The Untold Truth Of Grape-Nuts


I like Grape- Nuts.

Grape-Nuts was one of the first cereals that Americans began to stock in their kitchen shelves. Introduced as a medicine food in 1897, it made it through the Great Depression of the 1930s, two World Wars, and the Covid’19 pandemic that saw a halt in its production for a while (via New York Historical Society). The pandemic unveiled the many true fans of the cereal who were ready to pay more than thrice the amount to bring home a little box of the tasty nuggets.

To understand how Grape-Nuts became a breakfast constant is to understand the history of cereal itself. It all started with the invention of Granula — a cold cereal made with Graham flour — by doctor James Caleb Jackson in 1863 (via Smithsonian Magazine). Jackson never earned any success with Granula, but he paved the way for food innovators, such as CW Post, to create their own kind of cereal.

Post created Grape-Nuts in a small factory in Battle Creek, Michigan and saw a huge success. It was “an accomplishment that inspired dozens of imitators and turned Battle Creek into the cereal-making capital of the United States.” In less than five years, there were around 100 cereal manufacturers in Battle Creek alone.

The cereal gave Americans a taste of a meat-less, caffeine-free, cold and convenient breakfast. Here’s how the crumbly and malty cereal has sustained itself for over 120 years.

Kellogg’s had a role to play in the invention of Grape-Nuts
Bloomberg/Getty Images
CW Post had a busy life even before Grape-Nuts. Though a University of Illinois drop-out, Post was always an innovator at heart. He held patents for farm equipment, including “cultivators, a sulky plow, a harrow, and a haystack.” Unfortunately, Post didn’t handle stress well. He had a nervous breakdown twice, before he sought treatment in one of the most popular health spas of the world then, Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan. This sanitarium was run by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg — the same Kellogg who gave the world cornflakes.

Kellogg and his brother WK Kellogg were into experimenting with dishes that would best maintain the gut health of the patients who were admitted in the sanitarium. During his stay there, Post was served and exposed to the making of Kellogg’s invention, Granola — a mixture of corn meal and oats. Kellogg, a deeply religious Seventh-day Adventist, believed that eating something bland and easily digestible was the cure to many forms of illnesses. He also believed in a diet sans alcohol, coffee or meat. Looks like people took to his methods, for among his clients were personalities like as Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.

Post wanted to sell the cereal he was served in the sanitarium to people in the outside world Having learnt the ways from the Kellogg brothers, he invented a cereal-based drink called Postum as an alternative to coffee. Grape-Nuts cereal was his second product. (via History)

Grape-Nuts contains no grapes or nuts

The name Grape-Nuts can be quite misleading. The cereal doesn’t contain a single grape or nut; it’s made with only wheat and barley. Originally, according to Grape-Nuts’ official website, the ingredients were mixed and poured into a sheet, and baked in the oven. Once hard, it was broken into large chunks, and then into smaller “nut-sized nuggets” using a coffee grinder.

These nuggets, to Post, looked like grape seeds — hence the name, says one theory. Another says he named the product so because of a certain nutty flavor that it left in the mouth. The word grape came from “grape sugar,” which is what Post called glucose. He believed that when the batter containing the carb-heavy mix was baked, it produced glucose.

Grape-Nuts was first introduced as an alternative to morning coffee. As the story goes, when he was recuperating from a nervous breakdown in Battle Creek Sanitarium, he particularly liked a cereal-based caramel drink that was served there.  However, Post could not get the permission from Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, the man who ran the show at the sanitarium, to sell the beverage. So, with the help of a Swiss chemist, he designed a beverage called Postum instead. Grape-Nuts was also at first introduced it as an alternative to morning coffee, but it only found success when he changed the advertising words to call itself “cold breakfast food”.

Grape-Nuts was first introduced as a health product
CW Post advertised Grape-Nuts as a “food for brain and nerve centers,” — even claiming that it could cure appendicitis and keep the body temperature in control!

According to a booklet published by Postum Company in 1906, “anyone with weak intestinal digestion, liver and bowel troubles can correct them without drugs, by leaving off the bread, cakes, mushy cereals, potatoes, and all forms of starchy food, and using Grape-Nuts.” Post claimed that Grape-Nuts was a “pre-digested” food, claiming that the wheat and barley mix is processed in such a way that it converts starch to sugar outside of the stomach, leaving little work for the digestive system. He further claimed that it was absorbed well by the body, and “has double the energy producing power of any other food on earth,” the book claimed.

Post relied heavily on showcasing Grape-Nuts as a healing food, and posted several ads to convey the point. All these were let pass until 1911, when a certain publication expressed its concerns about these claims. Collier’s Weekly “published an editorial stating (quite correctly) that the implication that Grape-Nuts could ward off appendicitis was not only false, but potentially deadly” (via Scalar). In response, Post started a campaign defaming the publication.

The case went to court, and it came to be known that Post had solicited all the testimonials from customers claiming Grape-Nuts had healed them. The legal saga ended with Post handing over $50,000 to the publication.

Grape-Nuts was the first to introduce grocery coupons in 1909
CW Post knew how to sell his product. He was the one of the first to sell packaged cereal in boxes and spent about one million dollars a year on advertisements, even back in 1906. When Grape-Nuts hit the market, the concept of cold breakfast food was something that Americans were only warming up to. Post went the extra mile to spread the word through recipe contests and coupons. He was also the first to introduce coupons in grocery shopping, giving away one-cent coupons that customers could redeem on their purchase of a Grape-Nuts box.

Only one other company had experimented with the this novel idea before Post did: Coca-Cola. The black syrup that was introduced by John Pemberton in a pharmacy in 1886 saw scanty sales until Asa Candler, a druggist, started giving free vouchers for the drink through magazines and newspapers (via Coupons). Like Candler, Post also succeeded in making his product popular with the masses by giving them the opportunity to save on their purchases.

After Post started giving away coupons in 1909, the concept became popular in the United States, especially during and post the Great Depression in the 1930s. Today, shoppers save 10% to 20% on grocery shopping with just the coupons (now also available digitally), according to Chicago Tribune – all thanks to Post’s one-cent idea.

The plant where Grape-Nuts was first manufactured is still functional
Grape-Nuts had its beginnings in a small white barn in Battle Creek, Michigan. CW Post started using the space for developing Postum and Grape-Nuts in 1895; slowly, several new buildings mushroomed around it to handle the capacity of food production. Today, the plant includes 40 buildings that span “over 65 acres with a nearly 2 million-square-foot facility,” according to Ty Hakman, manager at the Battle Creek plant (via WBCK). The plant manufactures Post Consumer Brands’ products including Grape-Nuts, Honey Bunches of Oats and Fruity Pebbles, among others.

The Battle Creek plant of Postum Cereal Company was the largest in the world in the early 1900s, “with 2,500 employees and a net worth of $5 million,” Encyclopedia reports. Today, it employs 600 people, some of whom were third and fourth-generation employees, Hakman told WBCK.

Though the Battle Creek Plant has been functioning for 125 years, at one point, Grape-Nuts was only being manufactured at a plant in Modesta, California. Wall Street Journal reported that “In 2005, four Grape-Nuts ovens in Battle Creek were scrapped, leaving just the one here in California.” The Modesto plant had to be shut down in 2013 because of a decrease in cereal demand. But the pandemic seems to have perked up the cereal industry. “We put out, this year alone, over 280 million pounds of product,” Hakman told WBCK.

Grape-Nuts also inspired its own ice cream flavor
Grape-Nuts ice cream has for years kept its place as a sought-after dessert in New England, most especially in Maine, according to Eater. The recipe for this cereal-rich ice cream is over a century old. Some say that it was a certain chef named Hannah Young in Nova Scotia, Canada, who invented it in 1919 (Young used Grape-Nuts cereal as an alternative to fresh fruits in her ice cream and realized that it makes for a tasty dessert). However, there are mentions of the recipe in publications that pre-date Young’s claim, according to author and food historian Sarah Wassberg Johnson.

For example, The American Housekeeper Advertiser published a recipe for Grape-Nuts ice cream in its 1909 issue, and so did Good Things to Eat from Wellville, which was published in 1916. The ice cream can be made in two ways: The longer method requires heating Grape-Nuts cereal with cream and sugar and adding almond and vanilla extract to the mix when it’s cool, followed by freezing it until it reaches the consistency of an ice cream. The shorter method includes mixing vanilla ice cream with the desired amount of Grape-Nuts into it. Either way, a little bit of crunch can elevate your simply vanilla.

The parent company of Grape-Nuts was renamed General Foods in 1929
CW Post’s breakfast food innovations were a huge success, including both Grape-Nuts or Post Toasties (a brand of corn flakes). After establishing Postum Cereal Company, Post moved from Michigan to Texas with the dream of starting a farming community. While there he explored different ways of dry-land farming, and experimented with making rain through dynamite explosions. Meanwhile, Postum Cereal Company reaped profits. By 1900, Post was netting $3 million a year. But the success wasn’t enough to keep him in the pink of health — he is believed to have died because of a self-inflicted gunshot in 1914. (via Texas State Historical Association)

After Post’s death, the company went to his daughter Marjorie Merriweather Post, who, along with her husband and company chairman Edward F Hutton, began a series of acquisitions that included Jell-O, Swans Down cake flour, Minute Tapioca, Baker’s Chocolate, Log Cabin syrup, and Maxwell House Coffee (via Encyclopedia).

