Did you know some items you've used since childhood don't have such innocent beginnings? Just think for a moment what school would have been like without ballpoint pens. Or what Halloween would be like without fun-size of M&Ms! Some of our most used tools and favorite snacks wouldn't exist without war. Do you want to know what other modern conveniences were created during times of conflict? You won't believe what invention made mass produced guacamole possible!
M&Ms Were First Sold Exclusively To The Military
In 1941, M&Ms were invented, but civilians wouldn't experience the joys of the rainbow-colored chocolate candy until years later. The sweets weren't originally developed for the military, but sugar was not available to the public during WWII, so Frank Mars and his son shipped the iconic treat to the troops overseas.
After the war sugar rations were lifted, M&Ms reached consumer shelves and instantly became popular. The candy is so loved that today 400 million of them are made every day. That's a lot of sugar!
Ballpoint Pens Were First Used By Fighter Pilots
These days you'd be shocked to find anyone using a fountain pen. Ballpoint pens might be everywhere today but were first used by fighter pilots in 1938. The invention of the pen happened when Laszlo Biro began experimenting with instant dry ink.
The ink, he noted, was the same kind that printing shops used to mass produce books and newspapers. When he took his fantastic product to market, the Royal Airforce placed an order for 30,000! The new invention helped pilots take quick notes in the air without smudges and spills. Coming up, the origins of everyone's favorite canned pasta.
Chef Boyardee Sold Their Family Recipe To The Military
Originally spelled Boiardis, the canned ravioli we all grew up eating as kids turned out to be one of the most important inventions during WWII. The Boiardis family started their business in Cleveland, teaching locals how to cook Italian food. The U.S. Military found out about the company and asked them to produce canned food for the troops.
The Boiardis altered the company name to Chef Boyardee and changed the entire consumer food industry in the process. When the war ended, the family was given a Gold Star of excellence award. Coming up, the secrets to preserving guacamole are revealed.
High-Pressure Packaging Turned Guacamole Into A Staple
Believe it or not, guacamole wasn't just served in cantinas during WWII. The military found a way to pressure pack foods that rotted quickly to ship them overseas for soldiers to enjoy. Using this breakthrough method, soldiers were able to enjoy guacamole, as well as preserved fruits and vegetables.
For years before the war, Mexican restaurants had tried and failed to find ways to make the avocado dish last longer. It was the Army's Natick division that cracked the code. Without them, what would we dip our chips in during the big game?
Photocopying Hasn't Changed Since 1937
Chester Carlson grew up with his nose buried in books about Thomas Edison. He loved learning about history's great inventors and dreamed of becoming one himself. In 1937 his dreams came true when he filed a patent for xerography, a photocopying technology he developed after experimenting in his kitchen.
Since then, the process of photocopying has stayed relatively the same. Before the invention of Carlson's technology, copies were made through typing and proofreading, a time-consuming and back-breaking process that we imagine no one enjoyed. Ever.
Sliced Bread Is Still Hailed As One Of The Greatest Inventions Ever
Before sliced bread was invented for soldiers to take overseas with them, loaves of bread were more commonly made in the kitchen. While homemade is always better, bread went stale fast, which was inconvenient for the military.
The demand for bread by the troops forced military scientists to come up with anti-staling additives to increase shelf life. This, of course, led to an entire aisle at the grocery store being dedicated to bread in all its most delicious forms!
Nescafe Was Invented To Preserve Unused Coffee Stocks
It's hard to imagine a time when we would have so much coffee, we wouldn't know what to do with it. Ironically, during the Great Depression, this fantasy was a reality. Refusing to cut their losses, coffee suppliers asked Nestle to save their businesses. Nestle did just that, inventing Nescafe, instant coffee made from drying the coffee extract with carbohydrates.
Nestle invented Nescafe in 1938, and when the war ended, other companies came up with their own ways to produce freeze-dried coffee to enter the morning beverage market. Even if instant coffee isn't your favorite way to enjoy caffeine, you can't deny it's lifesaving in an emergency!
Superglue Was Invented Accidentally By Kodak
Here's a strange one for you. Superglue was accidentally invented by a Kodak employee trying to invent gun sights. Dr. Harry Coover was in his lab when a chemical mixture he was working with bonded together. He struggled to separate it and moved on to a different experiment.
Sixteen years later in 1958, the world found a purpose for Superglue as a new super adhesive. Luckily enough, Coover had patented the rejected material in 1942. The adhesive has been seen in households and classrooms sense!
You Might Not Like Radar, But You'll Never Get Away From It
Do you know what radar is used for in modern life? If you guessed to catch people driving over the speed limit, then you are correct. Those signs that say, "speed enforced by radar" all over freeways aren't bluffing. Fun fact, radar, like everything else on this list, was invented during WWII.
During the war, this wasn't what radar was used for. It was used to help find enemy aircraft and submarines hidden out of view. It's kind of funny to think that now we hide radar guns out of view to catch you breaking the law while in it.
What Would Cheetos Be Without Cheese Dust?
Finding ways to preserve food so soldiers could experience a little bit of home while away was incredibly important. One of the things soldiers missed the most was cheese. Fear not, friends, the military put their scientists on it. They figured out how to emulsify cheese with salt, creating cheese dust.
In 1948, Frito Lay took cheese dust to the grocery store and created one of our favorite childhood treats; Cheetos. Next time you eat corn puffs sprayed with cheese dust, put your hand over your heart and stand. It's the most patriotic thing you can do.