GADGETS Can Make Your FORTUNE (Sep, 1949)

One interesting side note about this passage:

“Another man who made a highly profitable find in the food field in recent years is Leo Peters, originator of the “Pak” margarine package, made out of plastic and containing a capsule for coloring. By merely kneading the “Pak,” a housewife can give a pound of margarine the appetizing hue of butter. It took Peters a long time to put the idea across, but once it was accepted by manufacturers he began collecting royalties estimated at $1,000,000 a year.”

Why, you might ask, couldn’t they just put the dye in the margarine? Well it turns out that the dairy lobby in this country had/has some serious pull. They saw margarine as competition to butter and had many laws passed that restricted the it’s appearance, primarily making it illegal to dye it to look like butter. The last state to repeal these laws was Wisconson in 1967. In Quebec, Canada it is STILL illegal to sell yellow margarine. More information on wikipedia.

Oh, and does anyone think that machine below looks at all “human-like”?


By West Peterson

THIRTY-FIVE thousand inventions will be patented in the United States this year. If one of them is yours— possibly a simple gadget with universal appeal—you may reap a fortune!

Anything from a new household appliance to an improved method of food processing, from a unique use of plastics to another member of the wonder drug family can pay off huge dividends to the lucky— and skillful—discoverer. While it’s true that many inventions are now made by research teams in well-equipped laboratories, there’s still plenty of opportunity for the scientific or gadget-minded individual.

Take, for instance, the case of Ataullah Durrani, who developed one of the newest products on grocery store shelves—”Minute Rice.”

Durrani, a native of Afghanistan who studied chemistry in Europe, came to America with the idea of doing petroleum research. Unable to find a job in this field, he got into the importing business. At a dinner party one night, a canning company executive learned of his frustrated research ambitions and suggested that he go to work on rice.

“The raw material is cheap,” the executive pointed out, “you don’t need the expensive equipment required in petroleum experiments, and there are plenty of problems to be overcome.”

Though rice was a low-cost and valuable food, the executive explained, it was troublesome to keep and to prepare. The oil in the grain tended to turn it rancid, and it attracted vermin. Cooking it was a complicated process—one for which few American housewives had sufficient patience. Perhaps some method of canning rice might be the answer.

The project sounded feasible to Durrani. He went to work on it and finally came up with a quick-cooking rice formula that looked promising. Since the end product was dry, it didn’t require canning. In 1940 he went to Stuttgart, Ark., and got the Arkansas Rice Growers’ Cooperative Association interested in the method. The Association set him up in a small laboratory and gave him the chance to devote all his time to perfecting the process.

Eventually, Durrani was satisfied with his system of pre-cooking and drying rice so that the consumer would have no trouble storing it and could prepare it easily in a couple of minutes.

With an electric stove, one dish, one copper pan and some rice—carried in a 39-cent bag bought in a drugstore—Durrani went to New York and visited the offices of General Foods. He set up his materials on the desk of the company’s head research executive and gave a convincing demonstration. The inventor was given a retainer, a royalty agreement was worked out and a patent was obtained in Durrani’s name.

Since then, General Foods has invested more than $1,000,000 in the process—$650,000 of it for erecting a new plant to turn out “Minute Rice” at Houston, Tex. There are other plants at Orange, Mass., and Battle Creek, Mich.

All the “Minute Rice” made during the war went to the armed forces. Market tests were conducted in Atlanta and Philadelphia in 1946, and national distribution of the product was achieved early this year.

And of course Ataullah Durrani, the lone researcher, is beginning to cash in on his discovery in a big way! He is one of countless inventors to hit the jackpot.

Another man who made a highly profitable find in the food field in recent years is Leo Peters, originator of the “Pak” margarine package, made out of plastic and containing a capsule for coloring. By merely kneading the “Pak,” a housewife can give a pound of margarine the appetizing hue of butter. It took Peters a long time to put the idea across, but once it was accepted by manufacturers he began collecting royalties estimated at $1,000,000 a year.

Earlier, Clarence Birdseye topped that figure by a wide margin and made “Birds Eye” a household name. In 1916, while engaged in fur trading in Labrador, Birdseye discovered that when a fish was quick-frozen in arctic temperatures it could be thawed out, cooked and eaten weeks later and still taste as though it had just been yanked from the water.

Back home in Massachusetts, he began experimenting with the preservation of seafood through artificially induced subzero temperatures. It took years, but finally his method was effective. It not only worked on fish but on berries, vegetables, meats and almost every other kind of perishable food. He set up independent companies to market his frozen produce. In the end, he sold his patents, name and services as a consultant to General Foods for $22,000,000!

At last reports Birdseye was still seeking new worlds to conquer; he was experimenting with the dehydration of foods.

But you don’t have to discover anything of such importance as frozen foods to be a successful inventor. There are thousands of examples of seemingly unimportant twists or gadgets that have made fortunes. Take, for instance, the fellow who thought up the movable top for collar studs. For years his royalties amounted to $20,000 per annum.

Then there was Clarence Collette of Amsterdam, N. Y., who got the idea of putting ridges or nicks in paper clips so that they would hold sheets more securely. He cleaned up in a big way because stenographers found his paper clips were better!

Speaking of stenographers, incidentally, the majority of them use the Gregg shorthand system. Just the other day, in an accounting of his will, it was revealed that the man who devised the system—John R. Gregg—had left an estate of $3,250,000!

Years ago, Robert Gordon of Plainfield, N. J., became irritated because the wooden, cloth-covered buttons of his garters failed to hold his socks up properly. He patented the idea of using rubber or rubber-covered buttons—and the royalties, enabled him to live like a prince!

