#2. Corkscrews Were Military Tools for Removing Bullets
Oh, come on! What else could corkscrews have been used for? It's right there in its name: It unscrews corks, and that's that. Ever since people have had corks that need to be removed from wine bottles, they must've had corkscrews to do it. There are even pictures of old corkscrews you can find anywhere online:
Malachite's Big Hole
WARNING: Not for use in torture.
The Original Use:
Actually, that's not a corkscrew. It's a gun worm, one of the few products that sound like a video game enemy.
There was a time when guns were, to put it bluntly, worth slightly less than their weight in manure. Bullets got stuck in muskets all the time, which was a problem because if your bullet got stuck it meant you were unable to fire until it was free, and someone was probably shooting back at you. The gun worm was developed to remove those stuck bullets and other blockages, and were therefore essential in stopping you from getting killed.
"Shit, can we stop the war for a second? I need to find a long stick."
Now, how do corkscrews tie into all of this?
The answer is synchronicity. Cork bottle stoppers followed the traditional route of human invention, meaning people started using them before they really knew what they were doing. In this particular case, it meant corks were used to secure bottles before there actually was a product to remove them, thus forcing people to just leave the cork half hanging out so they could grip it with pliers or whatever.
With anything involving alcohol, the easiest answer is usually the best one.
Since that wasn't a very secure way to close a bottle, it was just a matter of time before people started ramming their wine bottles too tightly shut. Corks were broken, and people were still hell bent on drinking their wine. Eventually, one such someone had enough military background to know how to operate the gun worm, and realized it seemed strangely suitable for removing corks. And since situations when soldiers needed their gun worms during a battle and noticed their family had "borrowed" them for removing corks probably made for some pretty awkward moments, by the 17th century a variety of gun worm that would become known as the corkscrew was manufactured specifically for that purpose.
It also made it easier to stay drunk on campaign, which was critical for unit morale.
#1. WD-40 Spray Was Used to Protect Nuclear Missiles
Ah, WD-40. A can of this lube spray sits in every garage in the Western world. Used most often to loosen up rusty screws and to quiet squeaky hinges, it actually has enough uses to replace MacGyver's whole toolbox. Really, they make the stuff sound like they probably had to add that little red straw that's always getting lost just so that their product wouldn't be too perfect.
It's called a smart straw, because it's clever enough to escape any mortal garage.
But there's one use their site doesn't exactly crow about: The original use for WD-40 is hand waved with only a passing mention behind several clicks of the mouse. There, the history section reads exactly like thousands of other product websites ... and then suddenly, BAM! Atlas nuclear missiles.
It's actually more of an all-consuming roar than a "BAM!"
The Original Use:
We're going to get into some advanced chemistry here:
Water causes metal to rust.
So if you want to keep metal rust-free, you need something to repel or displace the water. In 1953, a little-known company from San Diego called Rocket Chemical Company set out to make a water displacement formula to end all water displacement formulas. They got their shit together on their 40th try and named it with an abbreviation of "water displacement, 40th attempt," a random note a chemist had scribbled in his notebook, because that's what happens when your marketing budget is an apple core and a broken shoe string. That eventually got shortened to WD-40.
It's no "crystal meth," but chemists aren't famous for their skill with words.
Then they put their new hit product to its intended use: intercontinental ballistic nuclear missiles.
The very first thing WD-40 was used for was to prevent the potentially catastrophic effects of water in the outer skin of SM-65 Atlas missiles, which didn't have any kind of rust-proofing. WD-40 enabled them to keep functional and rust-free (rust on the skin of a missile is bad news -- it can make them veer off course and presumably drop right on your house).
"We should really build our world-killing missiles out of something less persnickety."
WD-40 might have remained a classified top secret abandoned to the warehouse where the government keeps the Ark of the Covenant if the employees at the Rocket Chemical Company hadn't started sneaking some home from work, having figured out it had endless uses. When the company's founder, Norm Larsen, found out, he had visions of dollar signs and started making the stuff available at retail.
See that, boss? This is what we've been trying to tell you: There are all sorts of benefits to letting your employees steal.
For products we're lucky to have, check out 6 Geniuses Who Saw Their Inventions Go Terribly Wrong. Or learn about the 6 Geniuses Who Saw Their Inventions Go Terribly Wrong.
And stop by LinkSTORM learn what Pringles were originally going to be used for.
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