Sometimes on the way to your dream,

you get lost and find a better one.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

fun facts from the sunday paper

Most of these words are copied directly from the newspaper article.

Top Five Food Inventions

1. The fridge has been around quite a bit longer than you may think.
It was in 1748 that the first method of refrigeration was invented.
(cooling air by the evaporation of liquids in a vacuum)
After various rebirths, the first commercial refrigerator was designed and sold by the General Electric Company in 1911.

The box on the left is an ice chest, some of these had a lift-up door on the top instead of in the front. This section held a giant block of ice, delivered weekly, by the Ice Man, on his horse drawn cart. The ice was brought into the house by a huge pair of tongs which chipped the ice as it was lifted and kids (me) would grab the chips to suck on hot days. On the right is a later model, a one door fridge, with a tiny freezer section on the inside.

2. The microwave oven was invented as an accidental by-product of the research going on during World War 2 into radars using magnetrons.
We have a melted chocolate bar to thank for this discovery.

In 1946, engineer Dr Percy LeBaron Spencer found a candy bar in his pocket had melted and realised it was the microwaves he was working with that had caused it.
(funny, I find chocolate bars kept in my pockets melt without the need for microwaves...)
3. The tin can used for storing food was invented in 1810 by Englishman Peter Durand.

Remarkably, the can opener wasn't invented for another fifty years.
The can opener was invented in 1858 by American Ezra Warner, and used a lever and a chisel.
Unil then, cans were opened using a hammer and a chisel.
(sounds like a messy business to me...)

See the can opener in this picture below? That's the type we had through all my growing up years. We held the can at the top, pierced the lid with the point of that thing, then levered our way around the can. Carefully. One slip caused a cut in the soft section between finger and thumb. The opening of the can and the rim of the lid had a jagged edge after opening with one of these.

4. Barcodes - or Universal Product Codes - contain coded information and are scanned by laser beams.
Norman Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver are credited as its inventors in 1948, but they didn't enter our supermarkets until the early 1970's.

(When taking a product off the shelf and eating it or giving some to a child to eat while doing the aisles rounds, please don't tear the barcode, then we can still scan the packaging...)

5. The Slap Chop.
Don't you love the "Slap Chop" man from TV?
Invented this century, (umm, last century?), it claims it can chop almost everything, all with the slap of the wrist. Brilliance. (their word not mine)

And here he is, Mr Slap Chop himself!

Have you enjoyed this little time travel trip?
Leave me a comment.....


  1. No mention of the gas fridge. Using the heat from flame to cool things is challenging to the mind. I remember tiny freezers that could hold one ice tray and one brick of ice cream, but maybe had a meat tray below, which also froze meat I think.

    My work bag is quite good at melting chocolate.

    How many injuries were prevented by the can opener where you rotated the handle.

    I use a similar device as the Slap Chopper to chop onions. I don't cry as much.

  2. I find that chocolate doesn't last long enough to melt - and if it melts in my pocket, I just didn't know it was there!!

    I've got the scars from those deadly can openers ... but still keep one for when the safer ones don't work!!

  3. I'm rather embarrassed that I was alive when microwave ovens first came out as did the PC! Makes me feel a bit old. Hah just leave your chocolate on the bench this week, it's over 40 every day.

  4. I believe the mobile phone was invented in the 1940's but no infrastructure or computer chips were around to support the it until now :-).

  5. I remember my friend getting a microwave in 1984 and we'd have ham and cheese 'yumbos' in a hot dog roll - we thought it was very, sophisticated.

    I'm prouder to admit that I've never seen or heard of the Slap Chop man!

  6. Andrew; I completely forgot about gas fridges, kerosene fridges too. They weren't mentioned in the newspaper article either. I remember those tiny freezers, they developed thick layers of frost that had to be defrosted weekly if you wanted room for your brick of icecream. I have swimming goggles for chopping onions, but they're not prescription so I can't properly see what I'm doing.

    Red Nomad OZ; my dad had several scars from those can openers too. I have only one. After that incident I wrapped my holding hand in a teatowel before opening the cans.

    Baino; no need to be embarrassed. There are so many new discoveries happening all the time, we can all make that claim about something. I remember planes being a novelty sight; we'd hear one coming and the whole neighbourhood would rush outside to see it.
    Plus, there's nothing at all embarrassing about growing older. After all, we're all doing it.

    Windsmoke; really? Mobile phones in the 40's? I didn't know that.

    Kath; oh my goodness! I'd totally forgotten about ham and cheese yumbos! (now I want one). We loved them, but didn't have a microwave until the 90's so made ours in the oven. We used large hamburger buns, wrapped them in foil so they wouldn't burn. You've probably seen something similar to the slap chopper, an Aussie version maybe, shown on daytime TV by one of our gadget men.

  7. Oh god, I hadn't heard of the Slap Chop man but he looks suspiciously like the Sham Wow man.

    It's always a nice reminder of our modern conveniences when you go camping or rent a little chalet somewhere and have to use one of those old can openers ;)