These Products are Breaking the Packaging Design Mold

Last week, we wrote a blog about five examples of creative product packaging designs and how they stand out among competitors. So, we decided to focus this blog on brands, like Toblerone, EOS and Pringles, that stand out on the store shelves.

Let’s take a look at some creative and out-of-the-box packaging designs and how these products stand out among other brands!

Toblerone- The triangular-shape of Toblerone candy has a very distinct packaging design and has become a symbol of Switzerland and airport duty-free shops.

The unusual shape of this packaging design is very commonly mistaken to be inspired by the Swiss Alps, more specifically, the Matterhorn. However, the candy’s creator, Theodor Tobler, based the idea of his packaging design on the Folies Bergere in Paris, whose dancers ended their performances in a pyramid formation.

In 1908, the Tobler Company came up with the honey and almond nougat recipe and its unique shape, which was patented a year later. It’s rumored that the person who granted the Tobler’s the patent was Albert Einstein, who at the time worked at the Swiss patent office.

EOS- So there you are in your local drug store, searching high and low for the perfect lip balm; you see different tubes, some in little cardboard boxes and others perfectly lined up, waiting for you to pick one up. Nothing catches your eye, until you see a little egg-shaped container that instantly puts a smile on your face. That’s exactly what Evolution of Smooth, otherwise known as EOS, was working towards when they created their egg-shaped packaging design for their product. Also known as the “Smooth Sphere,” EOS wanted to create a unique packaging design that would make the consumer smile.

Pringles Can- You’ve probably heard it before, “Once you pop, the fun don’t stop;” although they are lacking in the grammar department, the Pringles brand is excelling in the chip aisle. Aside from their taste and variety of flavors, Pringles are primarily known for their packaging, the tubular paperboard can that is lined with foil and a plastic lid. This package design stands out among the countless brands that package their product in bags. Throughout the years, Pringles have turned to advertising campaigns that compared their product to conventional potato chips. For instance, they were once marketed as the “Newfangled Potato Chips” and had a small silver pop-top to open the can. Since the 1980s, those pop-top cans have been replaced with foil tops. The Pringles remained fresh and unbroken and the package design of the can holds as many chips as a bag. Their curvy shape allows them to be stackable, which was the inspiration of their slogan, “Other potato chips just don’t stack up.” Touché Pringles; we see what you did there.

The stand-out packaging design of the Pringles tube was invented by Fredric J. Baur, an organic chemist and food storage technician, who specialized in research and development and quality control for Cincinnati-based P & G.

From triangular-shaped chocolate, spherical lip balm and a can of potato chips, these are just a few of the creative and out-of-the-box packaging designs that stand out among other brands because of their unusual shapes and sizes!

Copyright Davison 2014



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The Road from Chuck Wagons to Food Trucks

Once known as a “chuck wagon,” the idea of the food truck has been around for quite some time. In the United States, food trucks have been serving quick and affordable food on-the-go since the end of the U.S. Civil War, when there was a large expansion of settlements that moved westward across the country.

The idea for food trucks came to be when there was a great need to feed working men on the road. In 1866, Charles Goodnight found a better way to cook on the road when he invented the chuck wagon, a portable kitchen wagon that was used on the cattle trails.

The chuck wagon was usually drawn by oxen or mules and carried food, eating utensils, a water barrel, tools and bed rolls that were tucked away and covered by a canvas covering. A counter was attached to the wagon by hinges that folded outwards and was used for preparing the food and as a table.

The food prepared on the chuck wagon was fairly simple and easy to keep. Foods, such as peas, beans, corn and cabbage, were very common, as well as ample amounts of beef and bison steaks that were often added to stews.

By the 1890s, big cities like New York began to hitch onto the food wagon idea when ‘night lunch wagons’ became a staple. These wagons were created in order to cater to night time workers. Many of these trucks did such good business that, despite being mobile, they stayed in one spot. As time went on, the food truck contained mobile canteens that worked on US Army bases while others served the blue-collar work force.