Postum Cereal company eventually became General Foods in 1929, after it acquired Clarence Birdseye’s General Foods Company. Birdseye is said to have revolutionized the modern frozen industry, and Post and her husband brought him in as the head of the General Foods Laboratory. From 1929 onwards, Grape-Nuts was a product manufactured by General Foods. After Philip Morris Companies acquired General Foods in 1985, the corporate leadership manning the production of Grape-Nuts changed several hands before finally taking form as Post Consumer Brands.

Grape-Nuts was an important food item for American soldiers in World War II
Grape-Nuts kept US soldiers from starving during World War II, according to company lore. According to Grape-Nuts’ official website, the cereal was part of the jungle ration provided to the soldiers who were stationed in tropical countries. Back then, cereal was a more functional food — and taste mattered little. In fact, Grape-Nuts was not coated with sugar until the 1940s, and it was a mix of baked and ground wheat and barley that claimed to go easy on your digestive tract. The fact that it didn’t have to be cooked was a bonus. But what made the cereal synonymous with breakfast was a certain ad campaign by General Foods (which manufactured Grape-Nuts then) in 1944.

As part of the campaign, the company channeled money and time into conveying to the masses that “nutrition experts say breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” (via The Atlantic). While studies have shown little to validate the statement, the brands did succeed in convincing customers that cereal is the best way to start their day. Soon the government nutritionists were also sold to the idea, and “in the interest of improving the health of army recruits, they teamed up with cereal companies to suggest that everyone eat a “good breakfast of whole-grain cereal and fruit.”

Grape-Nuts was the first cereal to reach the top of Mount Everest
New Zealand explorer Edmund Hillary and Nepali-Indian Sherpa explorer Tenzing Norgay ventured on the 29,000 feet climb to the peak of Mount Everest with Grape-Nuts cereal in their backpack. Post Grape-Nuts cashed in on this little trivia by launching a campaign called “What’s your Mountain?” in 2013. As part of the promotion, the brand introduced a new variety of Grape-Nuts cereal called Grape-Nuts Fit, which came with the addition of cranberries, granola, puffed barley, among other ingredients. The company also collaborated with “tower racers,” or athletes who race up the stairs of skyscrapers (via Consumer Goods).

Besides conquering the tallest mountain in the world, Grape-Nuts was also the favored snack in expeditions to the North and South Pole. In 1913, Donald B. Macmillan had taken Grape-Nuts cereal to munch on during his two-year expedition to Crocker Island in the Arctic. Later, in 1933, Grape-Nuts sponsored the expedition of Sir Admiral Byrd to Antarctica. While this was a boost to Post Company’s marketing, it also served as a big moment for science because it enabled the first “long two-way radio transmission” (via Grape-Nuts’ website). Almost 80 years later, Grape-Nuts sponsored another trip to Antarctica — that of two-time cancer survivor, author and motivational speaker Sean Swarner.

The Andy Griffith show exists because of Grape-Nuts
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Back in the 1950s, General Foods, which owned Grape-Nuts then, used to sponsor a show called The Danny Thomas Show. But they disassociated themselves with the show as it “depicted a discordant, urban family life” that did not do well with the brand’s “wholesome family image” (via Grape-Nuts’ official website). A certain character in the show, Sheriff Andy Taylor, featured as someone who held justice in the highest regard and was loved by all in the fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina, became so popular that he warranted his own series. Thus was launched The Andy Griffith Show that ran for eight years but continued to air on television for over 50 years. (via The Atlantic)

Since General Foods sponsored the show, commercials promoting its product Grape-Nuts cereal were infused during the breaks, and they starred Sheriff Andy Taylor and Deputy Barney Fife — the two main characters of the series, who promoted the tagline “A Grape-Nuts breakfast fills you up, not out”.

In the decades that followed, Grape-Nuts’ promotional campaign took a different form. The brand roped in Euell Gibbons, who is considered the father of modern foraging, to be part of Grape-Nuts’ Back to Nature campaign. Little did Gibbons know that his line for the ad, “Ever eat a pine tree? Many parts are edible” would be discussed even decades after he used it.

A Grape-Nuts booklet inspired the movie The Road to Wellville
The Road to Wellville was a thin insert inside the Grape-Nuts boxes in the early 1900s, until it inspired TC Boyle to write a novel of the same name. Boyle’s novel, however, has no mention of CW Post or Grape-Nuts. What it focuses on, instead, is John Harvey Kellogg and his Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan, where Post was treated in the late 1800s. The novel was adapted into a movie directed by Alan Parker and starred big names such as Anthony Hopkins, John Cusack, and Bridget Fonda (via Battle Creek Enquirer).

The movie, which is a satiric take on the personality of Kellogg (who invented peanut butter and meat substitutes, besides granola) and his uncommon methods of treatments at Battle Creek sanitarium, disappointed the Battle Creek localities. They took pride in the fact that their community once welcomed the who’s who of the world to a wellness spa that was considered one of the best in the country in its heydey; but the movie, filled with sexual content and jokes, had little to do with the facts.

There was a shortage of Grape-Nuts during the pandemic
When the pandemic struck in 2020, the demand for cereals saw an uptick, given many people had little choice but to stay home. Post Consumer Brands, the company that manufactures Grape-Nuts, found it challenging to meet this sudden spike in demand, and the production had to be stopped due to supply chain constraints.  “Grape-Nuts is made using a proprietary technology and a production process that isn’t easily replicated, which has made it more difficult to shift production to meet demand during this time,” Kristin DeRock, Grape-Nuts brand manager at Post Consumer Brands, told TODAY.

Grape-Nuts fans felt the panic when they couldn’t access their box of cereal, which is usually a staple in the supermarkets. Customers, including producer David Heyman, took to social media to express their concern about the sudden Grape-Nuts cereal shortage. “I am among those suffering from the great #grapenuts shortage. May their return bring a little comfort in troubled times,” tweeted Heyman. With limited boxes in circulation, the price of a 29 ounce box, originally $4.99, became three times more. “On, a 64 ounce box was listed for $110,” The New York Times reported.

Grape-Nuts boxes are all stocked up in supermarkets now, but the brand hasn’t forgotten their loyalists. To all those who shelled out more than $10 a box, Post Consumer Brands announced that they will reimburse them upto $115 upon receiving the receipt of purchase.

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Marine Killed In Action During World War II Laid To Rest In Kansas

H/T War History OnLine.

R.I.P. Private First Class Glenn Franklin White.

A Marine who lost his life fighting the Japanese in the Tarawa Atoll has been laid to rest in his hometown of Emporia, Kansas. Private First Class Glenn Franklin White’s remains were located on the island of Betio in 2019 and accounted for by the Defense POW/MIA Account Agency (DPAA) on June 7, 2021.

Two Marines carry another Marine over a wooden fence
Marines during the Battle of Tarawa Atoll, November 1943. (Photo Credit: National Museum of Health and Medicine / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0)

White’s remains arrived at the Kansas City International Airport on September 17, 2021 and escorted to Roberts-Blue-Barnett Funeral Home in Emporia. The next day, his casket was escorted to Memorial Lawn Cemetery by the Patriot Guard, Lyon County deputies and officers from the Emporia Police Department.

He was repatriated next to his family with full Military Honors. A “Missing Man” fly-by was provided by the United States Marine Corps.

White was just 18 years old when he enlisted in the Marine Corps in the winter of 1942. He was in high school at the time and dropped out to enlist, traveling to a recruiting center in Kansas City, Missouri on February 10, 1942.

After completing training in San Diego, California, he was assigned to the Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force as an automatic rifleman.

Military portrait of Pfc. Glenn F. White
Pfc. Glenn F. White. (Photo Credit: DPAA)

In November 1943, he and his unit were sent to the Gilbert Islands, where they were tasked with securing the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll. The Marines were met with heavy Japanese resistance. On November 22, 1943, White’s squad pushed ahead of Alpha’s main line of resistance to provide a screening force. They came under fire, and the young Marine was mortally wounded.

Despite his injuries, he continued to man his weapon, allowing those behind him to engage in the firefight. While the US forces were able to secure the island, 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed in the engagement and another 2,000 were injured. The Japanese were virtually annihilated.

White was reported to have been buried in Row D of the East Division Cemetery, now known as Cemetery 33. For his efforts, he was posthumously awarded the Silver Star Medal in June 1944. It is the US Armed Force’s third-highest honor for valor during combat and is awarded to those who show gallantry in action against enemy forces.

