How well do you know the common home products that you regularly use? It’s easy to take for granted things like dish soap, garbage bags, and our TV sets without realizing how new many of these household products really are.
Even behind the most mundane of objects there really can be a fascinating story. Many of the household cleaners and other products we use today were invented to solve a problem that humans have been dealing with for the entirety of civilization and even before that.
Are you ready to learn some surprising facts about the products in your home?
Let’s take a look at ten household objects that have a lot more going on behind the scenes than you would probably imagine!
1. The Rubik’s Cube Was Originally Called the Magic Cube
Did you know that the Rubik’s Cube was invented in Hungary and was originally called the Magic Cube? Since 1980, 350 million of these three-dimensional puzzles have been sold. That’s 35 times the population of Hungary!
The popularity of Rubik’s Cubes peaked in the 1980s, but they are still widely used and known. People even compete to see who can complete the puzzle the fastest, with the world record being held by Yusheng Du who completed the Rubik’s Cube in an incredible 3.47 seconds.
2. Joy Dish Detergent Was the First Nationally Marketed Dish Soap
In 1949, Joy dish soap was introduced to the market as the first dish soap that was marketed nationally. This was one of the first household cleaners to include lemon fragrance and had an impact on the trend toward cleaning products that are citrus scented. The original packaging was designed by a man named Donald Deckey,
3. Coca-Cola Was Invented By a Pharmacist
In 1886, John Stith Pemberton invented what would become one of the most famous beverages in the world, Coca-Cola.
He created an early version of this soda after he was wounded during the Civil War and developed a morphine addiction. This led him to experiment with various toxins and painkillers, eventually creating the recipe that would later be adapted to make this world-famous drink. His original formula included cocaine in the form of coca leaf extract, which was a legal and common ingredient in medicines at the time.
4. The Man Who Invented the Television Wouldn’t Let His Own Children Watch TV
If you’ve ever wondered if the world would be better off without television, it’s worth knowing that the person who invented the television wouldn’t even allow his own children to watch it. He states that he didn’t want television in his household’s “intellectual diet” and that “there’s nothing on [TV] worthwhile.”
This man was Philo T Farnsworth. He created the first functional all-electronic image pick-up device in 1927 for which is best known, although he made many contributions to the world of early all-electronic television.
5. One Person Will Use 384 Trees Worth of Toilet Paper in Their Lifetime
If you’ve never wondered how many trees it takes to produce the toilet paper you use, you’ll be glad to know that we’ve got the answer for you. In the average lifetime, an American will use 384 trees worth of toilet paper. Incredibly, the United States is estimated to use 20% of all the toilet paper that is used in the world.
6. Trash Bags Weren’t Invented Until After World War II
There are certain household products that it’s easy to forget are fairly new as a part of our culture. Trash bags is one of these products. They weren’t created until 1950 when a Canadian man named Harry Wasylyk was experimenting with a new material known as polyethylene.
Before the invention of trash bags, there were a number of different ways that people dealt with trash. This includes feeding it to farm animals, burying it, and burning it.
While humans have always produced waste, the nature of waste has changed over the millennia. When humans were nomadic and lived in small groups, the garbage they produced would simply be thrown on the land. This wouldn’t create any issues for them as they didn’t stay in one place for too long.
In early civilizations, garbage was dealt with in a variety of ways. This includes being thrown in the rivers or roadways, or even being left on the floor of their home.
The first known dump-style area for garbage was in Greece around 500 B.C. A law had been established that required waste be thrown away at least one mile from the walls of the cities. It also became illegal to dispose of garbage in the streets.
Civilization became denser during the Middle Ages. At this time in some places, pigs would freely walk down the street and consume the garbage left there.
The first garbage collection service was started by Benjamin Franklin in the late 1700s in addition to a street cleaning service. People had been burying their garbage in their backyard, finding this to be preferable to putting garbage in the street.
7. The Ancient Version of Soap Was a Mixture of Ash and Animal Fat
Once you start looking into the history of soap you realize that there is an entire fascinating world that you never knew about. As far back as 2800 BC, Babylonians made soap by boiling fats with ashes. It’s also known that the ancient Egyptians mixed vegetable and animals oils with alkaline salts in order to create a soap-like product.
The Phoenicians were also known to mix fat in the form of goat tallow and wood ashes to make soap, according to Pliny the Elder. Celts made a product called saipo out of plant ashes and animal fats, and it’s from their name for the cleaning product that the term “soap” derives.
8. The First Computer Weighed 29,000 Pounds
The first commercial computer that gained widespread attention from the public was called the Univac 1. These computers were used for a lot of different reasons but the major customers were the US military, insurance companies, and utility companies.
This impressive machine weighed a whopping 29,000 pounds. It’s pretty crazy to realize just how far computers have come since 1951, with it becoming increasingly common for people to be walking around with mini-computers in the form of the smartphone everywhere they go.
9. People Got Pretty Creative With Diaper Materials in the Past
In homes with children, diapers are one of those household products that you typically never consider the history of. While some people use cloth diapers rather than disposable diapers, you’ll never guess the other materials that have been historically used for this purpose.
People throughout history would use a wide variety of things to act as diapers. These include moss, animal skins, leaves, and linens. In other cultures, babies wouldn’t wear diapers at all as it was custom for them to be mostly naked.
10. The First Known Use of Sponges For Hygiene Dates Back to Ancient Greece
It is known that Olympic game competitors in ancient Greece would bathe themselves using sea sponges that were soaked in perfume or olive oil. It is even mentioned in the Odyssey, with the god Hephaestus cleaning his chest, face, and hands using a sea sponge.
Both Plato and Aristotle mentioned sea sponges in both historic and scientific contexts in their writing. In Ancient Rome, it was thought that sponges had therapeutic properties which led them to be used in medicine for treating disease and cleaning wounds on top of being used for hygiene.
Sponges even show up in the New Testament of the Bible. In this story, a Roman soldier offers Christ a vinegar-soaked sponge on the tip of his staff or spear during the crucifixion.
These days, most sponges are made with synthetic materials. This became possible after polyester was invented in 1941 and polyurethane foam started being commercially produced in 1952.
Who Would Have Thought Common Home Products Could Be So Interesting?
As you can see, common home products that you would think of as mundane can actually be quite fascinating. There is something so cool about diving into the history of human inventions and how people have solved important household problems over the last hundreds and thousands of years. From how they disposed of garbage to how they cleaned their clothes, the history of household products is actually a window into the innovation and blunders of humanity throughout time.
Did you find this article filled with surprising facts about home products interesting? If so, be sure to check out the rest of our blog for more awesome content!