15 Things That Weren’t Really Invented In America

April 5, 2018

There are many things that people believe to have been invented in America, but actually weren’t. For instance, the saying “as American as apple pie” is completely incorrect, because apple pie originated in Europe! Here are 15 things that you thought were invented in America, but actually aren’t:

1. Apple Pie

Recipes for pie can be traced as far back as Ancient Greece, however, the dish actually became popularized in medieval England. These were usually savory rather than sweet (filled with meat), but it’s both Dutch and British settlers that are credited with bringing apple pie to the Americas.

2. The American National Anthem

Did you know that the Star-Spangled Banner was actually written to the tune of a British drinking song named “To Anacreon in Heaven”? That song praises debauchery rather than patriotism, but most Americans don’t have the faintest idea about the Star-Spangled Banner’s true, ignoble origins…

3. The Aeroplane

Although the Wright brothers are credited with the first sustained flight, it was a New Zealand farmer named Richard Pearse who managed to get airborne for about 350 yards back in 1902 – a few months before the Wright brothers achieved their amazing feat.

4. Hot Dogs

The hot dog was more than likely discovered in ancient Rome, when the Roman emperor Nero’s cook removed and stuffed a pig’s intestines, but the tubular meat treat we enjoy today originated in either one of two European towns, namely Frankfurt (hence the word “frankfurter”) and Vienna (“wiener”, which comes from the Wien, the city’s German name). It was popularized in America after a Jewish immigrant from Poland opened his own hot dog stand back in 1916.

5. The Telephone

Scottish-born American scientist Alexander Graham Bell is the man credited with inventing the telephone, but he actually came up with the idea in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. Soon after he had the idea, he rushed off to the US to file a patent before returning to Canada to receive the first one-way long-distance call between Brantford and Paris, Ontario.

6. Denim

Denim was actually invented by accident in 18th-Century France, specifically in the city of Nimes. An attempt was made to cover an Italian fabric named serge, and the end result ended up being named “serge de Nimes”, which was then shortened to the word “denim”. It was Levi Strauss that introduced denim to America when he emigrated from Bavaria back in 1853, resulting in the birth of Levi’s jeans.

7. Peanut Butter

Peanut paste (as opposed to butter) can be traced as far back as the Incas and Aztecs, meaning that the stuff we spread on slices of bread today actually originated in Central America. The first US patent for a peanut flavoring paste was actually granted to Canadian chemist Marcellus Gilmore Edson back in 1884. Peanut butter as it is known today was developed with contributions from John Harvey Kellogg (the man behind Kellogg’s cereal) and Ambrose Straub.

8. The T.V.

Although Philo Taylor Farnsworth is often credited with creating the television (he came up with a video camera tube that was capable of transmitting images by scanning them with a beam of electrons), earlier experiments by the likes of Russias’ Boris Rosing and England’s John Logie Baird were actually conducted far before Farnsworth’s invention.

9. Birth Control

It was social reformer and sex educator Margaret Sange who introduced the term “birth control” to America back in 1914, but birth control pills were actually invented in a lab in Mexico by an Austrian –born chemist named Carl Djerassi in 1951. He never got the green light to test, produce or distribute the pill, but his research paved the way for the team that did.

10. Electric Battery

Italian physicist Alessandro Volta was the one who invented the electric battery all the way back in 1800. He was so good at what he did that the measurement for electric current, namely the volt, is named after him. His voltaic pile comprised a stack of zinc and silver (or copper and pewter) plates separated by pieces of cloth and soaked in brine.

11. X-rays

X-ray radiation was discovered in 1895 by a German mechanical engineer named Wilhelm Rontgen. H actually won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery. The great inventor, Thomas Edison, built on his findings in his inventions, but stopped when one of his assistants died due to radiation exposure.

12. The Light Bulb

Thomas Edison is credited with creating the light bulb in 1870, but it was a British inventor named Humphry Davy that invented the first electric arc lamp all the way back in 1809. It was made from two wires connected to a battery. He attached charcoal strips to the wires and noticed that they emitted a glow. Edison invented the first commercially-available light bulb.

13. The Notepad

The notepad is an American journalistic icon, but it was actually invented back in 1902 by J.A. Birchall, a Tasmanian stationary shop owner. He was bored of selling writing paper in folded stacks, so he glued a stack of halved sheets together and added a piece of cardboard to support the paper. That’s how the world’s first notepad came into being.

 14. Decaf Coffee

A German coffee merchant by the name of Ludwig Roselius invented the decaffeination process by removing caffeine from coffee beans using a hydrocarbon called benzene. Nowadays, it’s known to be a carcinogen, so thankfully safer methods of decaffeinating coffee have now been developed

15. The Automobile

Henry Ford was the first man to develop and sell cars in America, but it was  Karl Benz who was the first man to register a patent for a gas-fueled “motorwagen” (motorcar).