The Most Famous Invention from Every State
Which great American invention comes from your state?
Alabama: Windshield wipers
On a trip to New York City in 1902, Mary Anderson realized what a nuisance the falling snow was for her streetcar driver. Anderson couldn’t drive, but back home in Birmingham, she sketched up her design for windshield wipers. Don’t miss these other 16 things you didn’t know women invented.
Alaska: Ranch dressing
Plumbing contractor Steve Henson had to do double-duty working in remote Alaska by cooking for his crew in the 1950s. Spicing up buttermilk and mayonnaise with herbs, he hit on a recipe that made salads tastier. Once he and his wife moved to California, they kept serving the dressing at their new venture: Hidden Valley Ranch.
California scientist Jack Cover developed an early form of the TASER in the 1970s, but it used gunpowder for power, which made it tough to sell, and his business collapsed. Fast-forward to 1993, and two Arizona brothers reached out to Cover and asked him to help make one that could be marketed to civilians as self-protection. Cover agreed and developed a device that used compressed air instead of gunpowder. In 1994, the Scottsdale, Arizona, company started selling the Air TASER. Make sure you know these 50 weird things that are banned in the United States.
In the 1950s, Sam Walton opened a five-and-dime in Newport, Arkansas. When that business went well, Walton took it a step further and opened his first Walmart in Rogers, Arkansas, in 1962, with the goal of attracting customers with low prices.
Nevada tailor Jacob Davis was having trouble perfecting his invention of rivet-fastened canvas pants for miners, so he reached out to Levi Strauss, who was running a dry-goods store in San Francisco. Davis moved to California to become Strauss’s business partner, and the two patented their design, which would eventually focus on its denim trousers.
When a friend of general practitioner Dr. Earle Haas mentioned she controlled her period flow with an intra-vaginal sponge, the doctor decided to come up with an easier solution. He created a compressed-cotton instrument, complete with a paper tube applicator. Combining the terms “tampon” and “vaginal packs,” he marketed his patented product as Tampax in 1933.
Connecticut: Can opener
The tin can was invented in the early 1800s, but it would take almost 50 years for Waterbury, Connecticut, native Ezra J. Warner to invent a two-blade device to open the container. Until then, foodies needed to use a chisel and hammer to get to the can’s contents. Check out these other fascinating facts about all 50 states.
In the 1930s, DuPont chemist Wallace Carothers developed the first man-made fiber. When nylon stockings were introduced to the Wilmington, Delaware, public in 1939, they sold out in three hours.
The popular sports drink wasn’t invented by a money-hungry corporation but by University of Florida scientists worried about the health effects the school’s football team’s excessive sweating. In 1965, they invented a drink to replace the players’ electrolytes, naming their product after the team: the Florida Gators.