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PENNSYLVANIA INVENTIONS

Bubble Gum
Walter E. Diemer was an accountant for the Fleer Chewing Gum Company who enjoyed experimenting in his spare time. In 1928, while attempting to find a new rubber product, he accidentally invented Bubble Gum. He was only 23 years old!  Bubble gum is pink because that is the food coloring that just happened to be there when he was working.

Bifocals
In 1784, Ben Franklin invented bifocals. Ben had poor vision and changing glasses constantly to see far or to read was annoying. So, he cut two pair of glasses in half and put half of each in one frame. This was a great time saver for him. After all, one of his famous sayings is “But dost thou love Life, then do not squander Time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.”

Slinky
This amazing toy was invented in 1943 by Richard James. He got the idea for it while working on a spring that would keep a ship’s instruments steady. At first, it was made near Philadelphia but soon moved to Hollidaysburg, PA where it continues to be manufactured today.

Lightning Rod
Ben Franklin was the inventor of this simple device, which protected houses, barns, and ships from destruction by guiding the lightning through a metal rod into the ground.

Pencil with Eraser
Hyman L. Lipman of Philadelphia gets credit for inventing the pencil with an attached eraser in 1858.

Crayola Crayons
Edward Binney and Harold Smith shared a long history of color related improvements to products before they improved industrial marking crayons for use by school children. The first box of eight Crayola Crayons came on the market in 1903.

Glass Armonica
As an accomplished musician, Ben Franklin was able to play several instruments.  Among them were the violin, guitar and the harp. His understanding of music helped him to invent the Glass Armonica. Touching the edge of the spinning glass with dampened fingers creates the prolonged tones of this instrument. 

Soda Pop
Townsend Speakman was working as a druggist in Philadelphia in 1807. While many people liked drinking Priestly’s carbonated water because of the healthy benefits it claimed, most people did not like the taste. So, Speakman added a few ingredients like fruit flavors to make the drink tasty. The first soda was the Nephite Julep.

Big Mac
The Big Mac became part of MacDonald’s menu in 1968. It was the creation of Jim Delligatti who operated a dozen stores in Pittsburgh in the late 1960s.

TV Guide
TV guide was produced and distributed in Philadelphia.  On April 3, 1953, it went nationwide with release in 10 major cities. The cover of that issue featured Lucille Ball’s baby Desiderio Alberto Arnaz IV who later played little Ricky on the I Love Lucy Show. This year, 2003, TV Guide celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Pennsylvania Rifle
Early settlers in Pennsylvania depended on their rifles for survival, hunting for food and protecting their families. The weapons they brought with them were not well suited to the wilderness. Early gunsmiths tried combining the long, light gun used by the English with the heavy, short gun used by the Germans. Eventually the gunsmiths of Lancaster County developed the unique weapon we know as the Pennsylvania rifle. It was light in weight, used little powder and lead, but most importantly was deadly accurate when used by an experienced rifleman. A typical Pennsylvania rifle weighed seven to nine pounds and was fifty-five inches from muzzle to butt plate. It was accurate to 300 yards. The Pennsylvania rifle became known as the Kentucky rifle at a later time.

Hires Root Beer
Hire’s Root Beer has been produced for over 120 years, which makes it the “oldest continually marketed soft drink in the United States.” It all began when Philadelphia pharmacist Charles E. Hires made a product called Hires’ Herb Tea.  After experimenting with the recipe, he found that the sassafras in the mixture would make a good root beer. Hires first sold his product at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in packets. A liquid version came onto the market in 1880 and was very popular during Prohibition.

Revolving Doors
Theophilus van Kannel, a Philadelphia native, patented the first revolving door on August 7, 1886. The home of the first revolving door was the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia. Van Kannel was awarded with the John C. Scott Legacy Medal, a humanitarian award, because the revolving door saved many people lives by stopping cold drafts from entering building lobbies.

The Ferris Wheel
The Ferris wheel was one of the most incredible feats of engineering of the nineteenth century. George Ferris built it for the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 to be held in Chicago. This structure was meant to rival the Eiffel Tower, which was built four years earlier. The original structure weighed 2,079,884 pounds. It eventually was dismantled and moved to St Louis for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904. Unfortunately, the original Ferris wheel was destroyed in 1906, after no one took ownership of it.

 



 

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