North Carolina is home to some pretty neat inventions! From delicious soft drinks, to mini-golf, and even machine guns, this state has some outside-of-the-box thinkers. Of course ‘first in flight’ is the most famous Tar heel invention but check out these fourteen inventions to see just HOW much our great state has contributed to modern-day life.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Cheerwine, Salisbury, 1917
L.D Peeler wanted to create a new, exciting soft drink that was unique to the market. Using flavors purchased off a traveling salesman from St. Louis, Cheerwine was born in Peeler's basement. Just a few years later, this glass-bottled goodness became a fizzy NC hit.
2. Vicks VapoRub, Selma, 1890
Lunsford Richardson began working on a number of "remedies" he called Vicks. Eventually there were 21 "vicks family remedies" which included this mysterious ingredient from Japan called menthol. After Lunsford sold his drugstore to form Lunsford Richardson Wholesale Drug Company, he had trouble selling the products outside of Greensboro. His son decided to concentrate on the newly named Vicks VapoRub. And voila, a common household remedy was born.
3. Pepsi-Cola, New Bern, 1893
Originally known as "Brad's Drink" after inventor, Caleb Bradham, Pepsi-cola got its new name in 1898 from two of its ingredients pepsin and cola. Today Pepsi-Cola stands as Coca Cola's biggest soft drink rival.
4. Texas Pete, Winston-Salem, 1929
No Texas here, Texas Pete was invented in Winston-Salem by TW Garner Food Company. As operator of the Dixie Pig Barbeque Stand, Sam Garner invented Texas Pete to satisfy his customers needs for something spicier. Today, it is the third best-selling hot sauce in the United States.
5. Putt Putt Miniature Golf, Fayetteville, 1954
Founded by Don Clayton, 'Putt-Putt Fun Center' got its roots in Fayetteville and became a global phenomenon.
6. Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Winston-Salem, 1937
Vernon Rudolph had humble hopes for his small coffeehouse and doughnut shop located in Old Salem. Using a yeast-based recipe he bought off a New Orleans Chef, Vernon began to sell his doughnuts to grocery stores. Soon, Krispy Kreme was a nationally glazed sensation.
7. Universal Product Code, or Barcode, Research Triangle Park, 1969
The barcode is now globally used and known, but it started in Raleigh. George Lauer was assigned to make a universal supermarket scanner and label. The idea had been tinkered with up until this time. Yet it did not come to fruition until 1972 when IBM had Laurer present his proposal for a scanner to the Super Market Committee in Rochester, NY. The proposal was accepted and the barcode was born.
8. Another RTP invention, Ctrl+Alt+Del.
Invented by IBMer David Bradley in the Research Triangle Park, this small but serious function has been saving us all from computer-based meltdowns for quite some time.
9. The Gatling Gun, 1861
Although the Gatling Gun was invented by Richard Jordan Gatling while he was living in Indianapolis, Richard spent most of his life in Hertford County North Carolina. Richard Gatling invented the Gatling Gun, the first successful machine gun.
10. David "Carbine" Williams, firearms inventor and designer, Cumberland County
After spending time in prison for murder, David Marshall Williams, a man of tools and trades, set out to turn his inventions into reality. After visiting the War Department in Washington and proposing new, and better designs, he was contracted to modify and improve modern weapons. David is known for the semiautomatic rifle or the M1 Carbine.
11. Headache Powder
It's a statewide battle over who invented the best headache powder. For some reason, headache powder became a popular invention in the Tar heel state. BC Headache Powder was invented in 1906 in Durham by pharmacist Germain Bernard and Commodore Council. Thomas Stanback wanted in on the powder-pain relief, inventing Stanback Headache Powder in Salisbury in 1911. Next, Goody's came to be in Winston-Salem by pharmacist Martin "Goody" Goodman in 1932. Which one is your go-to?
12. Overalls, Clinton, 1859
13. 'Lady Edison' or Beaulah Louise Henry
With over 49 patents, Henry is one of the most famous women inventors of her time. Her inventions include toys, bobbinless sewing machine, the 'protograph' and most notably a vacuum-sealed ice cream freezer.
14. Aviation, 1903, Kitty Hawk
Which one is your favorite invention? What other Tar Heel inventions do you know about?