Food-related inventions are born of necessity, usually. At least this is how it used to be, until our creative minds got ahead of our stomachs and we embarked on a veritable invention binge. We just can’t stop innovating. Some inventions are more useful than others. Perhaps all inventions are merely a stepping stone to something better.
The fork, well, the fork goes without saying. We used to eat like barbarians after all, picking at whatever was presented on the table with one’s own personal knife and going for seconds. There’s good material for Jerry Seinfeld right there. Remember the chips and dip segment? “Dip and end it!”
So, the fork was not an invention per se. It was merely an implement used to hold down the meat while cutting, until someone had the bright idea to make it more portable and more personal. And there is nothing wrong with eating like a barbarian. It can be quite liberating, actually.
Here are a few noteworthy ones that are so ingrained in our daily lives that we forget they have a history of their own.
The Squeeze Bottle
The Egyptians had clay vessels; we have the squeeze bottle. It was invented by a Montreal chemist and career inventor named Stanley Mason who, incidentally, is not the person who gave his name to the Mason jar. The Heintz company manufactured the squeeze bottle for home use in 1983. As for Mason, you may add peel-apart Band-Aids and underwire bras to his list of creative achievements. Proof that not all inventors are obsessed with a single endeavor.
Wisconsin, 1922. Stephen Poplawski, owner of the Stevens Electric Company, designed a recipient with motor-driven blades at the bottom for making malts and milkshakes. One must have priorities, after all. He later improved his device to purée fruits and vegetables. The famous Osterizer, if you’ve ever heard of it, was a later development by John Oster in 1946, some time after he had purchased Poplawski’s company.
First sold in Massachusetts in 1948, and invented about ten years earlier, not only did Tupperware revolutionize the marketing industry, but it greatly influenced eating habits and even refrigerator design. Its inventor, Earl Tupper, organized the first Tupperware Parties in 1951 (some sources say 1949) after the uncommon food storage containers failed to sell in stores because consumers did not understand the innovative lid design. Tupper had previously run a landscaping business but was forced to close it during the Great Depression.
Still have an appetite for more of these food inventions bites? We’ll be back with more in later articles.