Philadelphians are a creative group of people! We’ve invented so many things – like the cheesesteak and the lightning rod – as well as countless others we didn’t invent, but managed to perfect – like the soft pretzel and city-wide specials. Here are a couple of things that came from Philadelphia that often get overlooked, though they might just be the city’s crowning achievements.
Carbonated water was all the rage in the 1800s, when it was thought to be full of health benefits. In order to make the taste more palatable, a Philadelphia druggist named Townsend Speakman added fruit flavoring in 1807, and thus soda was born.
2. Root Beer Floats
It's only fitting that the Root Beer Float was invented at the Franklin Institute. A Philadelphia man named Robert Green was serving drinks made with soda and cream at the Institute's semi-centennial celebration in 1874. When he ran out of cream, he began using ice cream - the drinks were a huge hit!
The Slinky was an accidental invention. A young engineer named Richard Thompson James was working at William Cramp & Sons shipyard when he knocked over a box of random parts. One spring walked across his desk and down a stack of books onto the floor. He spent a year perfecting his new toy invention, and by 1944, the Slinky was a sensation!
4. Peanut Chews
Peanut Chews were originally created as a high-energy snack for soldiers, all the way back in 1917. They were a hit, and Goldenberg's Peanut Chews hit the shelves in 1921. Harry Goldenberg had no idea that this tasty, salty, dark chocolate candy would become one of Philadelphia's favorite treats!
5. Bubble Gum
In 1928, a young accountant at the Fleer Chewing Gum Company was playing with formulas and created a super stretchy gum. Walter E. Diemer had unknowingly invented bubble gum! The company named it Dubble Bubble, and Diemer had to teach store clerks how to blow bubbles in order to sell the pink candy.
6. Revolving Doors
In 1888, a Philadelphia man named Theophilus van Kannel patented a revolving door, said to be a way to cut down drafts. Rumor has it, he was just sick of holding the door for women. Regardless of the reason for the invention, revolving doors are now very much a part of everyday life.
7. The Hoagie
There are a few different explanations for the name "hoagie," but the most common is that when Italian workers at Hog Island (now the Navy Yard) began bringing these sandwiches to work, their coworkers tried them and started asking for extras. Because these workers were called "hoggies," the name transferred to the sandwich, as well.
Monopoly was created by a Germantown man named Charles Darrow, who had played a similar game called Landlord's Game, which had been invented by Lizzie Magie in 1924. The game became popular and the names for each space were quickly dubbed with Atlantic City street names. Darrow began printing the game and began selling them at Wanamaker's in 1934. Parker Brothers bought the game a few years later.
9. Candy Corn
Whether you love it or hate it, you can thank Philadelphian George Renninger and the Wunderle Candy Company for this strangely addicting treat. It was invented in the 1880s, and has been a fixture of Halloween candy dishes ever since.
What’s your favorite Philly treat? While we may not have invented all of the best foods in the world, we’ve certainly perfected plenty of them! Check out our list of
14 Philadelphia Staples You Should Have Tried By Now and get to work trying all of the best Philadelphia foods.
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