The cowboy’s chuck wagon blazed the trails and led us to what we now know today as the modern-day food truck.

The revival of the food truck today is due in part to the recent recession, when many chefs were out of work and food trucks seemed to be the only viable choice in offering people delicious food that was prepared quickly and sold at a reasonable price.

However, the success and resurgence of food trucks wouldn’t have been possible without a side of social media, in particular, Twitter. This social media platform provided a convenient way to find out when and where a food truck would be located that day.

Now, more than ever, food trucks are everywhere. From street corners to county fairs, food trucks have taken the route of convenience and are delivering their meals on wheels to customers. However, some have expanded from plain and simple foods to delicious, gourmet foods; so, there are quite a few varieties of food trucks on the road today.

From the original idea of the chuck wagon to food trucks selling everything from sushi to cupcakes, the idea of the food truck has revolutionized the way we get our food today. From rural areas to the heart of the nation’s busiest cities, food trucks continue to travel their way into uncharted territories by catering events like weddings and even to those with late night munchies.

We’re sure that inventor and idea man Charles Goodnight could not have foreseen the success and evolution of his idea. Now, more than ever, if you see a food truck parked on the block serving food during the day and even to those at odd hours of the evening, you know that that food truck will offer a great end to a “Goodnight.”

Copyright Davison 2013







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The Meaty History of Buffalo Wings

Buffalo wings have been synonymous with sporting events and an evening out with friends for what seems to be a very long time. But, in actuality, the idea of eating chicken wings drenched in signature sauces, ranging from barbeque, mild, hot and everything in between, has only been around for 49 years.

In 2012, the National Chicken Council projected that Americans would consume around 1.25 billion chicken wings during the weekend of the Super Bowl.  If you can’t wrap your mind around those figures, think of it this way: If the wings were laid end-to-end they would circle around the circumference of the Earth more than twice. Still can’t picture it? The translation of this idea is that the wings would be equal to the distance that would reach approximately a quarter of the way to the moon. Now that’s a lot of chicken wings!

So, where exactly did the idea for this deliciously-sinful meal come from? Although these wings have absolutely nothing to do with a buffalo, they do, in fact, have a lot to do with Buffalo, New York.

It all started at the “Anchor Bar,” a restaurant owned by Frank and Teressa Bellissimo, which was conveniently located in Buffalo, New York.

The story begins in 1964, when Teressa and Frank’s son, Dominic, arrived at his family’s restaurant after a night on the town, looking for a late-night snack.  When Dominic asked his mother to prepare some food, she came back with chicken wings, which were commonly used for flavoring stock for soup.

However, these weren’t just plain chicken wings, but a flavorful variation.  Teressa served her son and his hungry group of friends the deep fried wings that were covered in a secret tangy sauce. The wings became an instant hit with the guys and, once word spread about the new menu item, people began to pour into the bar to get a taste of these fried chicken wings that were served with a side of celery and bleu cheese. From that point on, Buffalo wings became an integral part of the Anchor Bar menu.

Although there isn’t one definite story behind the idea of the Buffalo wing, we are certain that there is one overarching verdict; Teressa Bellissimo is the mother of the idea and invention of Buffalo wings.

Copyright Davison 2013





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‘Troll’ing for Patents

Patent trolls, otherwise known as NPEs (Non-practicing entities), are comprised of companies that don’t make or sell anything; they solely own patents. The money that is made by these entities comes primarily from obtaining licensing fees from businesses that use technologies covered by the patents they own.

First known as “patent sharks,” these persons/entities, now known as patent trolls, initially targeted farmers equipped with patents for barbed wire and sliding gates.

Shockingly enough, patent trolls have been around since the days of Henry Ford’s Model T. In fact, in 1903, George Selden, a patent attorney, sued Henry Ford and four other car manufacturers and insisted that he receive a royalty for every car that was sold. Despite not ever actively advancing automotive technology at the time, Selden held a patent, which was claimed to cover the automobile.

