessert was originally known as ‘plum pudding’. Although this tradition has long since disappeared, there are many more that have withstood the development of the pudding to what it has become today (in size and ingredients).
These traditions have included some people using exactly 13 ingredients for the pudding (representing Jesus & his disciples), putting coins (originally silver) in the mixture for the recipient (whoever had a slice with coins in, kept them, representing wealth going into the new year), and allowing each family member to stir the mixture whilst making a secret wish, amongst other religiously-based rituals.

While widely available nowadays from external outlets, those that cook their pudding from scratch might prepare it weeks or months in advance in advance to honour historical methods, as well as to allow the flavour to mature, such as with wine. If they do this, then they may want to get it just right for a fun reason, as Christmas Puddings are also notable for being a ‘flambe’ (flammable) food, with a group of TV chefs showing how this entertaining pre-meal ritual can be achieved:

Who Invented The Coke And Mentos Experiment

coke and mentos did not take off in popular culture until 2006, when two journalists (David Kestenbaum and Michele Norris) released a blog based on it

coke&mentosIt is not normally socially acceptable to play with your food, but in the instance of a ‘coke and mentos eruption’, the entertainment value can throw that perception out of the window. Who introduced the world to this bizzare application of science?

Despite the experiment being shown and explained on a TV chat show in 1999 (by physics student Spencer Tyler), ‘coke and mentos‘ did not take off in popular culture until 2006, when two journalists (David Kestenbaum and Michele Norris) released a blog based on it, and within months video sharing websites such as YouTube were packed with new videos of people trying the creation of a carbonate beverage-based explosion for themselves.

After many tried efforts with a variety of mints (or even fruit-flavoured ‘mentos’) and drinks (such as lemonade) in combination, it is regarded that the combination for a big explosion is to use Diet Coke and Original Mint-flavoured Mentos. This ‘formula’ provides the quickest reaction, and therefore the ‘highest’ explosion, with the Guiness World Record height for an explosion measuring at over 9 meters (with the aid of a nozzle). A testament to the popularity of the ‘coke and mentos’ explosions is that some joke shops now sell mentos with the advertised purpose of causing explosions.

An example of this bizzare experiment can be seen in the video below:

Diet Coke and Mentos Eruption – Wikipedia

Who Invented Tic Tacs

Everyone knows Tic Tacs as the packet of small flavoured pellets (usually mint) that are good for either a small snack, or for breath refreshment, but a question that will often pass people’s minds is “who was it that came up this product, and when?”

tic tacsEveryone knows Tic Tacs as the packet of small flavoured pellets (usually mint) that are good for either a small snack, or for breath refreshment, but a question that will often pass people’s minds is “who was it that came up this product, and when?”

In 1969, the Ferrero family, owners of the (extremely secretive) Italian snack company Ferrero and famous for other products such as Nutella, Kinder Surprise, and Ferrero Rocher, decided to enter the world of ‘breath mints’, launching with the original ‘Fresh Mint’ flavour, and expanding to include different varieties based on other mints and fruit, along with special editions based on the time of year, and now, ‘mixed bags’, where a pack may contain two different flavours (e.g. ‘Lemon & Lime’). The expansions have seen Tic Tac become one of the most well-known snacks around, especially in the mints department.

Having seen over 40 different flavours come and go over the years, Tic Tacs are still very much a popular snack, with the stand-out features of recent TV adverts further raising their profile. An example of this can be seen below, with the costumed ‘Tic Tac people’ part of the slogan campaign ‘another refreshing little lift’.

Tic Tac – Wikipedia