We often buy or use many common things every day without realizing that many of these were meant to be used for a completely different purpose. Some of these things even have fascinating back stories that are worth knowing. From your refrigerator to the beer bottles, here are some of the interesting backstories behind everyday things that you probably don’t know.
T-shirts have actually evolved from undergarments. In 90’s, an underwear company ran an ad in magazines to introduce a new undergarment for bachelors. The ad showed a before photo of an embarrassing man who had lost all of the buttons from an undershirt and had safety-pinned its flaps together. The after photo showed a gentleman wearing a “bachelor undershirt” with the slogan “No Safety Pins -- No Needle -- No Thread -- No Buttons” to advertise their new product aimed for men without wives or sewing skills. The ad became popular and in 1913, US Navy started issuing t-shirt with crew necks for sailors as a part of their uniform.
Brown & Green Beer Bottles
Have you ever wondered why the color of beer bottles is always kept brown or green in most cases? The bottling of beer started by the end of 17th century when brewers found that glass bottles helped keep beer fresh. But, it was found that leaving the beer in sunlight for too long would cause the beer to smell and taste skunky. Scientists figured out that the UV rays from the sun caused the alpha acids in hops to break down and react with sulfur in the beer. The solution to protect the beer from these UV rays was to tint the bottles with dark brown color. However, during World War II, the demand for brown glass grew, forcing brewers to forfeit the glass and use clear glass instead, which looked cheaper. Higher quality brewers came up with a solution to use green glass to differentiate their brand from cheap quality brewers, and it quickly became a status symbol, despite providing little protection against UV rays.
While refrigerator designs are supposed to remain airtight, the original design included a latch mechanism that could be used to open the fridge from the outside. But it was found that children who occasionally happened to play around abandoned appliances got trapped, which resulted in several deaths. Due to such tragic incidents, people were often advised to keep the doors open for refrigerators that were not in use. It was until 1956 that The Refrigerator Safety Act was enforced in the United States, which apparently also remained responsible for magnetic doors that are used even today.
Being one of the best products to protect fragile items, bubble wrap is equally fascinating and one of the favorite procrastination materials of all time. But did you know that bubble wrap was originally developed to be used as wallpaper? Originally invented by engineers Alfred Fielding and Chavannes in 1957 by sealing two shower curtains together, their vision was to market this product as wallpaper. But, their idea didn’t work as planned. In 1960, Frederick W. Bowers finally found the right application for the product. He showed how bubble-wrap could protect the fragile items in IBMs 1401 computers during transportation, and the product found its niche as a packaging material. It quickly became a hit.
We know that a piggy bank is a coin bank shaped like a pig. But, where did this idea really come from? The origin of the piggy bank dates back 600 years ago before banks even existed. During the Middle Ages, people saved their money at home in common kitchen jars. But, metal being expensive at that time, utensils were made from an orange-color clay called “pygg”. People used to store money in such pygg pots. Eventually, as the English language evolved, the pronunciation of “u” changed to “i” changing “pygg” to pig”. Over two hundred years, the clay (pygg) and piggy (animal) came to be pronounced as same. The Europeans eventually forgot about the clay and in the 19th century and when English potters received requests to produce pygg banks, they started creating banks in the shape of the animal.
Before rubber erasers, crustless bread was used to erase lead or charcoal marks from paper. The first eraser is reported to have developed in 1770 by Edward Nairne, who accidentally picked up rubber instead of breadcrumbs and discovered its erasing properties. However, raw rubber was found to be perishable and in 1839, Charles Goodyear made it more durable by discovering the process of vulcanization.
The first ATM in the world was installed 50 years ago in a branch of Barclays in Enfield. John Shepherd-Barron, the man who invented the cash machine, felt that there must be a way to get his own money anywhere in the world and thought of using a chocolate bar dispenser by replacing chocolate with cash. Barclays loved the idea and immediately signed a contract with him. For the PIN, he first thought of using a six-digit number. His wife Caroline said that she could only remember four, and so we now have 4-digit PINs for use at the ATM.
M&Ms were originally developed for soldiers in World War II to carry chocolates without leaving them to melt in warm weather. Copied from the British Smarties that used chocolate pellets with a colored shell to prevent candies from melting, Forrest Mars Sr., son of Mars company founder, patented his own process in 1941 and started production under the company M&M Limited. The demand for these candies grew during World War II, selling the candies exclusively to the military during that time. Today, more than 400 million M&Ms are produced every day in the United States.
If you believe that leather items with the tag of “genuine leather” mean that the product is made up of highest leather quality, you’re wrong. In fact, genuine leather means that the leather used is of the lowest quality. Products marked with genuine leather make use of several layers of low-quality leather and fiber sheets bonded together with glue that are then painted to look like better-quality leather. However, this grade of leather will not last for long.