Baptism of fire: 10 products that exist in virtue of wars…



A lot of everyday products and inventions we are using could reach the market only because of wars and armed disputes and had great sale volumes exactly thanks to army`s orders. Kengarex has collected 10 examples of products and tech-inventions that became popular after being tested by soldiers and military departments.


Catherine Hettinger from Orlando has invented toys-spinners to reconcile relations between Israelis and Palestinians when visiting sister in Israel almost 30 years ago. She saw Palestinian children throwing rocks at American soldiers and thought of the way how to distract them, and made a gyroscope.
The first time the invention was offered for sale in 1993 but become super-popular only in 2017 when the patent ownership of Hettinger had expired. Now spinners do not bring any profit to the woman.



Insulating tape.
Tape made out of thick cloth was used to isolate cables and to fix different things and objects at the beginning of 20th century, often they were oiled or sewed to the clothes. Gluey from one side tapes appeared in 1910, the gluey side usually was smeared with rosin. In 1923 employee of American company 3M Richard Gurley Drew came up with the solution how to make the tape not only gluey but also easily removable. Within two years he was the one who invented ordinary scotch – transparent gluey tape which was often used during the Great Depression to fix instruments, housewares, etc.
The idea of tape to be waterproof and more user-friendly was offered in 1943 by mother of two sailors, fabric worker, where weapons for the front were produced. She wrote a letter to president Roosevelt. Roosevelt forwarded mothers wish to Johnson&Johnson, back then the company was producing plasters as gluey tapes. There was developed a product that now is known as insulating tape – gluey, plastic, firm tape that is easily applied and removed. During the war, it was supplied to the front and after it was sold in household shops.


Fanta recipe was developed in Nazi Germany due to coke syrup embargo. The head of Coca-Cola Deutschland Max Keith invented a new drink by mixing available during that time ingredients in the state – whey and apple press-cake, leftover products after making a cheese and cider. The name of the product originates from the word “fantasy” (Fantasie in German). In 1955 Coca-Cola made Fanta as one of the official drinks and started to sell it all over the world.


Candies M&M`s
Forrest Mars, sun of the Mars Incorporated company`s founder, stole M&Ms candies` recipe in Spain during the civil war. He spotted soldiers who ate pieces of glazed chocolate under steaming sun. The Glaze protected chocolate preventing it from melting. According to the legend after this, Mars came back home and re-created dragee chocolate recipe. During the Second World War M&M`s sales peaked becoming integral part of American soldiers` ration, who often had to be in hot climate.
By the way, together with Mars in the same trip was Joseph Rowntree, who has founded Rowntree’s company, which later was bought by Nestlé. He has invented very similar to M&M`s candies Smarties, which soon became popular outside US.


Disposable Safety razors Gillette
King Camp Gillette invented new safe razor in 1903. In the same time, he introduced business – model “give buyer the razor again and again”. The first issue of the product failed – customers considered price too high, and Gillette competitors copied his design and offered their products seemingly lower.
In 10 years Gillette woke up rich anyway, when sealing contract for 3,5 safety razors delivery and 32 million changeable razors for American soldiers during the First World War. In one night it became essential part of man`s hygienic kit, same as toothbrush and soap.


Superglue Super Glue was accidentally invented by chemist Harry Coover when he was trying to invent transparent plastic for producing optical sight for guns.
Chemical composition he has used glued components so firmly it was impossible to pull them apart. For some time the glue was forgotten as it was de trop and, therefore, went for sale only in 1958. It happened few years later after American researchers were searching for heat-resistant coating for fighter cockpit, they discovered again the ability of the Cyanoacrylate (main component of the superglue) glue surfaces together.


Instant coffee Nescafé
During the Great Depression Brasilia faced a problem producing green coffee, there was no place to store it and impossible to manufacture as necessary technologies were not invented back then.
Brazilian coffee institute asked Nestlé company’s help- it took 8 years to invent new product, and in 1938 Nestlé in the first time started to sell in the Swiss town Vevey. But true popularity was gained after the Second World War as the American soldiers loved it so much all the production of Nestlé`s factory was shipped for army`s needs.


Ball pen
Hungarian journalist and painter László Bíró invented the ball pen in 1931 after he saw in printing office quick-drying ink. With the help of his brother scientist György in 7 years he received the patent for his invention that gained popularity among British military pilots.
One of the first Bíró`s customers was Royal Air Forces of the Great Britain, who ordered 30 000 pens for pilots, who`s ordinary feather pens leaked constantly due to abrupt pressure diminution when gaining height.

Microwave oven
During the Second World War, American and British military invented the magnetron – a device generating high-frequency radiation to improve radio broadcasting and radiolocation intelligence. Magnetron`s capacity was sufficient to install in planes, and due to its accuracy, it was applicable to use for target bombardment of towns.
The ability of microwaves heat food was discovered accidently after the war in 1945. American engineer of the Raytheon company Percy Spencer was producing equipment for radars, during experiments with the Magnetron he realized once that radar waves melted candy in his pocket.
In 1947 Raytheon made the first microwave oven Radarange, which was used in military canteens and canteens of military hospitals.


Beginning with 1930-ies for navy and air navigation army used ground radio systems but during the Second World War it became clear that ground antennas and command centers are very vulnerable for the enemy attacks. In 1960-ies USA Navy started to use GPS prototype, “Transit” system for missile submarines “Polaris”. Later it became mandatory for all military.
NATO showed their interest for this technology and transformed “Transit” into broadened navigation system Navstar GPS. It`s analogue now is used not only by ordinary users to find necessary location but also by scientists to track wild animals and air traffic controllers to ensure flight safety.