spend a lot of time on Google typing phrases like “why were …” and wait to see what Google’s autocomplete tool predicts what I was trying to learn. It’s a great tool to help me come up with stories. If I type “why do …” in Google’s search bar, who knows what the search engine will propose? (Maybe an idea for my next article)
So today, when I typed “why were…” in the search window, Google helpfully suggested, “why Cornflakes were invented?” The answer to this question was of no personal interest to me. Yet, the history bug bit me, so I decided to investigate. After following the links, I learned the shocking origins of Cornflakes — and answers to four other questions I was too afraid (or uninterested?) to ask. Here is what I learned:
1) Why were Cornflakes invented?
John Harvey Kellogg, a physician and superintendent at ra sanatorium in Battle Creek, Michigan, Kellogg believed that masturbation was abnormal and unhealthy.
He wanted to find a way to stop his patients from masturbating. He thought he could solve the problem by providing his patients a food that was healthy and deliberately bland.. He further believed that the bland Cornflakes — the cereal didn’t have sugar in those days — would curb sexual impulses and passion.
It didn’t work, but the Cornflakes caught on. According to 2018 numbers reported in Kiplinger, Kellogg’s sold 31.7 million boxes of the cereal three years ago. True to form, research from Brookings Institution indicates that we will likely see a decline in birthrates on the order of 500,000 this year.
But that’s probably because of COVID-19, not Cornflakes. Still, the people who are working from home could be using their timeouts from Zoom sessions to masturbate — you never know. Moreover, according to Planned Parenthood, a lot of people still masturbate — and it’s healthy to do so, which would have come as a big surprise to Kellogg.
2) Why were chainsaws invented?
Two Scottish surgeons created the first chainsaw in 1780 to assist in childbirth. :scream: I’m not even kidding here.
Before caesarian sections became a common practice, all babies had to pass through the birth canal. But if the baby got stuck in the pelvis, parts of the expectant mother’s bone and cartilage were removed to create space for the newborn to make its grand entrance into the world.
Previous to the invention of the chainsaw, the procedure was performed with a knife and saw. It was messy event, and it was done without anesthesia, so it was extremely painful for the woman. The chainsaw, which was run by a hand crank, made the procedure quicker and easier to perform.
If this sounds dangerous to the woman giving birth, you might be on to something. The women who underwent this surgical procedure faced high risks of infection, bladder injury and even long-term walking difficulty. You could see how weathering such a procedure could have made these mothers resentful of their newborns.
Even today, many parents feel resentment towards their newborns. In fact, an article in The Huffington Post noted that some new parents feel a sense of ‘buyer’s remorse,’ and ask themselves “Why did I get into this?” and say “My life would be so much easier without” a baby.
While may be the case, at least a surgeon didn’t put a chainsaw to your pelvis without anesthesia. That would be a true call to ask yourself “Why did I get into this?”
3) Why were Q-tips invented?
Frequently when someone innovates to create a new invention, he later realizes that new tool is better suited to solve some problem other than what he originally thought the invention would solve. For example, somewhere along the line, someone realized that it’s much more logical to use a chainsaw to chop down a tree than to assist a woman in childbirth.
But in the case of the Q-tip, this cottony tool was — is and always shall be — used to clean your ears, just like the inventor imagined. In the 1920’s, Leo Gerstenzang invented Q-tips when he saw his wife wrapping cotton around the ends of wooden stick to clean her baby’s ears. The product was originally marketed as “Baby Gays,” but Gerstenzang later changed the name to Q-Tips because he felt that name made the product more marketable.
While Gerstenzang was brilliant in coming up with the idea of Q-tips to clean his baby’s ears, I bet he never considered that it would also be great to clean the contact points of your iPhone’s charting port. But that’s not all. Apparently, Q-Tips are also essential to survival in an should the Apocalypse ever come, as I just learned. But I’m pretty confident that Joe Biden will head off any prospective Apocalypse, so you have nothing to worry about.
4) Why was marijuana made illegal?
Between 1916 and 1931, 29 states outlawed marijuana, and a 1937 law essentially banned it nationwide, according to the History.com.
But previously, in the late 19th Century, European and American physicians documented the medicinal benefits of cannabis. In those days you could have bought cannabis extracts in pharmacies and doctors’ offices to help with stomach aches, migraines, inflammation, insomnia and other ailments.
But at the turn of the century, American attitudes towards cannabis changed. Police officers in Texas claimed that marijuana incited violent crimes, aroused a lust for blood and gave users ‘superhuman strength.’ Rumors spread that Mexican immigrants were distributing ‘killer weed’ to unsuspecting American school children.
Today, marijuana is at least partially legal in 47 states, according to Rise Cannabis. And in 15 states, you can pretty much smoke a joint or chew on a ‘weed gummy bear’ whenever you like. Yet, marijuana is still a federal crime and a no-no for anyone who seeks employment with the U.S. government, whether or not you are Hispanic.
Somewhat ironically, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has encouraged federal agencies with more than 1,000 employees to conduct a “barrier analysis” on Hispanics / Latinos seeking promotions to senior ranks. That after the federal government, almost a century ago, blamed Hispanics of Mexican descent for the evils of marijuana — which none of them are allowed to smoke, if they aim to continue their employment with the federal government.
5) Why was basketball invented?
According to the Junior National Basketball League, basketball was invented in 1891 in Springfield, Mass., by James Naismith, a Canadian physical education instructor as a less injury-prone sport than football.
Back then, football players didn’t wear helmets, so it was much more dangerous to play than today. Since your run-of-the-mill basketball player doesn’t typically tackle his opponents, there was no need for basketball players to wear helmets.
Basketball also had the added benefit that it could be played indoors during the winter, whereas football could not. Originally, basketball had only 13 rules. But according to the NBA’s current rulebook, the association has lengthened the basketball rules a tad — there are now 14 rules to the game. That’s pretty good for a game that’s been dribbling on for more than 130 years.
Compare that with football, which the National Football League says has 19 rules. That may not seem like a lot, but between 1869, when the first football game was played and 1876, football had no written rules, according to Sports Attic.
Meanwhile, when I typed “why do …” into Google’s search window, all of the top 10 suggestions had to do with cats and dogs. Offerings included: “why do cats purr?,” “Why do cats knead” and “why do dogs eat poop?”
I love cats and dogs. But let’s be honest here. Learning why cats purr has no historical value, so I decided not to investigate.
When I was a kid, my mom thought that I’d have my own talk show because I was always asking people lots of questions about themselves. When I graduated college, I began living my own dream as a reporter for a news media outlet. As a journalist, I spoke daily with public affairs officers who represented diverse government and corporate clients.
I soon realized that public affairs combined the best of both worlds of journalism and television talk shows — I get to learn interesting and unusual things about people who worked with me, I then get to tell their story. With this thought in mind, I spent two years at CIA, where I was a supervisor in the Public Communications Branch at the Office of Public Affairs.
As a strategic communicator, I juggle many balls — but I’m a writer first. Writing is my first love. You can say that I’m addicted to it.
On a personal level, my parents taught me the value of travel when I was young, and since then, I’ve been an avid traveler — I have visited 20 countries. Though I’ve learned important lessons from each of my trips, my trip to Chile — the string bean-shaped country — was my favorite.
To learn more about me and my digital travels, visit my Twitter page.