One of Thomas Edison’s oddest inventions was a voice-driven sewing machine operated by blowing into a mouthpiece. It never caught on.
The sandwich was supposedly invented by the Earl of Sandwich, who was so addicted to gambling that he refused to leave the table for meals, and demanded something he could eat with one hand. It caught on amongst other players, who ordered “the same as sandwich” – thus, “the sandwich”.
The chicken nugget was invented by a Cornell University food science professor, who published the results academically instead of patenting them.
The rotary phone was invented by an undertaker. The operator in his hometown was married to his competition, so the rotary dial was a way to bypass the human operator.
Northern Paper Company offered the first splinter-free toilet paper in the early 1930s.
Starting in 1910, a series of books were published featuring a fictional boy-inventor by the name of Tom Swift. One of these books was titled “Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle.” Many years later, this led to the naming of the TASER that police now carry: “Tom A. Swift Electric Rifle”.
In 1898 Nikola Tesla once tricked an entire crowd into believing they could control a toy boat by shouting commands – he had in fact invented Radio Control and was piloting the boat himself.
The inventor of Vaseline was such a firm believer in its medicinal properties that he claimed to have eaten a spoonful of it a day; During a bout of pleurisy in his 50s, he ordered his nurse to cover him from head to toe in the substance, and soon recovered. He lived to be 94.
The inventor of the windshield wiper Mary Anderson was granted a patent for it in 1903, she tried to sell the rights in 1905 and was told that it held no commercial value and was unable to sell it. 19 years later, they became standard equipment on every vehicle.