Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Neatorama's "The 10 Neatest New York Inventions Ever"

Via the HuffPo:

Here's Neatorama's list of the 10 Neatest New York Inventions Ever:

1. Jell-O Peter Cooper

Not satisfied with having built the first American locomotive and running for president (for the Greenback Party ticket), industrialist Peter Cooper decided to try his hand in desserts. In 1845, he patented the formula for powdered gelatin.

You may not know the name "Peter Cooper," but I bet you've heard of what his invention later became known as. That's right. Jell-O.

2. Club Sandwich

The next time you eat a club sandwich for lunch, think about this: it was invented in a gambling house called the Saratoga Club-House in upstate Saratoga Springs, New York.

3. Potato Chip

Fed up with a customer complaint that his french fries were "too thick," George Crum, the head chef of Moon's Lake House (also in Saratoga Springs, apparently a hotbed of culinary inventions) sliced potatoes really thin, then over-fried them to a crisp and overload them with salt. Though Crum meant that as a culinary insult, the customer really loved it and thus the Saratoga Chips (later potato chip) was born in 1853.

With the profits from the chips, Crum was able to open his own restaurant. Oh, and how did the potato chip became world famous? It was when Crum met a guy named Herman Lay. That's right, of Frito-Lay fame.

4. Toilet Paper

If there's only one good thing that came out of New York, I'm sure you'll agree that this one surely is enough. I'm talking about toilet paper.

In 1857, Joseph C. Gayetty produced the first packaged toilet paper. It consists of pre-moistened flat sheets medicated with aloe. Before that, people used leaves, sticks, corn cobs, and even magazines (a favorite was the "Rears and Sorebutt" catalog. I think you know which one I'm talking about)

5. Air Conditioining

Here are two letters that will stop people from yearning for the good ol' days: AC. The next time you turn on the air conditioning to cool off during a hot day, thank this New York man: Willis Haviland Carrier.

Interestingly, Carrier didn't invent the modern air conditioning unit for people. He created the "Apparatus for Treating Air" to solve a humidity problem at a printing plant.

What did people do to cool a house before Carrier came along? One idea was to wrap a building in cloth saturated with melted ice water with a fan blowing hot air overhead. The idea actually worked - you could cool a building down with this method - but it has one big drawback: it consumed about a quarter of a million pounds of ice every month....MORE