When we hear the word “inventor,” we think of people like Thomas Edison or the Wright Brothers.
Some of the coolest inventors, though, are people you probably don’t know. They didn’t invent planes or light bulbs; these people created products used so often, you probably didn’t even realize they were inventions.
For instance, have you ever wondered how a lollipop ended up on its stick? Or how the straw became bendable? These seemingly simple ideas took a lot of creativity and technological prowess.
1959: A picnic lunch inspired Ernie Fraze to invent the pop top found on soda cans.
Whose idea: Ernie Fraze
The inspiration: Fraze, the owner of a successful engineering company, was attending a picnic when he realized he’d forgotten to bring a can opener for the drinks. He ended up prying them open using a car bumper! A few months later, he was having trouble sleeping and thought of the can dilemma. While waiting to get tired, he decided to solve it.
What came of it: Fraze designed a new kind of can, often referred to as a pop top, that could be easily opened with a removable tab. Eventually, his company began manufacturing a system of mass producing these cans to be used by soft drink and brewing companies everywhere. By 1980, Fraze’s company was pulling in over $500 million dollars of annual revenue from his brilliant invention. Anytime you open a can of beer or a soft drink, you can thank Ernie Fraze for how easy it is to do.