Whipped cream and awesome inventions #idoa

Today in 1955, Aaron S Lapin received a US patent for his invention of a “Dispensing Valve for Gas Pressure Containers”. What makes this patent stand out from other patents awarded on this day, is the application of the valve – Lapin designed it in 1948 as the dispensing mechanism for his ‘Reddi-Wip’ whipped cream dessert topping, an instantly ready and foamy whipped cream in a spray can.

Chocolate pannacotta from my recipe book, cape gooseberries from my garden and whipped cream from Aaron Lapin's awesome tilt-opening dispensing valve.(© All Rights Reserved)
Chocolate pannacotta from my recipe book, cape gooseberries from my garden and whipped cream from Aaron Lapin’s awesome tilt-opening dispensing valve.
(© All Rights Reserved)

In essence, a soluble gas (typically carbon dioxide), is mixed into whipped cream in a can equipped with Lapin’s special valve. When the tilt-opening valve is tilted, the gas expands in reaction to the lesser atmospheric pressure outside the can, and pushes the cream through the valve. When the tilt-valve is let go, the elasticity of the valve seal causes it to return to the closed position, thus retaining the rest of the pressurised content inside the can.

So, a clever mechanical invention allowing us to enjoy fluffy, whipped cream without any effort – now there’s an awesome invention!

Oh, and speaking of awesome, today also happens to be ‘International Day of Awesomeness’ (hashtag #idoa). As the website states, “People are awesome every day, frequently don’t realize it, and their feats of awesomeness are rarely recognized. We aim to fix that, with a special day to both perform and celebrate feats of awesomeness!”

Here’s to awesomeness, here’s to whipped cream, and here’s great inventions. Have a great day, all!

Shoe appreciation day

It’s a good day to show some appreciation for our good old mass-produced shoes!
(© All Rights Reserved)

On this day in 1885, Jan Matzeliger, an African-American inventor in the shoe industry, began the first U.S. mass production of shoes, in Lynn, Massachusetts.

Matzeliger was born in 1852 in Paramaribo (then Dutch Guyana, now Suriname) to a Dutch engineer father and a Surinamese slave mother. After moving to Massachusetts in 1877, he went to work in the Harney Brothers Shoes factory. At the time, there was no way to mechanically attach the upper part of a shoe to the sole – it had to be done manually by a “hand laster”.  A skilled hand laster could produce 50 pairs of shoes in a ten-hour day.

He began work on designing a shoe-lasting machine, and after five years, Matzeliger obtained a patent for his invention in Mar 1883 (U.S. No 274,207). His machine could produce between 150 to 700 pairs of shoes a day, cutting shoe prices across the nation in half.

Sadly, Matzeliger died from tuberculosis soon after, which meant  he never saw the full profit of his invention.