Marines standing behind a log wall
US Marines during the Battle of Tarawa Atoll, November 1943. (Photo Credit: Education Images / Getty Images)

In 1946, the 604th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company centralized all of the American remains found on the Tarawa Atoll at Lone Palm Cemetery for repatriation. Unfortunately, due to construction errors on Betio Island, over half of known casualties were never located, including White. As such, a Board of Review declared him “non-recoverable” in October 1949.

In 2009, a non-profit organization called History Flight Inc. began work to recover and identify those buried in the lost cemeteries of Betio Island. A decade later, in March 2019, several remains were found in Row D of Cemetery 33 and subsequently identified as Marines from the Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force.

The remains were transferred to the DPAA laboratory at the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii. White’s remains were among them. To obtain a positive identification, scientists with the DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence. As well, scientists with the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used Y chromosome DNA (Y-STR) and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.

Front lawn of the National Cemetery of the Pacific
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. (Photo Credit: Gerald Watanabe / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0)

White was officially accounted for on June 7, 2021. His name was recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, along with other missing military members from World War II. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has since been accounted for.

A Marine Pilot Used His Propeller To Down An Enemy Plane, Here’s How It Happened

H/T War History OnLine.

R.I.P. Colonel Robert Klingman.

On May 10, 1945, two U.S. Marine pilots were on a combat air patrol when they came across a lone Kawasaki Ki-45. Realizing there was no other way to take the Ki-45 down, the Marine decided to use his propeller to destroy the enemy plane – understanding the risk that this posed to his own aircraft. This is the story of how Robert Klingman used his propeller to bring down a Japanese airplane and lived to tell the tale.

Who is Robert Klingman?

Robert Klingman
Image of Robert “Bob” Klingman. (Photo Credit: United States Marines Corps)

Robert Klingman was born on January 12, 1917, in Binger, Oklahoma. Robert was one of nine children in the Klingman family, and when the Great Depression hit, the Klingman’s needed some relief. The family decided to send Robert to the Civilian Military Training program in Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

The Civilian Military Training program took young men to Army camps for a month to introduce them to military life. This allowed parents to get some sort of relief during the Great Depression, as they would not have to worry about feeding their sons for the summer months. This training program also gave young men a chance to experience different army drills, barrack life, and introduced them to common military weapons.

After being introduced to military life through the Civilian Military Training program, Robert Klingman decided to give the Marine’s a try. In 1934, after finishing high school, he entered the Marine Corps. He spent four years with the Marines and went on to be qualified with the Browning automatic rifle (also known as the BAR), which was the best light machine gun in the American arsenal.

Robert Klingman and his sister
Robert Klingman poses with his twin sister at Corpus Christi, Florida, after pilot training. (Photo Credit: United States Marine Corps)

When Robert returned home four years later, he decided to open up a diner known as “Bob’s Cafe.” Although he had served in the Marines and now had a successful business, Robert found that he was growing bored of the mundaneness of his day-to-day life. Sensing Robert’s growing irritation, his brother suggested returning to service but this time with the Navy.

When Robert joined the Navy, he was assigned to the USS Tennessee and sent to San Diego for further training. Robert arrived in California on December 7, 1941, and by the end of the day, Robert had lost many shipmates and all of his personal belongings still aboard the USS Tennessee.

Robert wrapped up training in carrier operations by September 1942, which meant that he was qualified for preflight school. The Navy discharged him as an enlisted man and he became an aviation cadet. At this point, Robert had been out of the classroom for seven years and was the oldest cadet in his program, going up against students fresh out of college. Nonetheless, he pushed himself and graduated in the top 10% of his class. After graduation, Robert was sent off to pilot training, and eventually, he was forced to choose between the Navy and the Marine Corps. For Robert, this choice was a no-brainer, and he decided to go with the Marine Corps.

Pacific Theatre

Robert Klingman
Robert Klingman. (Photo Credit: United States Marine Corps)

After deciding on the Marines, Robert was sent to Okinawa, where Japanese kamikaze squadrons were destroying American ships. The Japanese used photoreconnaissance, in which Japanese reconnaissance planes would make two full passes of an island or fleet before flying home. These reconnaissance planes would take photos of American ships and then assign kamikaze pilots to destroy these individual American ships.

The Japanese used Kawaski Ki-45, or “Nick” aircraft, to carry out their photoreconnaissance. These Japanese planes could fly higher than any American planes, meaning that any American interception of the reconnaissance missions was extremely difficult for the Americans.

The events of May 10, 1945

Reimagined drawing of Robert Klingman's airplane
Drawing of Robert Klingman’s propeller hitting the Japanese “Nick” (Photo Credit: United Staes Marine Corps)

The Marines hatched a plan for the next “Nick” recon flight. On May 10, 1945, First Lieutenant Robert Klingman, Captain Jim Cox, and Second Lieutenant Frank Watson followed Marine Captain Ken Reusser 13,000 feet into the air to prepare to intercept the Nick reconnaissance planes. To put this in perspective, the F4u Corsairs that these men were plotting typically only operated at about 10,000 feet.

At Captain Reusser’s command, the planes dropped their belly tanks which contained reserve fuel, to climb towards the lone Nick plane they had spotted, which was flying above 36,000 feet. The four planes reached 20,000 feet and began firing at the lone Japanese plane, without success.

It was at 20,000 feet in the air that Captain Jim Cox and Second Lieutenant Frank Watson’s planes started to experience engine trouble, so Reusser ordered them back to CAP over the fleet. The “Nick” was completing its second pass when Captain Reusser decided to take a shot at it out of desperation. This warned the Japanese pilot, and the Nick took off at full speed for home base.

All of a sudden, Klingman and Reusser were off as fast as their planes would go, trailing the Nick. Reusser’s Corsair was in range of the Nick first, and he quickly fired the rest of his ammunition at the Japanese plane, causing damage to the right side wing, and causing the right engine burst into flames.

Robert Klingman cleaning off his propeller
Robert Klingman cleaning what could be a piece of Japanese aircraft off of his propeller. (photo Credit: United States Marine Corps)

Reusser’s ammunition was now empty, so he made room for Robert to finish the job. However, as Robert lined up for the shot, he discovered that his guns had frozen over due to the high altitude. Robert had to think fast and be creative. With no other choice, he came up behind the Nick and sliced into the plane’s rudder with his Corsairs propeller.

As daring as this initial contact had been, it wasn’t enough to completely bring the Nick down. Robert hit the Nick with his propeller two more times, slicing into the plane’s tail and completely severing the rudder and the right stabilizer, causing the Japanese fighter to crash into the South Pacific Ocean. Robert was able to make a dead stick landing at Kadena Airfield and landed safely.

For their bravery, both Captain Ken Reusser and Robert Klingman were awarded the Navy Cross. Reusser would go on to be one of the most decorated Marine aviators in history while Klingman retired a Lieutenant Colonel. Robert Klingman passed away in 2004 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

The Stories Behind 20 Inventions That Changed the World

H/T Mental Floss.

Some amazing life changing inventions.

You might find it impossible to imagine a world without your smartphone, or have trouble remembering a time when Wi-Fi wasn’t everywhere, but many of today’s most relied-upon technologies would not have been possible—or even dreamed of—if it weren’t for the game-changing inventions that came before them. And while it’s easy to take many of the marvels of design and engineering we interact with on a daily basis for granted—think toilets, seat belts, and suspension bridges—it’s just as easy to overlook how a handful of more surprising inventions, like the Super Soaker or the pizza saver, have affected the world around us. From blood banks to barcodes and beyond, here are the stories behind 20 inventions that changed the world.



Suspension bridges are nothing new; there’s one in China that until recently used bamboo that’s at least 1000 years old, and may be over 2000. But the modern suspension bridges that came along in the 1800s were something else altogether: They were cheaper to build, easier to repair, and provided plenty of leeway in case of flooding. Eventually, the bridges allowed for passage over far larger bodies of water and could withstand violent storms and the ever-increasing weight of foot and vehicle traffic in cities (not to mention drastically cutting down travel times). In the middle of the 19th century, engineer John A. Roebling saw that the Allegheny Portage Railroad was using breakable hemp ropes, leading him to create a way to spin and manufacture wire rope, a technology Roebling would soon put toward suspension bridges. Eventually, the wire could be spun and anchored on site, which helped speed up the construction process.

Roebling’s innovations led to his designs for the Niagara River Gorge Bridge, the Sixth Street Bridge in Pittsburgh, and the famed Brooklyn Bridge in the second half of the 19th century. Though the Brooklyn Bridge was John Roebling’s basic design, his son, Washington, took over the project as chief engineer following his father’s death in 1869. Then, after Washington became mostly confined to his home following a battle with decompression sickness (or “the bends”), his wife, Emily, took on many of his responsibilities. During a time when women were kept far away from STEM fields, Emily learned about cable construction, stress analysis, and other principles of suspension bridge engineering, and was a key figure in the completion of the project.

Today, suspension bridges are located in all corners of the globe, allowing people to safely and easily travel across great chasms and bodies of water. And these bridges are no longer suspended only over simple rivers—Japan’s Akashi Kaikyo Bridge stretches 12,828 feet across the Akashi Strait and features a main span that is 6527 feet long.