However, in 1999, Peter Detkin, a lawyer at Intel Corporation, became increasingly frustrated when he realized that companies that had never produced a semiconductor chip were suing Intel for $15 million on the grounds of patent infringement. Initially, Detkin called these adversaries, “patent extortionists,” but was immediately threatened with a libel suit.  He decided to come up with another nickname, “patent trolls,” after the fairy-tale trolls in “Three Billy Goats Gruff” who lived under the bridges and continually threatened those who would try to cross them.

So how do the NPEs do business? For starters, they purchase and collect large portfolios of patents from companies that are going out of business, or from other firms that have already done the leg work and developed the technology, but never truly intended to pursue. More times than not, the main target of the trolls are tech companies. Additionally, NPEs buy patents from inventors who do not have the funds to further develop their ideas.

Once these bases are covered, the trolls will then begin to hunt for products that have found success that use the technology covered by their patents and demand a licensing fee. The company being targeted by the patent trolls will, more times than not, settle out of court, due to the fact that patent suits are very expensive to defend.

While the idea of a patent troll may seem terrible for innovation, there are some people who believe that the NPEs are a good thing and actually spur innovation.

In earlier years, when an inventor could not afford to develop an idea, he/she would receive cash from a patent troll and would let the NPE enforce the patent. The cash that was given to the inventor acted as an incentive to keep inventing.

In recent years, companies like J.C. Penney, Foot Locker, Macy’s and American Eagle Outfitters have been targeted by trolls for JPEG files that are commonly used to send out promotional information to customers on their websites. In these cases, the patent trolls want companies to pay up for using JPEG files.

In fact, President Obama commented on the situation and stated that companies are abusing the patent system and that Congress is working on legislative plans to thwart the business of NPEs.

Only time will tell if the raised awareness and action by the government will prevent patent trolls from targeting innovative and hopeful inventors.

Copyright Davison 2013





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Those Inventors Patented What?

We recently talked about two very influential inventors in the world of patents, Dr. NakaMats and Esther Takeuchi.  They both have many notable patents under their belts for inventions such as the floppy disk and a life-saving implantable defibrillator.

Now, we are going to take a look at a different side of patents; and, sometimes, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.  These wacky patents show just how creative and crazy some inventors can be!

Comb over Patent- Contrary to popular belief, Donald Trump did not invent the comb over. In fact, in 1977, inventors Donald J. Smith and Frank J. Smith received a U.S. patent for a “Method for Concealing Partial Baldness.” The process is simply explained as first dividing remaining hair into three sections and then carefully combing it across your head. In 2004, the father-son duo won an Ig Nobel Prize in engineering for their 1977 patent. This patent was meant to allow Frank to become the father of the now infamous hairstyle.

Congratulatory Patents- There are times in life where we think we deserve a pat on the back or perhaps a high five, but there is no one there to recognize our accomplishments. Two inventors found this to be quite a problem and obtained a patent for their ideas.

Ralph R. Piro patented the “Pat on the Back Apparatus” on September 2, 1986. This patent was for a self-congratulatory apparatus that would simulate a pat on the back. The proposed invention contained a simulated human hand that was carried on a pivoting arm that would be suspended from a shoulder supported member. The hand would be manually swung in and out of contact with the user’s back, in order to give an amusing or well-deserved pat-on-the-back.

How about a high five? Have you ever been watching a sporting event on TV by yourself and after a great play wished that you could give someone a high five to celebrate? Well, inventor Albert Cohen filed an invention patent for an “Apparatus for Simulating a ‘High Five.’” The description of the patent notes that a “high five” requires the mutual hand-slapping of two people, so when a person is watching a televised sporting event solo, this invention will allow him/her to express excitement and perform a “high five.”

