Products

The messages in this area focus on the products which make up modern life.  While there could be thousands of these stories, the focus here are products which have meaning beyond the product itself.

    • The Airstream: An Iconic American Product

      Wally Byam had a problem. He loved to go camping, but his wife was not a fan of sleeping outdoors. Using the chassis from a Model T Ford, he built a tank enclosure over the base of the chassis. The structure was made of plywood. He would pull the trailer along on...

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    • Toilet Paper

      We don’t know much about Joseph Gayetty except that he introduced to the world one of our most vital products: toilet paper. Gayetty marketed his product as medicated paper. It was a single sheet of paper made from hemp containing aloe as a lubricant. It was thought...

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    • The Ballpoint Pen

      John Loud, an attorney, had a need for a writing instrument that he could use on rough material. He created what we now call a ballpoint pen. He was able to get a patent on his device in 1888. The only trouble was that it didn’t work well on paper, and there was...

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    • The Steel Guitar

      Joseph Kekuku, a native of Hawaii, was a student in a boarding school in Honolulu. He was walking along the road one day with his old Spanish guitar. Seeing a rusty bolt on the ground, he reached down to pick it up. The bolt accidentally hit one of the strings on his...

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    • Jell-O: Recycled Food

      We don’t think of food as being recycled, but that’s the story of one of America’s iconic food products. Gelatin is a protein produced from boiled bones and other animal products left over from other higher-value meat servings. While we might think of gelatin as...

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    • The Disposable Diaper: A Bottom-Up Solution

      Marion Donovan was born in Indiana in 1917. Her mother passed away when she was seven, and she spent much of her young years at the manufacturing plant her father ran. Her father was an inventor and encouraged Marion’s curiosity. Her first invention was a tooth...

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    • The Death of a Child

      Walter Hunt was born in the state of New York in 1796. He had 11 siblings and was educated in a one-room classroom. At the age of 21, he graduated from college with a master’s degree in masonry. Walter was one of the nation’s top inventors, and some of those...

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    • Bumper Stickers – A Souvenir of Self Expression

      Prior to the invention of the automobile, people would attach advertisements to their buggies using notes. When cars came around, the advertisements continued even though cars didn’t have bumpers. It wasn’t until 1927 that bumpers were added to cars to make them...

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    • Cup Holders

      Tort reform advocates often site a lawsuit by Stella Liebeck against McDonalds as an example of a frivolous lawsuit. She suffered third-degree burns when a cup of coffee spilled on her while she was driving. Her car had no cup holders. Stella’s lawsuit was the subject...

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    • The Ketchup Bottle

      Ketchup has long been one of our most popular condiments. The H.J. Heinz Company made ketchup the success it is today, but it was an inventor by the name of Paul Brown who also had a role in making ketchup popular. When Heinz first started producing ketchup, it was...

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