You may never see them in the same way again
Our homes are loaded with stuff, some of which we bought with purpose, others which are more for fun or decoration, and others which slip your mind when even thinking about your stuff because we take them for granted. We think most of these things are completely normal, and today they may be, but so many household objects have strange and intriguing histories behind them.
Scroll through to see surprising stories about everyday things–you’ll look at your stuff in a completely new way!
Amy Azzarito, a design historian, explains: “This thing that we interact with every single day of our lives was once deemed immoral and unhygienic.” The fork was thought too similar to a devil’s pitchfork.
If this exercise machine feels like torture to you, you’re onto something! During the Victorian period, the "treadwheel" was used as an energy-producing form of punishment for those sentenced to perform penal labor.
High heels -
In the 15th century, heels were the shoe of choice for Persian soldiers as the sole helped them clip into their stirrups. The Persians then brought heels to Europe, where men there reportedly started wearing them because of how tall and intimidating it made them seem.
Stainless steel - We all have tons of stainless steel in our kitchens, but not many know that it was first developed in World War I, when Harry Brearly was trying to improve rifle barrels by combining iron with chromium. He quickly realized the addition of chromium made the metal rust-proof, and it soon became a domestic mainstay.
While contemporary fireplaces are mostly for design, for millennia the fireplace was an essential everyday source of both heat and light that was rarely allowed to die out, and some reportedly remained lit for generations.
It took a long time for people to warm up to the idea of baths. The ancient Greeks enjoyed rinses post-exercise, but from the 16th to 18th centuries medical experts advised against baths, believing that the soak would open the pores and allow infections in.
In Europe, early versions of plates were cut from large round loaves of whole wheat bread that were aged for a few days, then sliced into two three-inch rounds. It would not be eaten as part of the meal, but rather given to the poor, or the dogs.
Female pleasure toys -
In its early days, it was a medical device invented by male doctors who would administer it to women diagnosed with "hysteria." The treatment for the now-debunked ailment was for doctors to manually bring them to orgasm using their hands, which was evidently too exhausting.
Magnetic tape -
You may have some cherished old cassettes lying around, but the magnetic tape inside was a hot commodity when the Nazis developed it to record and rebroadcast their radio addresses. When the war ended, Allies brought the technology out of Germany and sold it commercially.
Sofas - Sofas are taken for granted in many living rooms, but after they first sprung up in Egypt, and after the Roman Empire enjoyed it and then faced collapse in the 5th century, the sofa ceased to exist for the next 1,000 years.
We now tend to have more than one clock in our homes, but in the period of time after its invention and before its widespread availability as an alarm, clock-less factory workers paid “knocker-uppers” a small fee to knock on their windows in the morning.
Nike shoes -
Bill Bowerman coached runners in the ‘70s on a slippery but hard track. One morning, when he saw his wife's waffle iron, he had an epiphany: he’d create a new kind of running shoe with a waffle-patterned sole to help runners improve speed. That waffle-inspired design kicked off the global sneaker powerhouse.
Brace yourself, because this one’s gory. Up until the 18th century, the cesarean section didn’t exist, so doctors would help difficult deliveries by taking a knife to the pelvis bone to make room for the baby. In 1780, a pair of doctors created a hand-cranked blade on a chain, which gained popularity first in bone-cutting procedures before it became popular with other materials like wood.
Bubble wrap -
The packaging staple reportedly first started out as an idea for artsy, textured wallpaper by Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes in 1957. They sandwiched two plastic shower curtains together and pushed them through a sealing machine, and three years later discovered the best use for them was not on walls or as greenhouse insulation, but as packaging wrap.
The morning breath slayer was originally developed as a surgical-grade antiseptic and was even marketed as a floor cleaner at one point.
In the 17th century, Dutch vintners would boil their wine in order to reduce its volume for transport, then cut it with water when they were ready to drink. They didn't realize, however, that transporting the concentrated mixture in wooden casks would accidentally turn it into something very different: brandy.
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