Dry and flush toilets have been around for thousands of years, and while many of us take these pieces of porcelain hardware for granted these days, there’s no doubt that life would look much different—and much worse—without them. “Toilets are the key to a thriving, healthy society,” Kimberly Worsham, sanitation expert and founder of FLUSH (Facilitated Learning for Universal Sanitation and Hygiene), tells Mental Floss. Having a designated place to do your business cuts back on outbreaks of infectious diseases like cholera and typhoid—both rampant in urban areas before flush toilets (and indoor plumbing and sewers) were widely used. And in the case of dry toilets, the waste deposited there can be processed for agricultural use.

Typically, people date the modern flush toilet to John Harington, godson to Queen Elizabeth I, but there were flush toilets well before he got involved (one in Knossos, which dates back to the 16th century BCE, was even connected to a sewer). “Flush toilets like his had been available to Western Europe during the Roman Empire, but after Rome fell, Europe essentially resorted to sh***ing outside again,” Worsham says. “All of those systems fell into disrepair,” Worsham says. (Other areas of the world, like East Asia and areas of the Middle East, still used toilets even as Western Europe went backward.)

The options available at the time Harington was innovating were chamber pots, garderobes—which Worsham describes as “dreadful closets with holes in the ground”—or going to the bathroom outside. Harington wanted to bring the toilet back in and make going to the bathroom a more comfortable experience, but his invention left a lot to be desired: Instead of connecting to a sewer, it had a pipe that went straight down into a lower chamber that would eventually need to be emptied by some unlucky person. Even worse, its design meant that the toxic, flammable gases released when urine and poop decompose could come wafting back up, creating potentially deadly situations. It didn’t catch on; Harington built just a handful of models.

Then, in 1775, a Scottish watchmaker named Alexander Cumming developed the S-trap, a piece of plumbing that attaches to the back of the toilet. “This was revolutionary because it used water in the trap to keep the toxic gasses from getting back into the home and the poo and pee from easily sliding back into the toilet,” Worsham says. “Once Cumming patented his design, we had something like a flush toilet renaissance.” Tinkering with toilets commenced in earnest, with people like Thomas Crapper (who, according to Worsham, “created a killer marketing campaign for toilets”) getting involved. Once materials to make toilets became cheaper, they became more common, and the world got much safer. “We saw mortality rates decline,” Worsham says. “It also made our living spaces far less sh***y—literally.” Bodily waste deposited into flush toilets went into sewers or septic tanks, which meant it wasn’t on the street or in drinking water.

That said, there’s still a long way to go to make sure everyone has access to a toilet: According to Worsham, “1 in 4 people in the world lack access to basic toilets, and 1 in 2 lacks access to safely managed toilets—toilets where the waste is never put back into the environment untreated.” Without toilets, people are sicker and miss both work and school more often, which can lead to poverty traps and inequality. Thankfully, toilet tinkering hasn’t stopped: “There have been some really great projects by social enterprises and non-governmental organizations in different parts of the world working to build newer, better, more environmentally-friendly toilets,” Worsham says. “There’s also been some really neat innovation in integrating fecal waste from the toilets with organic waste—a.k.a. food scraps—and treating them to create great agricultural products like fertilizer and animal feed. We’re thinking circular economies here, and it’s exciting.”



Though many of today’s kids didn’t know what a Walkman was until they saw Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill flaunt one in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy, they pay unofficial homage to the device every time they play a song on their smartphone. Transistor radios had been around since the 1950s, but it was Sony co-founder Masaru Ibuka who really revolutionized the idea of playing whatever you want wherever you are (provided that you had the cassette tape on hand). For Ibuka, he really wanted something he could use to listen to music on flights. The Sony Walkman debuted in Japan in 1979 (and the U.S. in 1980) and quickly became the It Girl of the ’80s. The Walkman itself was compact, lightweight, and portable, and so were its headphones. As new devices debuted over the years—from Sony’s Discman to Apple’s iPod to smartphones and the Bluetooth headphones of today—the focus on those qualities never wavered.



By the end of the 19th century, bicycles were offering women a relatively cheap, easy form of independence. Their movements, and the clothing they wore, became less restricted. Decades later, a new item would hit the market and further revolutionize women’s rights: the Pill.

Hormonal birth control pills (often shortened to just the Pill) weren’t the first oral contraceptive; people had long relied on various concoctions, such as drinking mercury or toxic pennyroyal. By the early 20th century, a push for better contraceptives was rising in the U.S.—Margaret Sanger opened America’s first birth control clinic in 1916, for example, though it was raided and shut down. Work on a contraceptive pill didn’t begin until the 1950s. A biologist named Gregory Goodwin Pincus and a gynecologist named John Rock, with encouragement and funding from Sanger and wealthy philanthropist Katharine McCormick, teamed up to develop a “magic pill” that could prevent pregnancy. “I would argue that effective contraception was probably in the whole of the 20th century the most important change for women,” Linda Gordon, author of Woman’s Body, Woman’s Right: A Social History of Birth Control in Americatold Allure.

When the Pill first hit the market in 1957, it was only approved to help regulate menstruation [PDF]; even after the FDA approved the Pill for contraceptive use in 1960, it still wasn’t readily available. In some U.S. states, it remained illegal for unmarried women to purchase the pill until 1972. Oral contraceptives have evolved since their original debut; today, there are many brands on the market, and people can now choose from a variety of monophasic, biphasic, and triphasic options, which provide varying amounts of estrogen and progestin.

The creation of the Pill did more than give women control over their sexual health and fertility—it allowed them to choose to marry later, seek additional education, and advance in their careers. As Vanessa Grigoriadis wrote in New York magazine, “These days, women’s twenties are as free and fabulous as they can be, a time of boundless freedom and experimentation, of easily trying on and discarding identities, careers, partners. The Pill, which is the most popular form of contraception in the U.S., is still the symbol of that freedom.”


For decades, squirt guns were flimsy pieces of plastic that could barely muster enough power to water a houseplant. Then the first Super Soaker—then called the Power Drencher—hit the market in 1990, bringing along with it a Schwarzenegger-esque machismo and a sophisticated air-pressure system that promised to drench unsuspecting targets from far further than previous water guns. The allure of wreaking havoc at family get-togethers and school functions was apparently too much for kids to pass up, and more than 2 million guns flew off the shelves in its debut year. Al Davis, the former executive vice president of Larami, wrote in his book Super Soaker that “The deliveries would come into the stores, and the clerks wouldn’t even have time to put them on the shelves. They’d just take them out of the boxes and sell them to the kids waiting in line for them.”

In its first 25 years on the market, more than 175 different variations of the high-powered water gun were released, racking up over $1 billion in sales in the process. Hasbro bought Larami and the Super Soaker brand in 1995, and to this day, the company continues to release bigger models that promise to unleash more water-fueled mayhem every summer.

When the Strong National Museum of Play inducted the Super Soaker into its National Toy Hall of Fame in 2015, former Curator Patricia Hogan noted, “[The] Super Soaker had a big impact on neighborhood play. The small squirt guns of the past had required close-in work to engage the opposition. The long, drenching reach of Johnson’s invention requires a quick retreat from a soggy assault or a good chase, meaning that kids with Super Soakers do some serious sprinting. Calculating the distance to target and the physics of velocity and arc requires kids to use their brains. Contemplating strategies and tactics and puzzling out plans forces kids to analyze the best approaches to triumphal ends. And if kids get soaked in the process? It’s all good clean fun.”

None of this would have been possible if not for the outside-the-box thinking of former NASA engineer Lonnie Johnson. He got the idea for the Super Soaker while testing a new type of heat pump he had created that used water as a coolant in the early 1980s. While the heat pump worked fine, he also realized it was pretty fun to shoot concentrated streams of water from the pump across his bathroom.

“I was having trouble getting people to understand the hard science inventions I had like a heat pump or the digital measuring instrument,” Johnson told Forbes. “I thought the toy was something anyone could look at and appreciate.”

Though Johnson holds over 100 patents and worked on NASA’s Galileo mission to Jupiter, his reinvention of the water gun, from 29-cent novelty to summer staple, is something that generations of kids—and some unwitting bystanders—will never forget.



Less than a century ago, patients requiring a blood transfusion were in a race against time. There was no organized network for people to donate blood, and because blood was difficult to preserve, there was no way to store it for future use. Patients had to find their own blood donors before it was too late.

In 1937, after devising a technique for preserving blood for up to 10 days, physician Bernard Fantus set up the nation’s first “blood bank” at Chicago’s Cook County Hospital. People could make “deposits” of their own blood for their own use or to be given to others with matching blood types.

At about the same time, surgeon Charles R. Drew figured out a method for separating plasma from whole blood, and found that if whole blood wasn’t necessary, blood transfusions could be successfully performed with plasma alone. Plasma could be dried for long-term storage in blood banks. As World War II decimated Europe, Drew and the American Red Cross launched a groundbreaking program to collect donated plasma in the U.S. and ship it to Britain, essentially creating a national system for blood donation. During the war, he collaborated with the Red Cross to set up “bloodmobiles”—mobile blood donation centers that made sustaining blood banks more practical. Today, about 13.6 million units of whole blood and red blood cells are collected in the U.S. each year, saving countless lives.