Soup Bowl Attraction- As we head into the cold months of fall and winter, there is nothing quite as nice as a hot bowl of soup on a dark, cold day.  Two inventors took this warm bowl of soup to a whole new level when William George Adamson and Donald Lewis Updyke Jr. filed U.S. patent, US6168531 B1, for a “Soup Bowl Attraction.”  This patent was filed for an entertainment attraction that consists of a bowl-shaped member having a top, bounded by a top rim, a bottom that permits light transmission and sidewalls that are connected to the top rim with a fog generator, producing a layer of fog at the top of the bowl-shaped member.

The 1999 patent was designed to create excitement for children as they get closer and closer to what seems to be a full pot of boiling water. Although the interactive part of the attraction is vague, we can almost be certain that this type of amusement park attraction won’t be appearing at Disney World anytime soon.

There are a wide range of patents, from congratulatory patents to a patent for the classic hairstyle of the comb over to an interactive soup bowl attraction.  Clearly, patents aren’t just limited to practical inventions. Whether patents are filed in order to better society or are just plain wacky, we can be sure that there will never be a lapse of new innovations in the world of patents.

Copyright Davison 2013






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Adding a Positive Charge to the World of Patents

On Tuesday, we talked about Japanese inventor, Dr. NakaMats, the man with the most patents, who goes to great lengths in order to continue to generate great ideas and patents. Now, we want to shift gears and take a look at the woman with the most patents.

Esther Takeuchi, through amazing intelligence, diligence and hard work, has invented a life-saving medical device, in addition to countless notable patents credited to her name.

With more than 150 U.S. patents registered with the U.S. Patent Office, Takeuchi is the most “patent-est” woman in America. In addition to her illustrious patenting career, Takeuchi is also a professor at the University of Buffalo and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2011. This award honors legendary inventors whose innovations have changed the world.

And, helping to change the world is exactly what she has done. She is best known for her invention of the battery that made implantable cardiac defibrillators possible, now a multibillion dollar business.

Her invention of the lithium/silver vanadium oxide battery has changed the game in the medical world. With the help of inventors, Hong Gan, Kenneth Syracuse and Noelle Waite, Takeuchi was able to develop this patent which was published on June 22, 2005.

The battery, otherwise known as LiSVO, enables power source technology, making it possible for a successful implementation of the implantable cardiac defibrillator. Her invention has become a life-saving medical technology.

Additionally, almost all of Takeuchi’s patents pertain to energy sources and batteries, most of which are used to power biomedical implantable devices like tiny drug-delivery systems and neurostimulators, in addition to her most famous invention, the life-saving cardiac defibrillators.

This invention, which was created for treating serious cardiac arrhythmia, was honored by President Obama in 2009, when she was presented with the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.

While at the University of Buffalo, Takeuchi spoke about the importance of patents in her career.

“Patents are one of the things that drive me. I have this belief that what we are doing in the lab should have a direct impact on human lives. Fundamental research is the basis, but for me, thinking about the next step is also important.”

Although she has made great strides in the world of science through her patents and inventions, Takeuchi’s frustration continues to build as she believes that the sciences are still too exclusive. In the following clip, Takeuchi talks about her upbringing, her famous invention and how women play an important role in science.

Copyright Davison 2013





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Famous Patent Holders

What do Albert Einstein, Michael Jackson and Jamie Lee Curtis have in common? If you guessed that they are all famous, you are partially correct. However, another common thread that these three share is that they all held a patent at one point in their lives.

Although their ideas for their inventions were drastically different, each of them took a step towards making their idea become a reality.

In 2011, we wrote a blog about celebrity inventors, however, this time around, we wanted to take a deeper look at these celebrities and their patents!

Although it may not be a surprise that Albert Einstein would hold a patent, it may come as a surprise to think of Michael Jackson and Jamie Lee Curtis as patent holders.

Albert Einstein– In addition to being the most famous scientist in the 20th century, Albert Einstein was also well-versed in the world of patents. For seven years, Einstein worked as a patent clerk and was responsible for examining the blueprints of other’s inventions and then deciding whether or not the idea for the invention was feasible. If they were, Einstein would have to ensure that no one else had already been given a patent for the same idea.

