Look – it’s Tuesday! I totally missed that, what with the holiday (well it was for me, did you thank a Vet this weekend?) and the long weekend I took…ahem. No excuse. None. But I do have a list of ten for everyone.
10 Famous Firsts that debuted at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 (otherwise known as the Colombian Exposition (which happened to be in Chicago) of 1893). Many of these are from The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Eric Larson, a great book (if you skim the boring menu parts) about serial killers, grand designs, and great Victorian history.
- Ferris Wheel – George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. had the idea while the Fair’s committee searched for something to rival the Eiffel Tower showcased at the Paris Fair. He was laughed at, ridiculed, told it couldn’t happen, and made a ton of money off it.
- Juicy Fruit Gum – It was a huge hit, and profits certainly have decreased in the ensuing century.
- Aunt Jemima’s pancake mix – an all-in-one pancake mix for those busy Victorian women.
- Cracker Jack – originally called ‘Candied Popcorn and Peanuts’, it was a mixture of popcorn, molasses, and peanuts.
- Cream of Wheat – invented by wheat millers in Grand Forks, ND, where a warm breakfast seems to be a necessity.
- Quaker Oats – despite that huge lawsuit, still going strong and tasty, and still based in Chicago.
- Shredded Wheat – it wasn’t expected to take off, for who would want what that was shredded? Guess those fair-goers didn’t know anything.
- Pabst Blue Ribbon – actually it was just Pabst, but since it won the blue ribbon at the fair, was forever known as Pabst Blue Ribbon.
- Elongated coins – those 51¢ pennies with a neat design on both sides? Yeah, they debuted here, too.
- Vertical File – No, not food, which seemed to be the big thing to debut at the fair, but pretty darn important. Melvil Dewey (the guy who invented the ambiguous Dewey Decimal System) invented it.