Minnesota January 26, 2021
These 10 Iconic Products Define Minnesota More Than Anything Else
The Land of 10,000 Lakes is the birthplace of many large companies. Most people know about Target or 3M, but plenty of others also have Minnesota roots. They’ve produced some truly inspiring products that define Minnesota both to locals and around the world. Below, we created a list of some of Minnesota’s most iconic products. From foods to clothing to toys, each of these items helped put Minnesota on the map. If you’ve ever used any of them, you have a Minnesotan to thank!
1. Gold Medal Flour
Once upon a time, Minnesota was the
flour-milling capital of the world
. Many companies made flour in the Twin Cities and beyond. The most famous, of course, was General Mills, which is still headquartered here today. Their famous Gold Medal Flour was a hit in the 1880s, and it’s still a chosen brand today. It’s just one of the General Mills products that put Minnesota on the map.
Love it or hate it, Spam is home-grown in Minnesota. Introduced in 1937, it rose to popularity during World War II. Today, it is enjoyed all around the world. It’s still made in Austin, Minnesota, where you can visit a museum to learn all about this famous product.
3. Scotch Tape
Scotch tape was invented in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1930. A 3M engineer named Richard Drew came up with the winning product, which was later upgraded with a tape dispenser. Today, this ubiquitous product is a staple in households and businesses across the globe. The world has Minnesota to thank for this useful product!
4. Water Skis
It should come as no surprise that the Land of 10,000 Lakes is home to one or two water-based inventions. Water skis were invented on Lake Pepin in Lake City, Minnesota. In 1922, Ralph Samuelson, while holding onto a clothesline, was towed across the lake while standing on a couple of boards. Over time, the sport was refined and eventually caught on around the world. These days, the annual Water Ski Days festival honors the invention in Lake City, Minnesota.
This lifesaving invention was invented by Earl E. Bakken, a co-founder of the medical device company Medtronic. In 1957, he invented the first wearable pacemaker in a garage workshop in Minneapolis. This iconic product is a symbol of Minnesota’s many contributions to the medical community.
6. Greyhound Buses
Many people don’t realize that the famous Greyhound Lines bus company started right here in Minnesota. The first route began in Hibbing in 1914, when Carl Eric Wickman began transporting people in his seven-passenger car. Today, the company is a preferred transporter for budget-conscious travelers, with thousands of routes across North America. There’s even a
Greyhound Bus Museum
that you can visit in Hibbing!
7. Tonka Trucks
Tonka is known for the sturdy steel trucks and other vehicles that it has made for decades. The toy was invented in 1946 in Mound, Minnesota, quickly becoming popular around the world. Many other toys have been produced under the Tonka name, but the truck is by far the most famous. Many toy collectors hunt for rare vintage models!
8. Bundt Cakes
Bundt cakes can be just about any flavor or design. The one thing they all share is being made in a Bundt pan! These pans were first produced by Nordic Ware, a company based in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. Though many similar pans have been made by imitators, none can claim the Bundt name, which is trademarked by Nordic Ware. The pans, which became popular in the 1950s and 1960s, are responsible for the iconic Bundt cake, a feature of many potlucks and holiday gatherings. And it was first made right here in Minnesota!
9. Nerf Balls
Here’s another iconic toy that has Minnesota roots! In 1969, Minnesota toy creator Reyn Guyer developed a foam ball for Parker Brothers. The ball, soon known as the Nerf Ball, was a huge hit. This led to many other foam Nerf products, including the famous Nerf Gun. The product, now owned by Hasbro, will always be linked to Minnesota.
While they have come back into style in recent years, Zubaz are best remembered as the wild, often zebra-striped pants of the 1990s. But did you know they have Minnesota roots? They were invented by Minnesotans Bob Traux and Dan Stock, who wanted to create a pant that would make lifting weights more comfortable. After millions in sales, they’ve secured a place in fashion - and Minnesota - history.
Are there any other products that define Minnesota that you’d add to the list? Let us know in the comments! And if you’re curious about other great things that have happened in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, check out our past list of
12 things Minnesota was first to do.