When Lyman Spitzer proposed the invention of a space telescope in the 1940s, humans could look at our universe only through land-based instruments. Earth’s atmosphere acted like a veil between the land-based telescopes and space, blurring images and hindering detection of far-off celestial phenomena. Spitzer’s research paved the way for the Hubble Space Telescope, the first space-based major optical telescope, launched in 1990 and named for the American astronomer Edwin P. Hubble.

Over its three decades in orbit, Hubble has determined the age of the universe (13.8 billion years), accurately measured the distance to a neighboring galaxy, and spotted numerous moons and exoplanets, in addition to revealing the beauty of the universe through stunning photographs. “The Hubble space telescope has brought about a visual revolution, more significant than any recent work of art in transforming the way we see ourselves and the cosmos,” art critic Jonathan Jones wrote in The Guardian. This year, NASA is scheduled to launch the James Webb Space Telescope, the largest and most technologically advanced space telescope ever built, to unravel more secrets of space.



The pizza industry has undergone numerous innovations in recent decades, but one element that has remained largely the same is the box your pie comes in. Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan changed the game in the early 1960s when he worked with Triad Containers in Detroit to develop the modern pizza box. Prior to this, pizzas were delivered in bags or paperboard bakery boxes. These containers were flimsy and often crumpled under the intense heat of the pie before they reached their destinations. Domino’s corrugated cardboard containers were much more durable. They withstood grease and kept pizzas warm while releasing steam through strategically placed openings. Most importantly, the sturdy boxes were stackable, opening the door to mass deliveries.

But there was one area where the simple design fell short: The top of the box sometimes collapsed and stuck to the top of the pizza. The answer to this issue was the pizza saver, which Carmela Vitale patented in 1985. Shaped like a miniature patio table, the plastic device keeps the box lid separate from the pizza, thus keeping the cheese and toppings intact throughout the delivery journey. Vitale was a city council member—not a pizza salesperson—but she had eaten enough delivery pizza to notice a problem and come up with an ingenious solution.



One fall evening in 1895, Wilhelm Röntgen, a German physics professor, was experimenting with the conduction of electricity through low-pressure gases when he accidentally discovered a mysterious ray capable of making a chemical-coated screen fluoresce a few yards away. He went on to put objects between the tube and the screen to see the shadows they produced—and when he tried it with a hunk of lead, he saw shadows of not just the lead but the bones in his hand. Further experimentation showed that the screen could be replaced by a photographic plate—and the X-ray was born.

Röntgen named it X-strahlenstrahlen being German for “beam” or “ray,” and X being used in mathematics to indicate an unknown quantity [PDF]. Röntgen’s discovery revolutionized the way doctors detect disease and injury, from breast cancer to broken bones. Today, X-rays are also used to find cracks in everything from aircraft wings to nuclear reactors—helping make the modern world quite a bit safer. “Thanks to [Röntgen’s] invisible light,” radiologist Richard Gunderman wrote in The Conversation, “we now operate with a much deeper understanding of the universe we inhabit, the molecules and cells of which we are composed[,] and the diseases that threaten our lives.”


The first “wildlife cams” were invented by Pennsylvania Congressman and photography enthusiast George Shiras around the end of the 19th century. He got the idea from a hunting technique used by the Ojibwa tribe called jacklighting, in which a fire is built in a pan and placed in the front part of a canoe while the hunter sits in the bow. “The glow makes it possible to distinguish the animal, whose attention is caught by the flames, causing it to stand still with an expectant air,” Sonia Voss, who curated an exhibition of Shiras’s photographs, told National Geographic. “At the rear of the canoe, the hunter, cast into the shadows, only needs to aim between the animal’s eyes, which reflect the flames and stand out like two bright beacons in the night. In the photographic version, the fire is replaced by a kerosene lamp and the trigger of the rifle by the shutter release of the camera.” Later, Shiras graduated to cameras equipped with flash and tripped by a string.

Today, critter cameras have evolved to be so light that they can be strapped to marine life, are battery powered so they can be left in nature for months at a time, and have been attached to robots to get closer to dangerous creatures than ever before, giving us an unprecedented look into the lives of the animals we share the planet with, and the world they inhabit—and helping us make plenty of scientific discoveries along the way. Thanks to wildlife cameras, we know that fishers are breeding in Washington state for the first time in decades; the hairy-nosed otter—the world’s most endangered otter species—is once again lurking within Malaysia; and the rare Siamese crocodile is still slyly slipping around the waters of Thailand. Cameras have also snapped footage of previously unknown species, such as Tanzania’s grey-faced sengi (a species of elephant shrew). In 2020, trail cameras were essential in allowing scientists to continue their field research and gather data remotely during long stretches of COVID-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions.



Duct tape was the brainchild of Vesta Stoudt, an Illinois mom whose two sons were in the Navy. Stoudt worked at Green River Ordnance Plant packing and inspecting boxes of ammunition. The boxes were sealed with paper tape, dipped in wax, and had a tab to open them. Stoudt noticed that the boxes had a flaw: The tape was flimsy and tabs often tore off, which meant that soldiers couldn’t quickly open the boxes when they were under fire. Why not create a cloth-based waterproof tape to seal the boxes? She asked her supervisors, but they weren’t supportive, so she escalated the matter … straight to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. “I suggested we use a strong cloth tape to close seams, and make tab of same,” she wrote. “It worked fine, I showed it to different government inspectors they said it was all right, but I could never get them to change tape.”

The president sent her letter to the War Production Board, her idea was approved, and the rest is history. Duct tape has been a quick fix for everyone from your average joe to physicists (who use it on their particle accelerators) to astronauts (duct tape helped them make repairs on the moon). When the three crewmembers of Apollo 13 were forced to transfer to the lunar module, duct tape helped them survive—according to Northrop Grumman, the vessel was designed to hold two people for 36 hours, but after the accident, had to hold three for over 86 hours. They used the adhesive (along with cardboard, plastic bags, and space suit components) to adapt their square carbon dioxide filters to the module’s round holes. Jerry Woodfill, a NASA engineer who assisted the team from the ground, later told Universe Today, “Of course … the solution to every conceivable knotty problem has got to be duct tape! And so it was.”



On June 26, 1974, a grocery store cashier at Marsh Supermarket in Troy, Ohio, passed a pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit chewing gum over a scanner—and the item and price were automatically registered. It was the first time an item with a barcode had ever been purchased.

The inventors behind this marvel of commerce were N. Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver, who envisioned a system of lines that could identify consumer products by using encoded information read by an optical scanner. It all started when Silver, a grad student at Drexel, overheard the president of a local food chain talking to the dean about the need to automatically obtain product information. The dean wasn’t interested in pursuing the idea, but Silver mentioned it to his colleague Woodland, who thought the idea had so much promise that he quit his job and moved to Florida to pursue it [PDF]. Ultimately, Woodland devised a system inspired by Morse code (which he had used as a Boy Scout) as well as the movie sound systems of the 1920s. It was later refined with help from IBM employee George Laurer, and became the basis for getting through checkout lines faster.

Today’s standard barcodes are known as universal product codes, or UPC-A, and are comprised of 12 digits. The first is a product category—3 denotes a health-related item, for example, while the rest point to the manufacturer and specific product. The more recent QR barcodes commonly recognized by smartphones can deliver information in an instant. Barcodes are used across a variety of industries and can boost productivity eight to 10 times compared to manual data entry. It all makes for a much speedier transaction, but not always: Aldi grocery employees sometimes memorize popular product barcodes so heavy items can remain in the cart.



The idea of a seat belt for transportation safety doesn’t begin with Nils Bohlin, the Swedish engineer who conceived of a three-point shoulder and lap belt for automobiles in 1958. Other innovators, like 19th century aviator George Cayley, recognized a need to keep humans from being ejected out of planes and other moving vehicles. But it was Bohlin, a Volvo engineer, who sought to improve upon the two-point lap belts, which could sometimes do more harm than good in the event of an accident. (At high speeds, the belts were capable of causing internal injuries.) By stabilizing the torso with a shoulder strap, drivers and passengers were kept in place without resorting to the more burdensome four-point belts worn by pilots or an earlier Y-shaped belt placed over the stomach. In what could only be described as an act of corporate selflessness, Volvo allowed any car manufacturer to duplicate the belt. At the time of Bohlin’s death in 2002, it was estimated his invention had saved well over a million lives.



