By: LA New Product Development Team based in Shreveport, Louisiana.
We all know of some of the best inventions. Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone and that the Wright brothers invented the airplane… but who invented beer? And what about inflatable boats, scooters, ketchup, grillers, and other creations that make summer so enjoyable? Can you imagine a world without any of the best inventions for summer?
Lewis and Clark would’ve enjoyed their expedition much more in an RV. The Romans could’ve transported their flagons of wine in heavy-duty coolers. If Henry VIII was able to lay in an anti-gravity chair with some potato chips, maybe he wouldn’t have been so salty.
Once upon a time, these products were the ideas of forward-thinking, industrious individuals (like you) who happened to believe in and invest in their ideas thereby changing the way we “do summer” forever. Summer’s best inventions have changed our lives for the better, and it’s time that they receive the recognition they deserve.
Before men with dad bods took these portable recliners to the beach, NASA had something else in mind. When astronauts travel into space, they sit in a reclined place (with their feet over their hearts) to put as little stress on the body as possible. Not only do these chairs make relaxing easy, but physicians agree that the zero-gravity position is the healthiest way to sit. Companies eventually took this concept and created chairs that leaned far enough to relieve the stress on the spinal cord while providing a level of comfort never before experienced by anyone. Thank you, NASA!
Sunscreen is one of summer’s best inventions, but also four different scientists claim they invented it. The first and oldest credited inventor is Australian chemist Milton Blake, who created a sunburn cream in his kitchen. L’Oreal cosmetics founder Eugene Schueller, also a chemist, created and marketed his cream in 1936, but neither of the chemist’s inventions was too effective. Austrian Scientist Franz Greiter and Florida Physician Benjamin Green are also thought of as the inventors, but none of their thick, paint-like substances compare to the sprays and lotions that we have today. Still, if it weren’t for the similar ideas of these four men, we’d have to spend a lot more time in the shade.
Speaking of shade, the basic umbrella was invented more than 4,000 years ago! Ancient art and artifacts of Egypt, Assyria, Greece, and China all point to its creation, but today’s umbrellas can be traced back to the Victorian era where Samuel Fox became it’s credited inventor in 1852.
The first swimsuits were definitely not swimsuits. People simply swam in any clothing they thought was appropriate (or inappropriate, as many still do today). Swimsuits–or rather, swim gowns–were invented in the 18th century, and they left everything to the imagination. The bikini wasn’t until later by Louis Reard and Jacques Heim in 1946.
According to the famous tale, George Crum, the head chef at Moons Lake House, New York, invented potato chips. One day, a client had the guts to say that George’s French fries were “too soggy and thick” and also “not salty enough.” The irritated cook decided to take his revenge culinary style. Crum sliced the potatoes until they were paper-thin, fried them until they were brown, salted the living hell out of them, and dumped them in front of the annoying diner. The client tried one, smiled, and then helped himself to the rest of them. I guess once you pop, you really can’t stop!
The first published tomato ketchup recipe was done by James Mease, a horticulturist who called tomatoes “love apples.” His recipe consisted of tomato spices, pulp, and brandy, and lacked sugar and vinegar. Heinz Henry invented a more familiar version of ketchup by using a Chinese recipe ‘Cat Sup,’ a gelatinous sauce made from starch, tomatoes, and special seasoning.
George Stephen is the brain behind the hemispherical grill design, often referred to as “Sputnik.” He got tired of the wind blowing ashes onto his food while grilling, so he decided to weld three steel legs onto the lower half of a buoy and created a shallow hemisphere to be used as a lid. Thus, one of the best inventions, the griller, was born. He started making similar contraptions for his friends and neighbors who saw and liked his grill. Years later, Weber-Stephen Products Co. was founded.
For centuries, Pyrethrum was used as an insecticide in Europe and Persia. Eiichiro Ueyama, a Japanese business tycoon, made into a mosquito coil sometime in the 19th century.
In 1882, Edward Johnson joined other New Yorkers in decking the halls as Christmas drew closer. After taking care of the usual annual decorating ritual, the 36-year-old decided to add a special touch by stringing the newly-created electric lights on his tree (thanks, Edison!). Although usually reserved for winter, tree lights are pretty in the summer, too.
