1. Swim fins: Swim fins, also known as swimfins, fins, or flippers, are blade-shaped extensions worn on feet or hands for use in water. They aid movement in aquatic sports such as swimming, surfing, and underwater diving. Swim fins are typically made of rubber or plastic. Benjamin Franklin invented wooden swim fins in 1717.
2. Mail order: A mail-order catalog is a publication containing a list of general merchandise from a company. Those who publish and operate mail-order catalogs are referred to as catalogers within the industry, who also buy or manufacture goods and then market those goods to prospective customers. Mail ordering uses the postal system for soliciting and delivering goods. According to The National Mail Order Association, Benjamin Franklin invented and conceptualized mail order cataloging in 1744. I have to wonder if he ever thought what mail order would become with the internet! Just look at Pet Supermarket or Amazon.com!
3. Cupcake: A cupcake, fairy cake, patty cake or cup cake is a small cake designed to serve one person, frequently baked in a small, thin paper or aluminum cup. As with larger cakes, frosting and other cake decorations, such as sprinkles, are common on cupcakes. The earliest reference of cupcakes can be traced as far back as 1796, when a recipe notation of "a cake to be baked in small cups" was written in American Cookery by Amelia Simms.
4. Doughnut (ring-shaped): A doughnut or donut, is a type of fried dough food popular in many countries and prepared in various forms as a sweet (or occasionally savory) snack that can be homemade or purchased in bakeries, supermarkets, food stalls, and franchised specialty outlets. They are usually sweet, deep-fried from a flour dough, and shaped in rings or flattened spheres that sometimes contain fillings. The doughnut has a long history, supposedly a Dutch creation exported to New Amsterdam (present-day New York City) in the 1600s under the Dutch name of olykoeks--"oily cakes." However, the ring-shaped doughnut with a "hole" in the center is thought to be an American creation, supposedly invented in 1847 by Captain Hanson Gregory of Clam Cove, Maine.
5. Calliope: Also known as a steam organ or steam piano, a calliope is a musical instrument that produces sound by sending a gas, originally steam or more recently compressed air, through large whistles, originally locomotive whistles. It was often played on riverboats and in circuses, where it was sometimes mounted on a carved, painted and gilded horse-drawn wagon in a circus parade. The calliope was invented in 1855 by Joshua C. Stoddard of Worcester, Massachusetts.
6. Postcard: A postcard or post card is a rectangular piece of material, such as paper, leather or other materials, intended for writing and mailing without an envelope. "Postal card" is the term used for a post card issued by a postal authority, generally with postage prepaid. The post card was invented by John P. Charlton of Philadelphia in 1861 for which he obtained the copyright later transferred to Hymen Lipman. The cards were adorned with a small border and labeled "Lipman's Postal Card, Patent Applied For." and later "COPY-RIGHT SECURED 1861." They were on the market until 1873 when the first United States issued postcards appeared.
7. Paper bag: A bag is a non-rigid or semi-rigid container usually made of paper which is used to hold items or packages. In 1868, Margaret E. Knight while living in Springfield, Massachusetts invented a machine that folded and glued paper to form the brown paper bags familiar to what shoppers know and use today. Paper Bags, if you can get them, are popular cat toy. My bean is into the "green" thing though with recycle bags, so no paper bags for me!
8. Spork: A spork or a foon is a hybrid form of cutlery taking the form of a spoon-like shallow scoop with three or four fork tines. The spork is a portmanteau word combining spoon and fork. The spork was invented in 1874 by Samuel W. Francis. U.S. patent #147,119 was filed on January 22, 1874 and issued to Francis on February 3, 1874. Not sure this inventions Americans can be proud of...
9. Skyscraper: A skyscraper is a tall building that uses a steel-frame construction. After the Great Fire of 1871, Chicago had become a magnet for daring experiments in architecture as one of those was the birth of the skyscraper. The edifice known as the world's first skyscraper was the 10-story Home Insurance Company Building built in 1884. It was designed by the Massachusetts-born architect William Le Baron Jenney.
10. Vacuum cleaner: (a.k.a. sucky monster or bane of feline existance) A vacuum cleaner uses a partial vacuum to suck up dust and dirt, usually from floors. Daniel Hess of West Union, Iowa, invented the first vacuum cleaner in 1860. Calling it a carpet sweeper instead of a vacuum cleaner, his machine did, in fact, have a rotating brush like a traditional vacuum cleaner which also possessed an elaborate bellows mechanism on top of the body to generate suction of dust and dirt. Hess received a patent (U.S. patent #29,077) for his invention of the first vacuum cleaner on July 10, 1860. Despite credit usually going to English inventor Hubert Cecil Booth for inventing the first electric vacuum cleaner in 1901, his vacuum was actually predated two years by an American, John Thurman of St. Louis, Missouri, who invented the motorized vacuum cleaner in 1899. However, neither were practical or useful. The first practical and portable vacuum cleaner was built in 1907, when James Murray Spangler, a janitor from Canton, Ohio, incorporated a rotating brush, an electric fan, a box, and one of his wife's pillowcases to serve as the dust bag. Needless to say, this was also first time cat hide under bed to escape the sucky monster.
11. Ferris wheel: If you go to Carnival of Cats this weekend, you might take a ride on Mr. Ferris' Wheel! The Ferris wheel is a non-building structure, consisting of an upright wheel with passenger gondolas attached to the rim. Opened on June 21, 1893 at the Chicago World's Fair, the Ferris wheel was invented two years earlier by the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania bridge-builder George Washington Gale Ferris in 1891.
12: Zipper: The zipper is a popular device for temporarily joining two edges of fabric. Zippers are found on trousers, jeans, jackets, and luggage. Whitcomb L. Judson was an American mechanical engineer from Chicago who was the first to invent, conceive of the idea, and to construct a workable zipper. Using a hook-and-eye device, Judson intended for this earliest form of the zipper to be used on shoes. He also conceived the idea of the slide fastener mechanism in conjunction with the invention of the zipper. Patents were issued to Judson for the zipper in 1891, 1894, and 1905.
13: Mousetrap: A mousetrap is a specialized type of animal trap designed primarily to catch mice. However, it may also trap other small animals. Mousetraps are usually set in an indoor location where there is a suspected infestation of rodents. The first mouse trap was invented by William C. Hooker of Abingdon, Illinois, exactly three years before James Henry Atkinson developed a prototype called the "Little Nipper", who Atkinson himself probably saw the Hooker trap in shops or in advertisements, thus copying it as the basis for his own model. Hooker received US patent #528671 for his invention, the mousetrap, in 1894. Since then, humans have been trying to build better one, although best mouse trap of all, still and always has been, cat.
There are, of course, many more. Maybe next week I share another 13 with you.