Perhaps one of Einstein’s most notable patents was for the Einstein refrigerator. This idea was jointly invented in 1928 by Einstein and his former student, Leo Szilard. From 1926 until 1933, Einstein and his co-inventor joined forces to improve home refrigeration technology. Motivated by a broken refrigeration system that leaked toxic fumes and killed a family in Berlin, Einstein and Szilard wanted to create a different type of refrigeration cycle that would avoid this problem. While working on this invention, Einstein used his many years of experience in the Swiss Patent Office to apply for valid patents for their inventions in several other countries. Einstein and his partner were eventually granted 45 patents in their names for three different models of the invention.

Michael Jackson The year was 1988 and Michael Jackson was wowing fans with his anti-gravity dance moves in his music video for “Smooth Criminal.” Fans were in awe of the fact that the dancers were able to defy gravity and lean forward at a 45-degree angle to the floor.  During the music video, the dancers were able to do the move with the help of strings; however, Jackson wanted to take this move on the road. So he, and two other inventors, put their heads together, and the final product was the Anti-Gravity Shoe. In 1993, Jackson received a patent for his idea for the invention of the anti-gravity shoe, which would create an anti-gravity illusion. The invention would allow the person wearing the shoe to lean forward beyond his or her center of gravity by way of a specially-designed heel slot, which was detachably-engaged with what was usually a nail or post in the stage by simply sliding the shoe wearer’s foot forward and engaging with the post. The point of Michael Jackson’s patent was not for potential sale of his idea; it was, in fact, so that no one could perform the same move in the same way until the patent expired.

Jamie Lee Curtis– Aside from being a successful actress, Jamie Lee Curtis was also busy creating an idea for a diaper invention. In 1987, Curtis became an inventor when she had an idea for a diaper that was equipped with a waterproof compartment that held baby wipes. This invention would allow moms to have all the necessary components of changing their babies in one area. In 1988, Curtis was issued patent #4,753,647 for her invention of a disposable infant garment. However, her idea was never produced, due to the fact that she refused for it to be marketed until companies started making biodegradable diapers. The patent for this diaper invention expired in 2007.

Whether it was Albert Einstein working in the Swiss Patent Office, Michael Jackson filing a patent for his famous dance move, or Jamie Lee Curtis patenting her idea for an infant garment, the common thread between all three of these famous inventors is that they all took the necessary steps to reserve their idea by filing a patent.

Copyright Davison 2013




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A Deeper Look at 3 Chance Inventions

Inventions can sometimes be methodically planned and inventors cover every base and leave no stone unturned in order to bring their ideas to fruition. However, sometimes the most popular and well-known inventions weren’t intentional. In fact, they were invented through a sort of “ah-ha” moment.

Back in March of this year, we wrote a blog about products that were accidentally invented, so this time around, we wanted to take a deeper look at these inventions and more!

Common inventions like potato chips, Post-its and Silly Putty were accidentally invented, and these accidents have literally satisfied our appetites and figuratively satiated our hunger for creativity.

Potato Chips- They can be kettle cooked, baked or ruffled and their flavors can range from sour cream and onion to salt and vinegar. Potato chips come in all shapes, sizes and flavors, but before 1853, they did not exist.

The fried potato was first introduced in the United States in the late 18th century by Thomas Jefferson after he came across the treat in Paris but the actual French fry is an American invention.

The potato chip was invented in 1853 by Native American, George Crum, who at the time was a chef at a Saratoga Springs, New York resort. It is rumored that a customer by the name of Cornelius Vanderbilt complained that his French fries were too thick. That’s when Crum had an idea to fry up a serving of thin potatoes and cook them until they had a crunchy and crisp texture. The dish was then dubbed, “Saratoga Chips” and quickly became a favorite. The idea of the “Saratoga Chips” is better known today as the potato chip.

The potato chip, however, was not an immediate success until the 1920s. In 1926, Mrs. Scudder began producing large quantities of potato chips that were packaged in wax paper bags. By 1938, Herman Lay began producing Lay’s potato chips and became the first successfully marketed national brand.

