Making it count
Believe it or not, canned foods weren’t always found in nearly every household’s pantry. When Napoleon and his army marched across Europe, they needed to find a way to deliver enough quality foods to the front line.
In 1809, the French government actually held a contest to solve the problem, and the prize was 12,000 francs. The contest was won by Nicolas Appert, who designed a sealed glass jar that could be produced in large numbers at factories. Appert built a factory for just that, but the British ended up burning it down when they stampeded through France in 1814.
During World War I, a young sailor named Walter Yeo was horribly injured in the 1916 Battle of Jutland. Both of his upper and lower eyelids were burned completely off of his face.
A year later he found himself in an injury ward that happened to be started by the father of modern plastic surgery: Harry Gillies. The New Zealand native performed the world’s first plastic surgery when he grafted a flap of skin over his wounds. It might not have looked that pretty, but it was a start.
An American manufacturing firm by the name of Kimberly-Clark had a trademark for Cellucotton before World War I. When all the fighting was going on in Europe, the U.S. Army gave out the incredibly absorbent fabric to use as gauze to dress wounds.
Nurses at hospitals would soon adopt the fabrics for menstrual hygiene, and they ended up being used for everything. In 1920, Kimberly-Clark shipped Kotex, a neologism, to stores across the country.
War isn’t always negative. Without it, we might not have these products we use every day!