Famous Things You Didn’t Know Were Invented By Rednecks

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Introduction

In the north of the USA, ‘rednecks’ (those from the southern states) have a reputation for being boorish, racist, beer-swillin’, gun-totin’, in-bred, fervently religious, deeply conservative and not particularly intelligent types who still fly Confederate flags. Sadly, this has also fuelled international stereotypes. But is it true? Or is the South as diverse and as forward-looking with some great innovation, just as much as everyone else? Let’s take a look at some of the things invented by people from the southern USA

 

1. Filing Cabinets

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You would have thought that this method for storing paperwork was a thing that goes back to the beginning of business but no. Documents used to be stored in pigeonholes meaning that retrieval was difficult the more and more you acquired. That was until Edwin G. Seibels (a native of South Carolina) created the world’s first upright filing system with pull out drawers and box compartments. He applied for a patent but was refused on the grounds that it was an idea and not a device

2. Pimento Cheese

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People like relish and people like cheese ‘ usually putting the former on top of the latter but nobody thought to mix them in to a paste before. Nobody knows who invented it but it is agreed that it is a dish invented in the southern states. Each of the states has a slight variation on the recipe and ingredients which they claim is the original ‘ some contain a hot sauce, some have a sweet pickle. Today it is enjoyed all over the world

3. The Turtle Excluder Device

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The one device you never thought you would need may even be one of the most useful on this list. It’s true that the average person is not going to need one but it could save a lot of lives. Turtles are a threatened species and sadly, too many of them were getting caught up in fishing nets of the tropical fishing regions. Sinkey Boone, a native of Georgia, invented a device that is essentially a trapdoor allowing turtles to escape fishing nets. It’s not perfect but it is believed to have drastically reduced the number of trapped turtles

4. Liquid Paper / Tippex / Whiteout

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A single error on a page of typed notes usually meant typing over in bold script or writing out the text all over again. That was until Bette Nesmith Graham of Texas created a white quick-drying material to go over an incorrectly typed letter or word in order that the typist could write over it a minute or two later. Having a second job in producing and marketing Liquid Paper, she lost her primary job when she accidentally put her own business name on a letter header. She was fired and was able to devote her time to her product full time

5. PVC

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Though invented in 1835, nobody could find any use for it for almost a century. In 1926 Waldo Semon found a number of uses, including vinyl records, which he patented to the world. Since then the substance has been used for a great many things from clothing to pipes, electric cabling and others. Though he didn’t invent the substance, he was responsible for many items that now use it and it is one of the most popular plastics in the world. Waldo Semon hailed from Alabama

6. Dental Floss

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It is the simplest of inventions and to the modern food lover it is an essential part of manual dental care. A toothbrush cannot get between those tooth gaps and flossing is ideal for those times that you do not have a brush with you. It was invented in 1815 in New Orleans by a dentist with a definite redneck name ‘ Levi Spear Parmly but it never took off until about a century later when another New Orleans native Charles C. Bass created the nylon version we used today (Parmly’s was silk)

7. Candy Floss Machine

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Whether you call it candy floss or cotton candy, surprisingly, this machine that creates a spun sugary treat for young and old alike was also invented by a dentist. Though first invented in Europe in the 18th century, it was expensive to produce and wasn’t particularly refined. That was until William Morrison of Nashville and the confectioner John C. Wharton. They introduced it at the World’s Fair in 1904 and it quickly spread all over the world. It is now found at festivals, carnivals and circuses the world over

8. Astroturf

Astroturf

It goes by many names but what it essentially is, is the fake turf that graces many sport’s stadiums around the world. It was always more popular in the USA and in the 1990s FIFA and UEFA (the World and European governing football bodies) banned it. There has been interest to resurrect it and some surfaces are approved but so far there is no uptake. This change of attitude was mirrored in Major League Baseball and the NFL with some teams starting to explore the benefits. It was invented in North Carolina

9. Supermarkets

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From small traders to small shops and to bigger and bigger premises, the supermarket revolutionised the way we purchase every-day food items. Clarence Saunders from Virginia founded a company called Piggy Wiggly, the first self-service large shop. Before that, you had to approach the counter and ask the shopkeeper to fetch items for you and this had been the way for hundreds of years. The large open plan and prices on shelves meant that far more people could be ‘served’ at any one time

10. Shopping Trolley

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The shopping trolley or cart which is essential to the supermarket at number 9 was also invented by a redneck. Sylvan Goldman from Oklahoma invented the large bulk-carrying item in 1937 and it was based on the design of a wooden folding chair. Women found them too much like baby carriages and men felt they were effeminate. Nevertheless they caught on and were first used by Saunders’ Piggly Wiggly. Goldman also invented the modern design that we use today

 

Conclusion

Far from being the technologically backward region of the world’s largest economy, the south and southerners do not deserve the reputation that they have, particularly when you look at some of the impressive and important inventions above. Though astroturf might not affect everybody, there’s not one of us who has never used a supermarket.

 

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