Now, Wise, Herr’s, UTZ and Ruffles are just a few of the many potato chip brands being sold around the United States today.

Post-its- The Post-it note was accidentally invented when Art Fry was in desperate need of a bookmark for his church hymnal that would stay in place and wouldn’t damage the book. After noticing that one of his coworkers at 3M, Dr. Spencer Silver, had already invented an adhesive in 1968 that was strong enough to easily stick to a surface without leaving a residue when repositioned, Fry decided to apply some of the adhesive along the edge of a piece of paper. The problem of finding a bookmark that stayed in place and didn’t ruin the hymnal was solved.

From this point on, Fry realized that his new “bookmark” had multi-functionality and could serve as a form of communication around the office when these “bookmarks” were used for notes on work files among other things.

After the 3M Corporation named this invention “Post-it”, production began in the late 1970s for commercial use.

Nowadays, this accidental invention has become a staple of offices, schools and homes alike, allowing people to leave notes for others or reminders for certain tasks. The Post-it brand now has more than 4,000 unique products that are sold around the world.

Silly Putty- In 1943, with the threat of a rubber shortage looming in the United States, GE engineer, James Wright, was working to invent a synthetic rubber. While combining boric acid and silicone oil, Wright accidentally invented the rubbery material, Silly Putty. With its ability to rebound almost 25 percent higher than a normal rubber ball, this “Nutty Putty” as it was originally called was soft, malleable and able to stretch without tearing.

Although it didn’t meet the criteria needed to replace rubber, Wright realized that this substance would serve another purpose; to entertain.

While at a cocktail party in 1949, Peter Hodgson, the owner of an ad agency in New Haven, Connecticut, spotted the rubbery putty being circulated among the guests. He began to observe people folding, stretching and bouncing the odd material. The ball of goo finally made its way to toy store owner, Ruth Fallgatter, who regularly produced catalogs full of toys. Hodgson approached Fallgatter and convinced her to put this putty in plastic cases and sell them in the catalog for $2 each. The putty outsold everything else that was listed other than a set of 50-cent Crayola crayons.

After a full year of sales, Fallgatter decided to stop selling the putty and Hodgson took over. He gathered a group of Yale students and had them separate the putty into one ounce balls and placed them into individual red plastic eggs. This is the same packaging that we see today.

In 1950, he took his product to the International Toy Fair in New York. A writer caught wind of this new invention and wrote an article in the “Talk of the Town” and sales for Silly Putty began to pour in.

At the time of Hodgson’s death in 1976, Silly Putty was being sold throughout the U.S. and in 22 other countries with annual sales exceeding $5 million.

To this day, this accidental invention of Silly Putty continues to entertain both adults and children around the world.

Whether you are eating the crunchy invention of potato chips, leaving a reminder on a Post-it note for a coworker or stretching out a ball of Silly Putty, one thing is certain is that these accidental inventions have captivated people all over the world.

Copyright Davison 2013






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The Invention of Convenience: The Microwave

School is back in session and college students everywhere are heading back to campus. Home cooked meals are a thing of the past and students rely on a certain invention to quickly heat up their meals. More times than not, they will reach for a quick cup of noodles, but in order for this staple food of college diets to heat up, a microwave is needed.

So where did the idea for this invention that college students rely so heavily on come from?

The microwave oven, or as we know it, the microwave, was accidentally invented in 1945 by inventor, Percy Spencer. Spencer was conducting an experiment with a new vacuum tube called a magnetron while conducting research for the Raytheon Corporation.

The magnetron was invented during World War II at Manchester University in Manchester, England.  It produced microwaves with high frequency and power that was invaluable in directing allied aircraft in their quest to intercept German Luftwaffe raiders during the Battle of Britain.

The magnetron was given to Raytheon in the United States for further development and it was during this testing when Spencer discovered its potential.