During World War II, engineer Percy Spencer aided the U.S. war effort through his work on magnetrons—tubes that generate electromagnetic waves for radar—while working for tech company Raytheon. His work didn’t end with the war. In 1945, Spencer was tinkering with magnetrons when he noticed the peanut cluster candy bar in his pocket had suddenly transformed into a “gooey, sticky mess.” It didn’t take long for him to realize the magnetron’s microwaves were responsible, prompting him to develop a microwave oven that people could use to heat food more deliberately. The refrigerator-sized “Radarange” debuted in the mid-1940s and was originally meant for restaurants and airplanes rather than regular homes. (Its $1250 price tag—nearly $17,000 today—would have made widespread success in that realm unlikely anyway.)

Designs improved and costs decreased over time, and the 1967 edition of the Radarange was a hit among homemakers. By the mid-1970s, the microwave oven—eventually just “the microwave”—was becoming a mainstay in U.S. kitchens, and not just for leftovers. Manufacturers marketed the appliance as a faster, easier, (literally) cooler alternative to conventional ovens. “Make the greatest cooking discovery since fire,” actress Barbara Hale said in a 1972 Radarange ad that Mad Men’s Don Draper surely would have wished he’d come up with himself. A 1971 ad for General Electric’s Just-A-Minute oven emphasized that “with the special timer, control settings, and recipe booklet that come with the oven, practically all the guesswork is taken out of cooking,” a boon to unconfident cooks everywhere. Full-fledged cookbooks cropped up, too—Madame Benoit’s Microwave Cook Book, Barbara Kafka’s The Microwave Gourmet, and so on—featuring everything from duck à l’orange to “Elegant Beef Dinner.” One 1978 cookbook even recommended making pie in the microwave (to get around the lack of browning, it was advised, just throw some yellow food coloring in there). And when Swanson debuted its plastic, microwave-safe trays in 1986, the microwave and the TV dinner entered into a marriage of convenience that worn-out adults would rely on for decades to come.



Decades after people started storing food in tin cans, someone finally came up with a way to crack them open that didn’t involve a chisel and a hammer (or some other dangerous tool). In the mid-19th century, a series of inventors built what were known as lever knives—not too dissimilar to the can opener on a modern Swiss Army Knife, and by 1870, William Lyman innovated a design that included a rotary cutte. But it wasn’t until the 1920s that Charles Arthur Bunker arrived on the scene with a patent that featured handles you squeeze together to safely puncture the lid and a handle you twist to propel a sharp little wheel along the rim. If that sounds familiar, it’s probably because today’s manual can openers are pretty much the same.


Like the button (which dates back thousands of years, though the buttonhole is a more recent innovation) and the zipper (invented in the 19th century) that came before it, Velcro revolutionized clothing—and we have old-fashioned curiosity to thank for its invention. In the 1940s, George de Mestral and his dog returned from a hunting trip covered in burdock burrs. Intrigued, de Mestral whipped out his microscope to find out what, exactly, made the burrs stick. He discovered that the burrs were covered in little hooks, and that provided de Mestral, a serial inventor, with a burst of inspiration: If he could create a fabric that mimicked the burrs’ hooks, and combine it with fabric loops those hooks could latch into, he’d have a middle ground between fasteners like buttons and zippers.

It took him some time to find a manufacturer to create his fabric; many didn’t think it could be done. But de Mestral persevered and continued to innovate on his idea until he had a product that worked, and Velcro—a trademarked combination of the French words velours and croche, meaning “velvet” and “hook,” respectively—debuted in the early ‘60s. Since then, it has proved as useful as de Mestral thought it would: NASA has used it to anchor equipment in space missions and during walks on the moon; Mead made use of the material as fasteners on its iconic Trapper Keepers; and, of course, it’s used in shoes and clothing, where it’s particularly helpful to people who have difficulty with zippers and buttons (or their caretakers).



Since its introduction at the turn of the 20th century, the air conditioner has transformed the quality of life in regions with warm climates—but the first modern air-conditioning unit wasn’t invented for people at all. It was created for a printing press.

In 1902, a 25-year-old engineer named Willis Carrier was asked to come up with a way to control the humidity at the Sackett & Wilhelms printing plant in Brooklyn, where the sweltering summer days frequently messed with the color register. After early tests with rollers, burlap, and calcium chloride brine, Carrier hit on a device that sent chilled water through heating coils. The system was installed later that same summer at the printing plant alongside fans, perforated steam pipes, and other accouterments. It was a huge success, and reportedly had the same cooling effect as 108,000 pounds of ice per day.

Carrier’s invention was sold everywhere from flour mills to razor factories, and air-conditioning went on to reshape both architecture (by allowing for skyscrapers where people didn’t broil on top floors) and nations, making the development of modern metropolises in sun-scorched places like Singapore, Shanghai, the Sun Belt, and Dubai possible. It also, of course, made everyday life more pleasant (and productive) for millions, if not billions. Ironically, the large amount of energy air conditioners consume has contributed to climate change, making the need for artificial cool air more vital than ever. “It’s not a matter of going back to the past. But before, people knew how to work with the climate,” Malaysian architect Ken Yeang told The Guardian. “Air conditioning became a way to control it, and it was no longer a concern. No one saw the consequences. People see them now.”



The story of the invention of the radio is about a race against time between two scientists—and the power of patents.

Guglielmo Marconi, an Italian inventor, sent and received his first radio signals in 1894, and patented his invention in 1896 in England. Three years later, Marconi sent wireless signals across the English Channel, and two years after that, he claimed that he received a message sent from across the Atlantic (that claim, however, is controversial).

At roughly the same time Marconi was at work in Europe, inventor Nikola Tesla was working on a similar invention in America. Tesla invented the Tesla coil—which sent and received radio waves—in the 1890s. He was all set up for a long-distance experiment in 1895, but a fire broke out in his lab, interrupting the experiment. Two years later, Tesla applied for his patent in the United States.

Marconi and Tesla’s paths converged in 1900, when Marconi applied for a patent in the U.S.—which was denied because Tesla’s had been approved earlier that year.

Undaunted, Marconi continued to apply, and in 1904, the U.S. declared him to be the creator of the radio. This, along with the fact that Marconi had won a Nobel Prize for the technology, enraged Tesla. In 1915, he sued Marconi for patent infringement, but lacked the financial resources to pursue the case.

But beyond the courtroom drama, radio was already at work transforming the world. In 1910, it helped catch Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen, a man who was accused of killing his wife and escaping to Canada on a ship with his lover; he was caught thanks to Marconi’s wireless telegraph, which sent radio waves, and a very clever ship captain. On August 31, 1920, the first radio news program was broadcast by a station in Detroit, and the first ad played on the radio in 1922, changing the world of advertising. Radio was also used during both World Wars.

From protests, music, famous speeches, and political unrest, the radio has broadcast many iconic moments and connected the world in a way Marconi and Tesla probably never imagined. Some have gone so far as to say that radio changed everything; as Jack Lule wrote in his bookUnderstanding Media and Culture, the radio became “an instrument of social cohesion as it brought together members of different classes and backgrounds to experience the world as a nation.”

As for who came out on top in the radio patent war? Tesla finally got his victory in 1943, when the Supreme Court upheld that his patent had priority. But it was a win the inventor never got to celebrate: He had passed away earlier that year.


While keeping fish as pets may have begun with the Romans, the first glass aquarium wasn’t created until 1832, when seamstress-turned-scientist Jeanne Villepreux-Power got tired of studying dead specimens in her lab. Observing marine life wasn’t as easy as observing animals on land, and she wanted to come up with a way to keep cephalopods—especially the paper nautilus—alive outside of the ocean.

To further her research, Villepreux-Power created three different types of aquariums: one for indoor study, one for shallow water, and one to be anchored to the ocean floor. The indoor glass aquarium allowed her to discover that the Argonauta Argo produced its own shell at the larva stage, as well as the fact that the animals can repair their shells within a few hours. She also came up with the idea of repopulating rivers using fish raised in aquariums. (Unfortunately, most of Villepreux-Power’s research was lost in a shipwreck, and she never rewrote her findings.)

Many would improve on her work, from Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward (who turned a terrarium upside down) to Anna Thynne (who created the first marine aquarium filled with coral and seaweed) to Robert Warington [PDF] (who published his findings after managing to keep the environment in a 12-gallon tank stable). Two decades after Villepreux-Power’s invention, the first public aquarium opened in London in 1853; a few years after that, P.T. Barnum built an aquarium inside his Barnum’s American Museum in New York, which visitors enjoyed for until the museum burned down in 1865.

Since then, aquariums have become a favorite pastime for people around the world: According to American Humane, 700 million people around the world visit zoos and aquariums annually. Like zoos, aquariums can help with conservation efforts and protect endangered species—and like zoos, they can be controversial, as we debate how humane it is to keep large marine mammals like dolphins, orcas, and beluga whales in tanks much smaller than their natural environments. Still, many aquariums aren’t just for entertainment, but are also focused on exactly what Villepreux-Power was when created an aquarium in the first place: studying and learning.



Lighting a home used to be a hazardous experience: Open flames on candles and in fireplaces could set things ablaze. The gas lamp, invented near the end of the 18th century, was a definite upgrade, but it had its own set of issues, from fumes to being hard to maintain to the potential for explosions.

Enter: the lightbulb.

