Courtesy National World War I Museum and Memorial Many new inventions, movements, and cultural advances came out of necessity, like the “grow-your-own” movement, which has had a resurgence in recent years. “In WWI, the U.S. Food Administration regulated food production to support the armed forces and allies,” says Doran Cart, Senior Curator of The National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri. “To conserve food, Americans were encouraged to be self-sustainable with practices such as growing their own food.” The regulation also lead to new initiatives like canning vegetables to preserve food, he says. “If Americans weren’t fighting for the war, they were working for the war, and growing their own food was one way to contribute,” Cart says. In today’s world, we look to grow-your-own and farm-to-table as a way to reduce food production costs, eat healthier, and support local farmers. Betcha never learned these fascinating facts about America while you were in school.
How bad is it to reuse a tissue? Doctors had that very same thought when they decided to use gas mask filters as disposable handkerchiefs after the war. “Items created for the war often had to be repurposed following the war, and one of those items is Kleenex, which was actually the crepe paper used in the filters of gas masks,” says Jonathan Casey, Director, Archives and Edward Jones Research Center, of The National World War I Museum and Memorial. “During the influenza epidemic following the war, [paper goods company] Kimberly-Clark repurposed the paper as a disposable product for people to sneeze into and limit the spread of bodily fluids.” Later given the brand name “Kleenex,” we now use the word to refer to any facial tissue. Here are more everyday items that have hidden meanings and unusual origins.