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Mighty Midget Inventors
Part Two: More Inventing Stories for Midget Inventors
How inventors think up their inventions -  mighty midget inventors
Various writing instrument inventions
 
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Silly Putty was discovered accidentally when the General Electric Company attempted to find a substitute for rubber during World War II. Over 200 million plastic eggs, containing 3,000 tons of Silly Putty, have been sold since 1949.

Mr. Potato Head was the first toy to be advertised on television. In 1985, he received four write-in votes in the mayoral election in Boise, Idaho.

Johnny Gruelle, an illustrator and cartoonist, created the character of Raggedy Ann during his only daughter Marcella’s lengthy illness. He painted a new face on an old rag doll that Marcella discovered in her grandmother’s attic, and named the doll "Raggedy Ann" after two poems by his friend James Whitcomb Riley, "The Raggedy Man" and "Orphan Annie." Gruelle told stories of Raggedy Ann’s adventures to entertain his daughter. 

After Marcella’s death in 1916, Gruelle wrote, illustrated, and  published the stories as 25-book series. In 1918, he began making dolls to sell as storybook companions. Many different manufacturers have made the dolls based on Gruelle’s 1915 patented design with subtle variations in face and dress, but the license is still owned by the Gruelle family.

Mickey Mouse’s image is the most reproduced in the world. Over 7,500 items bear his likeness. Jesus is number two, and Elvis is number three.

Chester Greenwood was born in Farmington, Maine in 1858. A grammar school dropout, he invented earmuffs at the age of 15. While testing a new pair of ice skates, he grew frustrated at trying to protect his ears from the bitter cold. After wrapping his head in a scarf, which was too bulky and itchy, he made two ear-shaped loops from wire and asked his grandmother to sew fur on them. He patented an improved model with a steel band which held them in place and with Greenwood’s Champion Ear Protectors, he established Greenwood’s Ear Protector Factory. He made a fortune supplying Ear Protectors to U.S. soldiers during World War I. He went on to patent more than 10 other inventions. In 1977, Maine’s legislature declared December 21 "Chester Greenwood Day" to honor a native son and his contribution to cold weather protection.

In 1850, the California gold rush was in full swing, and everyday items were in short supply. Levi Strauss, a 20-year-old Bavarian immigrant, left New York for San Francisco with a small supply of dry goods. Shortly after his arrival, a prospector wanted to know what Mr. Strauss was selling. When Strauss told him he had rough canvas to use for tents and wagon covers, the prospector said, "You should have brought pants!," saying he couldn’t find a pair of pants strong enough to last.

Strauss had the canvas made into pants. Miners liked the pants, but complained that they tended to chafe. Levi Strauss substituted a twilled cotton cloth from France called "serge de Nimes," which became known as denim. 

In 1873, Levi Strauss & Co. began using the pocket stitch design. The two-horse brand design was first used in 1886. The red tab attached to the left rear pocket was created in 1936 as a means of identifying Levi’s jeans at a distance. All are registered trademarks that are still in use.

In 1886, Atlanta pharmacist John S. Pemberton took some of his new health elixer syrup to Jacob’s Drug Store. Instead of being mixed with ice water, as he had instructed, the syrup was mixed with soda water. Pemberton and others liked the taste and he shifted his marketing strategy, encouraging the use of Coca-Cola as a drink of refreshment.

The name Coca-Cola is a combination of the names of two ingredients, the coca leaf (from South America) and the kola nut (from Africa). The name was suggested by Pemberton’s bookkeeper, Frank Robinson, who also penned the fancy script logo in 1887.

Between 1887 and 1888, the name and formula were sold three times, ending up with Asa G. Candler. He made minor changes to the formula and ensured it remained a closely guarded trade secret, as it is to this day.

Coca-Cola was first bottled in 1894. By 1914, imitation cola drinks were widespread and Candler wanted a new, distinctive bottle design to readily distinguish Coca-Cola from competitors’ cola drinks. An employee of a Terre Haute bottling plant designed the now classic bottle design in 1915. His inspiration for the fluted sides and bulging middle was the shape of the kola nut. In 1960, the bottle design was registered as a trademark with the U.S. Patent Office.

"Lesson Plans - Innovative Thinking" has more ideas on inventive thinking. 

Last midget inventor page > How did they think up that?

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