The curiosity started when a candy bar began to melt in Spencer’s pocket during an experiment with the magnetron, after this, he became intrigued. So he tried another experiment with popcorn. When the kernels began to pop, Spencer realized the potential of this revolutionary process.

In 1947, the Raytheon Corporation built the first microwave oven, the Radarange, which surprisingly enough, weighed in at 750 pounds, was 5 ½ feet tall and had a hefty price tag of $5,000.

After countless experiments and improvements of the invention, Raytheon licensed its technology to the Tappan Stove Company.

On October 25, 1955, the first domestic microwave was sold by the Tappan Stove Company. At the time, this large, 220 volt wall unit gave families the opportunity to buy the invention for $1,295.

So, how does the invention of the microwave actually work?

First, the microwave utilizes a magnetron that has been used since the time the invention was first discovered. The magnetron is very similar to a radio transmitter in that it makes very short radio waves that enter right into the food to a depth of about 2.5cm. These waves make the water molecules swing back and forth at a rate of about 2.5 billion times a second.  This engagement heats up the molecules around it and as they warm up, the heat makes its way inside of the food. This process that was previously explained is known as conduction. This same process takes place in a normal oven; however, the energy inside of the microwave goes deeper so that the food cooks at a much faster rate. In an ordinary oven, the energy remains mostly near the surface.

This invention could be one of the most important inventions of the 20th century and now hundreds of millions of homes and dorms worldwide are equipped with this useful appliance.

Because of an accidental mishap resulting in the melting of a Mr. Goodbar candy bar in the pocket of Percy Spencer, this amazing invention was born and is now estimated to be in more than 90% of American homes.

Copyright Davison 2013







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This Inventor’s “Wheel” Was Turning

You’ve seen them at local fairs and amusement parks and the largest in the world is set to be built by New Year’s Eve, 2015. At 688 feet, the Dubai Eye will be the largest Ferris wheel in the world.

As summer winds down, there is still plenty of time for families to enjoy themselves at local amusement parks and fairs, and more times than not, the Ferris wheel is the most popular attraction.

Inventor, George Washington Gale Ferris Jr., was a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and was a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania bridge-builder.

Ferris understood the growing need for structural steel and founded G.W.G Ferris & Co. in Pittsburgh; this firm tested and inspected metals that were used for railroads and bridge builders.

Ferris was an ambitious inventor and had an idea to invent a structure that rivaled the unveiling of the Eiffel Tower, at the Paris Exhibition of 1889.

He began drafting plans for an “observation wheel,” which he had hoped would appear at the World’s Columbian Exhibition in 1893.

The Observation Wheel also was referred to as the Chicago Wheel and stood at 264 feet and was the largest attraction at the World’s Columbian Exposition, where it was opened to the public on June 21, 1893.

The wheel rotated around an 89,320-pound axle that was manufactured by the Bethlehem Steel Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The structure could accommodate 2,160 passengers at one time.

In order to turn the giant wheel, Ferris created a power plant with two, 1,000-horsepower reversible engines. One was the primary power and the other acted as an emergency backup. Both were connected to a 20,000-pound sprocket chain that turned the wheel.

Although Ferris can be credited with inventing the Ferris wheel, he did not, however, invent the concept of the wheel.  In fact, the vertical passenger-carrying wheels had been around for more than 200 years.

William Somers received the first U.S. patent for the “Roundabout” in 1893, of which he created three wooden, fifty-foot wheels in 1892 at Asbury Park and Atlantic City, N.J. and Coney Island, N.Y.

Ferris, however, was the first person to build one in steel and on such a massive scale. This feat set the example for amusement park designers. Unfortunately, he found that he was the target of an array of patent infringement lawsuits. Ferris managed to ward them off, but he died a few years later in 1896 at the age of 37.

Although Ferris died at a young age, this inventor’s idea to outshine the unveiling of the Eiffel Tower has endured and has become a favorite at local fairs and amusement parks around the world.

Copyright Davison 2013







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