Brothers Ryan and Roy Seiders got frustrated while fishing one day and wanted to stand on their coolers (because, why not?!). They created heavy duty coolers so that they could sit or stand on them without the fear of collapsing, and so that the items inside would remain cold as they went fishing and hunted. The result was a $300 cooler that they have since turned into a $450 million dollar brand.
North American natives invented canoes thousands of years ago. The word ‘canoe’ actually comes from the word ‘kenu,’ which means dugout. No one really knows when or who created modern canoes, but are likely the results of constant, continuous improvements to the original canoe.
Pierce-Arrow created the first RV, his touring Landau, in 1910. The Landau had a sink, a chamber pot toilet, and a back seat that folded out into a bed. Like many of summer’s other best inventions, the concept was pretty rudimentary, but everything starts from somewhere.
Finally! Let’s talk about beer!
Beer itself has basically existed forever. However, Dr. Alexander Nowell invented bottled beer by mistake 440 years ago. A fishing fanatic and forgetful Church of England rector, Dr. Nowell, forgot a bottle filled with home-brewed ale at the river bank. Upon his return, he found his bottle, open it, and enjoyed the gun-like sound it emitted. The ale had fermented, and thus bottled beer was born!
Whether you call it a beer cozy, koozie, drink huggie, or a drink snuggie, the koozie is a strong part of our drink culture. Australians made the original koozie in the 1970’s and called them “stubby holders.”
Can you imagine fishing trips and picnics without coolers? Thankfully, this alternative to the metal ice box saw it’s first vacation in 1957.
Sam Foster sold his first pair on the Boardwalk of Atlantic City, New Jersey, back in 1929. By 1930, they were all the rage and mass produced. He didn’t even need a Facebook or Instagram account!
Eugenius Birchhe designed and built the first pier in 1866. Since then–especially with the creation of bank holidays–where friends and families could take a day off to lounge by the seaside, piers have come a staple in our summer lives.
When it comes to summer’s best inventions, who can forget the fishing rod? Fishing rods can be traced all the way back to ancient China and Egypt. Today’s fishing rod designs come mostly from the 1960s and 1970s. There’s no one inventor, just thousands of people making modifications on an already essential invention.
Lieutenant Peter Halkett, an officer in the Royal Navy, designed the first inflatable boat in 1845. The Admiralty saw no use for his designs, but explorers liked it and so inflatable boats became one of the best summer inventions. Just make sure you don’t poke holes in it.
Of all the “best inventions” on this list, you’d think that the floating hammock’s inventor wanted to relax. Nothing could be further from the truth. German Bernhard Martwitz invented the first floating hammock in 1956 shortly after his daughter almost drowned in an accident in a goldfish pond. Not only did Martwitz’s invention bring him peace of mind, but it brought us peace all summer.
In Marshall, Texas, in 1948, a fisherman Thurmond Holmes invented a better version of their current boats so that they wouldn’t be pushed around by the wind. Before long, his fast, sleek boats called “Skeeters” were buzzing around rivers and lakes nationwide.
Surprisingly, kids in Germany created these over a 100 years ago. Swiss banker Wim Ouboter made the modern version of the scooter. He wanted something to help him get to his favorite sausage shop and claims that it was too close to drive to but too far to walk. That’s how I feel about my kitchen.
Norwegian seamen first created life jackets as simple blocks of wood or cork. In 808, Norwegian seaman W.H. Mallison tried to get his invention to go mainstream, but it wasn’t until 1765, nearly 1000 years later, before Dr. John Wilkinson patented the cork life jacket. In his book, Seaman’s Preservation from Shipwreck, Disease, and Other Calamities Incident to Mariners, Wilkinson described the benefits of a life jacket. People still used cork years after, including as the life preservers used on the Titanic.
Summer Inventions, and Inventions in General
They say that necessity is the mother of invention. Inventions are usually organic ideas, and a lot of times they are accidental. Sometimes inventions are modifications to an old concept, and sometimes they are new entirely. However, if this list teaches you anything, it’s that a simple idea can cause a revolution in an industry, and people may be grateful for it for generations to come.
What your “crazy idea?” Not sure it’ll catch on? It could be the next big thing, but you’ll never know unless you try.
Give your idea a chance – invest in it. Click here to contact us and we’ll help you take it from idea to Minimum Viable Product!