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1. Popsicles

red, purple and orange popsicles
Jeni Foto/ Shutterstock

You can call Popsicles a happy accident. Popsicles were patented in 1924, but their story begins a few decades earlier.

In 1905, 11-year-old Frank Epperson accidentally left a soda that he’d been drinking out on his porch overnight. When he found it again the next day, it had frozen, but out of curiosity, he tried it — and loved it.

Soon, Epperson started selling the creations he’d dubbed “Epsicles” on the beach near his house, and history was made. When he got around to patenting his recipe, his ingredients also included recommendations for the proper wood for the stick (birch, wood-bass, or poplar.)

Thank goodness Frank Epperson had kids, though: It was his children who convinced him to change the name of his creation to “Popsicle” (as in “a Pop’s Sicle”.)

Can you imagine hot childhood summers without a “drink on a stick” and a garden hose to cool off with? Apparently, many of us can’t — two billion Popsicles are sold every year.

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2. Band-Aids

a woman bandaging her finger over a cutting board with cut tomatoes on it
andriano.cz / Shutterstock

Before individual adhesive bandages were invented, ancient civilizations used things like honey, sugar, and fig leaves to protect their scrapes and banged elbows.

The invention of Band-Aids is attributed to a man named Earle Dickson, who in 1920 was newly married and working for a medical supplies company. Dickson’s bride Josephine was constantly cutting herself in the kitchen, and their first solution — sticking cotton balls on her arms — didn’t help much. Then Dickson thought of securing gauze to surgical tape.

First he placed the surgical tape upside down, then took the cotton strips and placed them in the center, and finished by keeping it together using crinoline, a material better known for its usage in fashion.

His bosses were immediately enthusiastic about the idea, and launched “cut your own” Band-Aids in 1920. The trouble was they didn’t sell well because cotton was so expensive.

Then, marketers at Johnson & Johnson thought of sending free Band-Aids home with different Boy Scout troops across the country. The ploy worked.

In 1924, individual-sized Band-Aids launched (thank goodness), along with the handy red string that you pulled to open the package,

3. Iodized salt

two salt shakers spilling salt set against a black background
Ekaterina Markelova / Shutterstock

In documents from Chinese medicine around 3600 BCE, it was observed that people who had more seaweed and burnt sea sponge in their diets had less chance of developing goiters.

Although it wouldn’t be properly identified for centuries, the magic ingredient in those foods was iodine, a micronutrient discovered in soil that’s needed for proper thyroid function.

Thyroids are butterfly-shaped glands in our necks that regulate energy levels and metabolism, and if they aren’t functioning well, they can swell, causing goiters.

Because iodine isn’t found in equal quantities in all soil, many parts of the world used to suffer from iodine deficiencies.

While iodine does occur naturally in many foods, like dairy, fish, seaweed, and eggs, scientists found that putting iodine on salt was an easy and effective way of distributing it to make sure it was available to as many people as possible.

After several studies proved that iodine decreased the chances of thyroid disorders, iodized salt first appeared on grocery stores shelves in Michigan on May 1, 1924.

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4. Kleenex

a Kleenex box on a wooden table
RustyR / Shutterstock

First advertised as a “marvelous way to remove cold cream” (a combination of facial cleanser and moisturizer), customers soon realized that the absorbent tissue known as Kleenex had multiple uses.

Only a few years later, Kimberly-Clark conducted tests in an Illinois newspaper to see how many people used Kleenex for its intended purpose, versus how many blew their noses with it. They were intrigued that 60% of their buyers used the tissue as disposable handkerchiefs. With that information, they switched up their marketing campaign and their sales doubled.

The main mind behind Kleenex is considered to be Albert Lasker, who became one of the first advertising superstars of the 1900s by seizing on the idea that advertisements should not only inform, but sell the audience on the proposed product.

Lasker is also the executive who gave the U.S. the first sanitary pads and, for better or worse, broke down a lot of the stigma around women smoking cigarettes.

5. The first working T.V.

Baird Televisor
Wikimedia Commons

The television that debuted in 1924 is not anything we would recognize today, as its inventor, a Scottish man named John Logie Baird, cobbled it together out of cardboard, a bicycle lamp and wax.

However, it was able to transmit an image from a distance of a few feet.

Within a few years, Baird was showing off his invention in department stores, and by 1929, the first 1,000 of a model called the “Baird Televisor” hit store shelves.

Apparently, the Televisor was the size of a kitchen cabinet and projected an image the size of a postage stamp.

A few years later, a man named Philo Farnsworth would invent an electric television, which quickly made Baird’s “projecting T.V.” obsolete.

But without John Logie Baird, there might not have been a Philo Farnsworth, or a Netflix message asking you if you’re still watching.

6. Wheaties breakfast cereal

Wheaties boxes on a grocery shelf
Eric Glenn / Shutterstock

Wheaties was invented accidentally in 1921, when a health clinician accidentally spilled some bran “gruel” onto a hot stove and admired how it sizzled into a yummy, whole grain flake.

The Washburn Crosby Company (which later became General Mills) took the idea and ran with it, debuting its healthy breakfast cereal “Washburn’s Gold Medal Whole Wheat Flakes” in 1924. Thankfully, they came up with the catchier, easier-to-remember name “Wheaties” within a few years.

By the 1930s, Wheaties had adopted the slogan “Breakfast of Champions” that is still used today. The cereal was associated with athletes very early on, because General Mills owned a radio station and had a contract to broadcast the Minnesota Miners’ baseball games. They were also allowed to advertise the cereal on the stadium’s billboards.

By 1934, Lou Gehrig had appeared on the back of the box, and by 1939, 46 of the 51 players in that year’s All-Star Game had appeared on the box.

A lot more cereals have crowded the field since Wheaties launched a century ago, which has dented its popularity, but to this day, it still holds a place in the top 20 of Amazon Marketplace’s most ordered breakfast cereals.

7. Winnie-the-Pooh

A Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal against a background of yellow flowers
Raul Pongasi Berame / Shutterstock

Oh, bother.

The beloved children’s book character first peeked out of The Hundred-Acre Wood in the book When We Were Very Young, published in 1924 by author A.A. Milne.

Being shy, he first introduced himself as Edward Bear in the poem Teddy Bear, only to reveal his true name in his first book published a few years later.

The escapades of Pooh and his friends were an immediate success, and their popularity has only grown since.

Considered one of the first examples of the golden age of children’s literature, Winnie has starred in movies, become an amusement park ride, and been awarded his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Between box office films, DVDs and retail goods that have etched him into the minds of thousands of people, Winnie the Pooh has made close to $50 billion for the Walt Disney Company.


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Bronwyn Petry Email Specialist

Bronwyn is currently part of the email content team for Moneywise. Before starting here, they freelanced for several years, focusing on B2B content and technical copy. Pre-pandemic, you could find them planning their next trip, but lately, if they're not at work, you can find them hanging out with their cat and dog.


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