While Thomas Edison is often credited with inventing the lightbulb, there were many scientists and researchers who worked on a version of the device before Edison. Inventors like Humphry Davy (creator of the arc lamp) demonstrated how electricity could be used to create light. In the first half of the 19th century, a series of improvements were made—so much so that in the 1840s later-Sir William Grove was able to give a lecture fully illuminated by electric light. But the light was exceedingly expensive, up to 4 shillings an hour (16 pounds or $22 in today’s money) and early lightbulbs themselves were both expensive to make and unreliable.

There wasn’t a breakthrough until 1878, when chemist Joseph Swan replaced the expensive platinum filament with a cheaper carbonized paper one that also had longevity. Edison demonstrated his lightbulb in 1879, one year after Swan. After a long patent infringement lawsuit, the two decided to combine forces and formed the company Edison-Swan United. Later in life, Edison would choose his lighting system as his greatest invention.

Even Edison and Swan’s bulb wasn’t perfect, however, and many scientists continued to improve on its design—including patent expert Lewis Latimer, who streamlined and improved the carbon filament by encasing it in cardboard instead of bamboo, an innovation that allowed for longer-lasting bulbs.

It’s not hyperbole to say that the modern lightbulb changed how society functioned. Beyond making the home safer, it helped cut back on health problems created by things like gas fumes and smoke inhalation, paved the way for longer working hours, impacted building design, and kicked off the creation of massive infrastructure like the electric grid. Lightbulbs went into everything from cars to airplanes to trains, increasing the rate of travel—and making it much safer. And the lightbulb has left its mark symbolically, too. “Even though this invention, Edison’s bulb, is 135 years old at this point,” Ernest Freeberg, author of The Age of Edison: Electric Light and the Invention of Modern Americasaid in 2015, “we still use [it] as the universal symbol for a great idea, for a stroke of inventive genius, for this Eureka moment.” Today, scientists work on improving the lightbulb every year, leading to more energy-efficient bulbs—and joining the long line of scientists and engineers whose bright ideas have changed history.

Inside the Yellowstone National Park Jail and Justice Center

H/T Mental Floss.

I did not know Yellowstone had a jail and justice center.


Inside the Yellowstone National Park Jail and Justice Center

Anna Pietrzykowska/iStock via Getty Images

Yellowstone National Park, located predominantly in Wyoming with some territory in Montana and Idaho, is a vast national resource. Most people come for the wildlife, the camping, or the views—but like any sprawling territory, it can also invite a degree of criminal mischief, from intoxication all the way up to the potential for homicide. There’s even a 50-square-mile zone of the park that could conceivably host the perfect murder owing to byzantine jurisdictional laws.

Anyone less than a criminal mastermind, however, is likely to be confronted by Yellowstone’s law enforcement team, which includes an Investigative Services Branch and an exclusive Yellowstone Justice Center, which has all the tools needed to process wayward park attendees.

“I think most people are surprised to know we have a judge and courtroom and jail within proximity,” Aimee Hanna, manager of the Justice Branch at Yellowstone, tells Mental Floss. “My experience is most folks are just surprised to even know national parks have law enforcement rangers.”

In other words: If you commit a crime inside Yellowstone’s borders, you’ll find yourself arrested by a Yellowstone ranger, sitting in a Yellowstone jail cell, and pleading your case to a Yellowstone judge.


Once a U.S. Army guard house, the jail is located roughly a quarter-mile from the Yellowstone Justice Center in the northern end of the park in Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming. Built in 2008, the Justice Center structure is what Hanna calls the “logistical” arm of the park’s federal law enforcement division. It’s the ultimate destination for anyone who commits an infraction. The jail holds offenders; the Justice Center processes them. (Yosemite National Park in California is the only other national park with both jail and court facilities.)

“Anything you can think of for someone being arrested in a city happens in Yellowstone,” Hanna says. “But it’s mostly alcohol, drugs, DUIs. People are intoxicated and get into fights.”

One example is Kyle Campbell of Fairmont, Indiana, who was sentenced in July 2021 to 60 days in jail, a five-year park ban, and $1550 in fines after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct while in Yellowstone. An intoxicated Campbell grew irate when a park guide refused his group a kayak tour. He resisted arrest by kicking and punching park officials.

For disturbances or emergencies in the same vein, the park has its own 911 dispatch center to field calls. Once arrested, park perps are transported to the jail facility, which consists of four cells and can typically hold up to eight people at once. (Hanna says that, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s now reduced capacity of one person to a cell.)

The cells are unremarkable save for the fact they’re inside the park. The “guests” are typically held for up to 48 hours until they’re able to be seen by the park’s magistrate judge, Mark Carman, a position created for the park back in 1894—a time when a case might have involved a stagecoach robbery. If the alleged offenders are arrested late on a Friday, that could mean a longer wait.

Guests of Yellowstone might be in for a weekend wait.COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE/JACOB W. FRANK

“You can have initial court appearances Monday through Friday,” Hanna says. “If you’re arrested Monday evening, you can have your appearance the next morning. Depending on how it goes, you could be released or remanded into custody. From there you’d be transported to another holding facility. There’s no court on weekends, so you might have to stay there until Monday.”

The courtroom resembles what you’d see in other jurisdictions, with a judge presiding over defense and prosecution tables. Defendants are entitled to a public defender or a private lawyer, while the federal government is represented by the Assistant United States Attorney specializing in parks and national forest service lands. Everyone walking into the building keeps an eye out for wandering elk.

Carman has seen just about everything before his bench, from frequent DUIs to domestic abuse cases and poachers. A father and son visiting the park tried stuffing a bison calf into their car because they thought they were helping to keep the calf warm. The father was made to pay a fine and donate $500 to the park’s foundation, but the calf had to be euthanized after rangers’ unsuccessful attempts to reunite it with its mother. Carman also once sentenced an 11-year-old boy to write an essay about why it’s wrong to take petrified wood.

Virtually all arrestees in the park that eventually see the judge are accused of misdemeanors. If a crime is serious enough to warrant a jury trial, it will be routed to a district capable of creating one; protracted sentences are served in other detention facilities. But Carman’s rulings can still be harsh even without jail time. One man who pled guilty to fighting with his girlfriend got a lifetime ban from the park.

Infractions at the park went up during the pandemic.COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE/JACOB W. FRANK

Hanna says that Yellowstone averages about 180 arrests a year, though the pandemic has caused a change in the type of charge. “We’re noticing more resource violations, trespassing violations,” she says. “Yellowstone has a lot of geologic features and thermal areas that are all closed to humans entering. There’s been an uptick of folks going off boardwalks and entering fragile thermal areas. It’s incredibly unsafe.”

Flirting with geysers and hot pots is dangerous business: The ground is thin and the water under it hot enough to scald skin (or worse—in 2016, a visitor fell into a thermal pool, and the boiling, acidic water dissolved his remains). There were a record 122 thermal trespass cases crossing Carman’s desk in 2020, up from an average of 40 annually.

Maybe it’s the guests’ feeling oneness with nature, but Hanna believes some defendants are open to receiving advice that might otherwise go unheeded. “A ranger pulled over a motorcycle that was going at an egregious speed,” she says. “There was a mandatory court appearance, and the person showed up for the court date. He said the ranger had spoken to him and given him information about seeing people hurt and going at excessive speeds. He shared with the court that the conversation changed the trajectory of his habits. He sold his motorcycle. He saw the impact of his actions.”

That said, anyone detained is probably not going to wind up enjoying their experience at Yellowstone. Despite the scenic surroundings, neither the jail nor the Justice Center is intended to be part of the tour. “There’s not much of a view,” Hanna says.

19 things you didn’t know about Pizza Hut


These are some amazing facts about Pizza Hut.

  • Pizza Hut is one of the largest pizza chains on Earth. 
  • The chain started in Kansas with just $600. 
  • It now has over 16,000 individual stores worldwide including in Tanzania, Russia, and Canada

Whether you like it topped with sardines, corned beef, curry or just plain cheese, chances are that you’ve dug into a Pizza Hut pizza. Marked by the iconic red roof, the chain opened in Kansas in the 1950s and has since expanded as far as Armenia, Russia, and Iceland.

It may be one of the largest pizza chains on Earth, but how much do you really know about it?

Read below for 19 facts about Pizza Hut you probably didn’t know before.

The pizza chain was started with just $600.

Pizza Hut
The place would soon grow into an incredibly popular fast-food joint. 
Shannon O’Hara /GettyImages

Kansas-born brothers Dan and Frank Carney founded Pizza Hut in Wichita, Kansas in 1958. Still in college at the time, they opened the restaurant with $600 borrowed from their mother.

The name “Pizza Hut” just happened to fit on the sign.

Pizza Hut
It was quite a simple start. 
Tim Boyle /GettyImages

The story behind Pizza Hut’s name isn’t very complicated. The sign outside the original building only had room for eight letters, so the founding brothers simply created a title that fit.

Mikhail Gorbachev had a political campaign set in a Pizza Hut.

