Monday 20 October 2014

The chocolate bar that doesn't melt – and other great inventions

Joe O'Shea on the breakthroughs the world didn't really need... but now can't do without

In the great sweep of history – developing a chocolate bar that won't melt in the desert is unlikely to rank up there with the discovery of penicillin or the invention of the internal combustion engine.

We really only lionise the great inventors, the Alexander Flemings (penicillin), Rudolf Diesels (the diesel engine) or Thomas Edisons (claimed at least, to have invented just about everything else).

But Cadbury's can claim to have made a great leap forward by coming up with a chocolate bar that retains its structural integrity in temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius.

Scientists at Cadbury's research and development facility in Bourneville, near Birmingham in the UK, have just applied for a patent on their miracle "Temperature Tolerant" choccy-bar.

And while the Nobel Committee for Chemistry is unlikely to take much notice (it never really gets that hot in Norway), the No-Melt Dairy Milk can now be added to a long list of small but significant inventions.

It is a roll-call of minor honour, a list of men and women who have laboured long and hard to make breakthroughs that the world sometimes didn't really need but often cannot do without.

And the list includes some surprising entries, including many from Irish inventors who have made their own contributions to the forward march of civilisation.

It includes;

The Cheese And Onion Crisp

Forget the no-melt chocolate bar and try to imagine a world without the cheese & onion crisp, invented by Dubliner Joe "Spud" Murphy, considered by leading snack historians to be one of the great crisp pioneers of the 20th Century.

Spud Murphy founded Tayto in 1954, courageously taking on the tired orthodoxy of Plain and Ready Salted with his own flash of cheddar-related genius. The rest is history. Very tasty history.

The Teabag

It would have to have been an Irishman.

Invented by New York-based Irishman Samuel O'Reilly, a successful tattoo artist who transformed an art that had basically remained the same for millennia, when he developed the first electrically powered tattoo needle and ink feed system in 1891.

O'Reilly based his patent on the rotary technology of Thomas Edison's auto-graphic printing pen. The basic design has hardly changed since then. O'Reilly died in 1908.

The Ejection Seat

Irish Independent

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