From Life Savers to cash registers, Ohio is home to many notable innovations. Not only does the state feature an entire museum dedicated to the art of invention, but also several local landmarks pay homage to great thinkers who once called Ohio home.
Clarence A. Crane grew up in Garrettsville and worked for his father’s maple sugar business. In 1903, he started his own maple sugar business in Warren and eventually transitioned into the chocolate candy trade. After noticing that many customers stopped buying chocolate in the summer (since it would melt easily), Crane decided to invent a new kind of candy in 1912. With a machine that pharmacists used to make round flat pills, Crane crafted a small, circular candy, then punched a hole in the middle so it looked like a life preserver. Known as “Pep-O-Mint Life Savers” due to their peppermint flavor, Crane’s candy was an instant hit. Today, Life Savers come in a variety of flavors, from Butter Rum to Wild Cherry; you can browse the delicious assortment at www.life-savers.com. If you want to satisfy your sweet tooth, check out b.a. Sweetie Candy Company Inc. in Cleveland. Often referred to as the largest candy store in the U.S., b.a. Sweetie is essentially a warehouse full of the world’s most popular treats. Learn more at www.sweetiescandy.com.
For a glimpse into the minds of several famous American inventors, head to the Invent Now Museum and Store, adjacent to the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) School in Akron. The museum features 2,000 square feet of exhibits and the store has plenty of interesting items for purchase. Recent exhibits include Inventive Eats: Incredible Food Innovations
, which showcases food-related patents and trademarks.
Visuals include a full-size Mr. Peanut® character costume from the 1960s and 19th
century patent models including a refrigerator, eggbeater, flour sifter and the original Mason jar. Plan a day of discovery at www.invent.org/hall_of_fame/1_5_0_museum.asp.
Patent No. 221,630 belongs to James J. Ritty, inventor of the mechanical cash register. In 1878, while on a steamboat trip, the Dayton businessman became intrigued by a mechanism that counted the revolutions of the ship’s propeller. He set out to invent a similar mechanism to record cash transactions at the saloon he owned with his brother, John. Ritty created a prototype and opened a small factory in Dayton to manufacture his product. The brothers eventually sold the cash register business to what became the National Cash Register Company, or NCR. Learn more about the cash register’s past by visiting Hawthorn Hill. The mansion was aviation pioneer Orville Wright’s home for nearly 35 years until NCR bought it as a corporate guesthouse. After serving NCR for six decades, the home was later returned to the Wright family and is today open for public tours. Find out more about Hawthorn Hill at www.daytonhistory.org/destinations/hawthorn-hill.htm.
Other famous Ohio innovators include Thomas Edison and Charles F. Richter, the inventor of the Richter Scale used to measure earthquakes. To read more, visit www.ohiohistorycentral.org/scrapbook-view.php?rec=135.