Gorbachev pizza hut
Gorbachev was praised in the commercial for bringing “freedom” and “Pizza Hut.” 
Tom Darbyshire/YouTube

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev released a political television ad set in a Pizza Hut, reported CNN. In the commercial, which aired internationally, restaurant-goers praise Gorbachev for bringing Pizza Hut to his country.

They once delivered a pizza to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Mt. Kilimanjaro is 19,341 feet above sea level. 

In an incredible PR stunt, Pizza Hut delivery men hiked six hours to bring a pie to the highest point in Africa — the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, reported CNN.

They set a record for the highest-altitude pizza delivery on earth.

The original Pizza Hut building got picked up and moved.

Pizza Hut
The first Pizza Hut was in a small brick house. 
Pizza Hut

The 500-square-foot building that housed the original Pizza Hut got picked up and moved from its original location, reported the Witchita Eagle. It now sits on the Wichita State University campus in Kansas, where it will be transformed into a museum filled with Pizza Hut history, memorabilia, and fun facts.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush was the first to order Pizza Hut to the White House.

barbara bush
Barbara Bush, the wife of George H. W. Bush, was first lady from 1989 to 1993. 
David Valdez/Library of Congress

In 1989, former First Lady Barbara Bush ordered the first Pizza Hut delivery to the White House in Washington, DC. She was hosting 200 children at a charity event and needed refreshments.

Pizza Hut has a charity aimed at encouraging kids to read.

kid reading book with parent mom
The BOOK IT! program has existed for over three decades. 

Pizza Hut introduced the BOOK IT! program in 1984 and it reaches more than 14 million students annually. The program aims to encourage reading in children in schools nationwide.

They used to have a mascot called Pizza Pete.

Pizza Hut
Pizza Pete didn’t last too long. 
Pizza Hut

In the early days of Pizza Hut, the chain had a mascot named Pizza Pete. He was eventually replaced by the iconic red roof that has been the brand’s symbol since the 1970s.

Donald Trump saved the Hut’s stuffed-crust pizzas.

Donald Trump Pizza Hut
Donald Trump and Ivana starred in the commercial. 

When Pizza Hut first released their stuffed-crust pizzas, it seemed as if the idea would be a complete (and expensive) flop. However, a commercial starring Donald Trump and ex-wife Ivana convinced Americans to eat pizza crust-first. The ad earned Pizza Hut an additional $30 million in revenue in its first year.

Pizza Hut tried to laser their logo onto the moon.

Free Pizza Hut Logo Image
The plan ultimately failed. 
Pizza Hut

In 1999, Pizza Hut execs expressed interest in having the brand’s logo lasered into the face of the moon. The plan only failed because the logo would have had to be the size of Texas in order to be visible from space, reported the New York Times.

Pizza Hut is available in over 100 countries.

Pizza Hut
The first international location was in Canada. 
Shannon O’Hara/GettyImages

Pizza Hut has over 16,000 individual stores worldwide, baking pies in places like Mongolia, Finland, and Armenia. The 100th country to get Pizza Hut was Tanzania in 2016. The first international Pizza Hut opened in Canada in 1968.

They once gave away gold-covered pizzas during the Super Bowl.

Pizza Hut
They also gave out gift cards. 
Jeff Schear /GettyImages

In 2016, Pizza Hut gave away gold-covered pizzas to a few lucky fans in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl, reported CNBC. Along with the special pie, the chain also gifted winners with $100 Pizza Hut Gold Cards.

Pizza Hut hosts a National Pizza Championship.

pizza hut
Winners get $1000. 
Pizza Hut/Facebook

Each year, Pizza Hut hosts a National Pizza Championship in which Pizza Hut chefs from across the US compete in five rounds to see who can create the most delicious pizza.

Pizza Hut has delivered a pizza to space.

Yuri Usachov
Yuri Usachov received the pie. 
Wikimedia Commons

In 2001, Pizza Hut became the first chain to deliver a pizza to space. Russian astronaut Yuri Usachov received his pie via a resupply rocket while onboard the International Space Station. The stunt cost the Hut over a million dollars.

A blog exists dedicated to repurposed Pizza Hut buildings.

Pizza Hut
Some buildings even went on to become churches. 
Flickr/Joe Monin

Pizza Hut superfan Mike Neilson runs Used to Be A Pizza Hut, a blog dedicated to the transformations of classic red roof Pizza Hut buildings.

User-submitted photos from all around the world reveal how old Huts have been turned into anything from adult video stores to churches.

You can still view an early training video online.

Pizza Hut
GNAV TV uploaded the video to YouTube. 

Looking to get ahead of the game before your first day of work? A 17-minute-long Pizza Hut training video from 1988 is available on Youtube.

The first Russian Pizza Hut fans liked sardines and tuna on their pies.

Russia Pizza Hut
The famed pie was the “Moskva” pie. 

The first Pizza Hut in Russia opened in Moscow in 1990.

At the time, Russian customers’ favorite pizza was the Moskva, which came topped with sardines, tuna, mackerel, salmon, and onion. The Moscow branch quickly became the most popular, serving the highest volume of pizzas out of all of Pizza Hut’s locations.

For a while, Pizza Hut had a fragrance line.

Pizza Hut
Only 100 fans got to try the pizza-scented perfume. 
Pizza Hut / Facebook

For a limited time, the Canadian branch of Pizza Hut offered pizza-scented perfume. The company said fans should expect the fragrance to be “like dough with a little bit of seasoning added.” In the end, only 100 lucky fans got the opportunity to try it out for themselves.

Pizza Hut offered the first online delivery service.

Pizza Hut
Pizza Hut makes online ordering easy. 
Shannon O’Hara/GettyImages

In 1994, Pizza Hut launched online ordering, making it the first pizza company to offer the service (and save the world from awkward phone conversations in doing so).

A Soul Lost From WWII Comes Home – Epilogue

Masako and Spam Musubi

Fortune in War

I believe there is fortune in war.

Before Pearl Harbor, the US was still not recovered from the Great Depression.  With the money printed in great quantity – as a necessity – by the US government, the US war machine rolled into action.  Many executives and businessmen taking part in this frantic and mass expenditure of government money with their companies gained their financial fortunes from this great war as did a large number of Congressmen.

The boots on the ground also had fortune – but it was MISfortune.  Misfortune fell upon the millions of brave young men who were sent to war because world leaders had their own agendas.  Millions were killed like my dad’s favorite brother, my Uncle Suetaro.

Misfortune, unfortunately, also followed home for the rest of their lives those young men who survived combat.   Men like Smitty, Old Man Jack and

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A Soul Lost in a Faraway Jungle – Part 2

Masako and Spam Musubi

It is believed I occupy a potentially unique position when it comes to looking at history as it pertains to the Pacific Theater in World War II.  I am American first and foremost and have studied WWII history out of curiosity.  As expressed in the description of my blog, my viewpoint is from “one war, two countries, one family”.  However, one potential uniqueness is that I am able to read a bit of Japanese; you may be amazed to read what is written about WWII from the Japanese viewpoint of history. As such, I believe each battle will have in the background two broad, driving and dissimilar viewpoints: one from America and one from Japan.  The attack on Pearl Harbor is one example. But that is but the surface on war’s history – a high altitude view.  One that can be easily manipulated politically. But being on the ground dealing…

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Leyte continued

Pacific Paratrooper

LST’s # 66,67,18,245,102 on 20 October 1944

While the Imperial Navy was floundering in their attempts to halt the persistent invasion of Leyte, Gen. Yamashita was in his headquarters at Fort McKinley on Luzon. He was receiving very little information from his own people and upon hearing of the US landing, he was heard to say, “Very interesting. But where is Leyte?” [The Japanese general had only just been transferred from Manchuria.]

Yamashita did not feel that the Japanese all-out standing defense should be on Leyte and he refused to supply more troops to the island. But he was overruled. Gen. Terauchi, knowing that the island’s occupation by the Americans would divide their bases, so reinforcements would be sent in.

Yamashita Tomoyuki, 1945

21 October – Most of the Japanese beach defenses had been shattered by bombing and strafing and a majority of the 1st Battalion/16th Division had been wiped…

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Leyte, Philippines begins

Pacific Paratrooper

Leyte, Oct. 1944

20 October – the X and XXIV Corps of the 6th Army, under General Krueger, made their amphibious landing on a 25-mile (40 km) stretch of coastline between Dulag and Tacloban on the eastern side of Leyte.

At 0945, the 1st Cavalry went ashore on White Beach, the 24th Infantry Division went on their left at Red Beach and the 96th Infantry Division landed further south on Orange and Blue Beaches.  They all moved inland for about a mile, hitting stiffer resistance as they went.

MacArthur observing the beach at Leyte

The 7th Infantry Division at Violet and Yellow Beaches had the lightest opposition, but Dulag was taken by the following day.  MacArthur described the view he witnessed from the flag bridge of the USS Nashville:

“Landings are explosive once the shooting begins and now thousands of guns were throwing their shells with a roar that…

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