The list could be continued indefinitely. You don’t have to be an Edison to make your fortune in the field of invention. You can be plain Joe Doakes with an inspiration and the patience to develop an idea to perfection.

Of course, only a small percentage of the 35,000 patents taken out in Washington each year ever result in big payoffs for their owners. Holding a patent is like buying a pari mutuel ticket on a horse race—but at tremendously increased odds. It’s interesting to examine some of the newcomers in the Inventors’ Sweepstakes, and to speculate on their chances for success.

One of these is the Polaroid Land Camera, which went on the market a few months ago. Invented by youthful Edwin H. Land, president of the Polaroid Corporation of Cambridge, Mass., this camera makes possible what is described as “a new kind of photography as revolutionary as the transition from wet-plates to daylight-loading film.”

Carrying its own chemicals, the Land camera automatically develops the film and turns out a contact print in less than a minute after a picture has been snapped. Obviously, the elimination of the old-style developing process will appeal to many shutterbugs. But will this overcome certain disadvantages of the new camera? The Land product enjoyed a big sale when first introduced in stores in New York and elsewhere. Whether the volume will hold up—whether the invention will make a million—only time can tell.

A New York optician, Monroe Levoy, has an entry in the sweepstakes in the form of “Kool Krome” sunglasses. The wearer of these spectacles has vision as good as through any other sunglasses, but to anyone else the lenses look like mirrors. The girl friend can take ‘em off and use them as mirrors while applying lipstick or powdering her nose.

The “Kool Krome” lenses, manufactured by Libbey-Owens-Ford Glass Company, are turned into mirrors by the application of a thin coating of chromium to the outside surface of tinted glass. Aside from the novelty value, the specs are said to be better than ordinary sunglasses inasmuch as they reflect a higher percentage of the sun’s infra red ravs Maybe Mr. Levoy has a winner!

An inventor named Jerome Murray is hoping to cash in with his new magnetic mixer. To put this machine to work, a housewife simply drops a small steel bar into the batter in the mixing bowl. Then, she puts the bowl on the top of the contraption, inside of which is a magnet being whirled rapidly by a motor. Magnetism spins the bar and presto—the miv-ing is quickly finished.

By the use of various accessories, Murray’s mixer will also squeeze oranges, grind meat, crush ice, scour pots and perform other household chores. Will Mrs. America go for this many-purpose machine? The inventor thinks she will.

Paint that will resist fire is something that has been needed for a long time—and now it has been developed by two bright young men from Harvard, Walter Juda and Grinnell Jones, under the sponsorship of the Alibi Chemical Corporation of New York.

The paint is called “Alibi-R” and has been put on the market in powder form. Mixed with water, it is applied most successfully on interior surfaces. While not washable, it can be covered with ordinary paint to make a durable surface. If flame touches a door or wall covered with Alibi-R, the paint blisters and puffs up, tending to insulate the surface and cut off the oxygen the fire needs to burn.

Maybe you don’t have the scientific know-how to develop anything like fire-resistant paint. But—in your hope of making a fortune from a gadget or some other discovery—you shouldn’t give up. All you need is ingenuity.

You might, for example, dream up something like the following patented items: a hot soup grease skimmer … an electric potato masher … a radio hat . . . bathing trunks that can be inflated … a portable clothes closet. . . floor-polishing slippers … an automatic mattress turner….

These and many others were on display at the First International Inventors’ Exposition staged in New York City’s Grand Central Palace last June.

The radio headgear probably attracted as much attention from the visitors to the show as any other gadget. Called the “Man from Mars Radio Hat,” it is the creation of Victor T. Hoeflich and has already jingled the cash registers satisfactorily in the department stores where it has been put on sale.

Hoeflich’s novelty, used in an unshielded location, will bring in stations within a twenty-five mile radius on all standard wave lengths. The hat sells for $7.95—and the inventor hopes you’ll want one!

The inflated bathing trunks—called “Float-ees,” and shown at the Inventors’ Exposition by Harry Spack of New York—is another product already on the market. Inside the garment are a pair of “pontoons,” made of vinyl plastic, which can be inflated by a long tube normally tucked away in the top of the trunks. Spack hopes enough non-swimmers will buy his “Float-ees” to make them as popular as water-wings used to be.

Another entry at the show was “The Music Writer”—a typewriter that sets musical notations down on paper much faster and more legibly than they could be written by hand.

“Long awaited by musicians of all kinds,” says its inventor, Dal Molin, “this easy-to-learn, easy-to-operate machine will eliminate hand copying and give a good clean score.”

G. A. Parsons, head of the exposition, believes that inventions generally create more employment than they take away. Witness-the plastics industry with all its new products* and the airplane industry with its safety devices. Are 35,000 new inventions a year too many? Not by any means, he declares.

Parsons says that eight out of every ten Americans today are inventors. Or, would like to be. Are you one of them?

If you’ve got a bee in your bonnet about a new super-gadget, a startling manufacturing process or a clever adaptation of a standard article, get to work on it. Gadgets have made millions of dollars for other men; they can make your fortune, too!

  1. [...] because people like things to look the right colour, this set the stage for profitable dodges: Another man who made a highly profitable find in the food field in recent years is Leo Peters, [...]

  2. Ana Crispino says: September 5, 200712:10 pm

    Need information about small machinery for to grind meat

  3. [...] 13. Minute Rice: http://blog.modernmecha… [...]

  4. [...] 13. Minute Rice: http://blog.modernmecha… [...]

  5. Tomato Rice | Retro Recipe Attempts says: April 8, 20131:03 am

    [...] ad is for a product less than a year old. A little more Googling turned up the interesting story of Ataullah Durrani, an Afghani chemist who invented and perfected the process of parboiling rice. (Thankfully, [...]

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