5 Brilliant Inventions That Came Out of The Great Depression

Tampon ad. Museum of Menstruation

3. The Tampon

Yes, the modern day tampon was invented by a man. His name was Dr. Earle Haas. Haas was very connected to his wife. He felt sympathy pains for her that she could not come swimming with him during her period. He felt pads were impractical, so hee got to work on inventing something that could help.

Haas got inspired by a friend in California who used a sponge to absorb menstrual flow. Haas turned to cotton. Tamponades were a form of compressed cotton used to absorb blood during surgery and Haas thought they’d work nicely. He added an applicator and he now had a tampon.

Haas patented the device as a catamenial device (which is Greek for monthly). He eventually sold the company to Gertrude Tenderich, who founded Tampax. Tenderich then aggressively advertised the tampon as a solution for the modern woman, and the rest is history.

Later, Haas¬†went on to invent the diaphragm, making him quite the feminist. Even after all these years a scene with a tampon was deemed taboo enough to be banned from the latest version of “Fifty Shades of Grey.” We wonder what Haas would think of that.

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4. The Chocolate Chip Cookie (1933)

Ruth Graves Wakefield invented the chocolate chip cookie. There are various stories as to how she came up with it. Some say it was an accident and that she expected the chocolate to fully melt and make a chocolate cookie. Others say she cut up a chocolate bar into pieces to make it work harder for her. Either way, our mouths are thankful.

Wakefield worked as a chef at the Toll House Inn (which is how Toll House cookies got their name). She claims she invented the cookie entirely on purpose. She was looking for a substitute for a very popular butterscotch cookie so that guests of the inn could have options.

Nestle eventually bought the recipe from Wakefield and now every bag of Nestle chocolate chips sold have some variation of that recipe on the back. The cookies became the most popular item to send to soldiers in care packages during WWII.

Chocolate chip cookies are now considered the most popular cookie in the U.S. Either by accident or intentionally, Wakefield started a cookie revolution.

5. Monopoly (1935)

Board games were an incredibly popular way to pass the time during The Great Depression, as you didn’t have to go out and spend any money to be entertained. Charles Darrow patented and popularized the game Monopoly in the 1930s, but the original inventor of the game is now thought to be Lizzie Maggie, who came up with the concept under the title “The Landlord’s Game.”

Darrow, like much of America, was out of work after the stock market tanked. He saw friends and neighbors playing a homemade board game where the object of the game was to buy and sell property. Darrow partnered up with a designer and refined the look of the game. He then started to self-promote the game and sell it.

Parker Bros discovered the game through Darrow and bought it from him. They refined the look of the game even more (adding the infamous “Get Out of Jail Free” card) and began selling it. For a while, Parker Bros also offered “The Landlord’s Game,” but Monopoly proved much more popular.

Legend has it that Darrow originally played the game with a group of Quakers who were friends with his wife. They helped him write down all the rules. Darrow falsely claimed the game to be his own invention. Eventually Parker Bros paid Lizzie Maggie just $500 for the rights to the game.

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