With that familiar January chill in the air, now is a great time to look at a few inventions—some famous and others more infamous—that have kept us warm in winter. From the essential lunchtime container, the Thermos®, to the less well-known battery-powered heated socks, to the bearded beanie, which ranks number 3 on the New York Daily News’ World’s Stupidest Inventions list. Silly or not, a seemingly innocuous invention can turn into a big hit. After all, who would have thought the Snuggie® would be such a hit?
1. The Snuggie® Blanket
With a tagline that reads, “America’s favorite blanket with sleeves,” sales of the Snuggie® Blanket created by Allstar Products Group (APG) of Hawthorne, N.Y., took off after the airing of a TV infomercial. A lot of people must have watched, including comedians Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg, Ellen DeGeneres and Jay Leno who soon had their audiences cracking up by mocking the product. The product quickly went viral with parodies springing up all over the Internet. But APG had the last laugh. Between September 2008 and December 2009, more than 20 million Snuggie® blankets were sold.
2. USB Cup Warmers
The USB cup warmer is the perfect gadget for techies who just love the fact that it plugs into—you guessed it—the USB port on your computer. Touted as keeping coffee or tea at about 120 degrees Fahrenheit, the diminutive cup warmer boasts a 4 Port USB 1.1 (2.0 Compatible) hub, a 3.5 foot long USB cable in case you want to use it at the office, and an on and off switch. Even better, it’s a plug ‘n play device—no drivers required!
3. Battery-Powered Electric Socks
Whether you are a Harley motorcycle riding enthusiast, a weekend mountain man, or need heated socks for medical reasons, battery powered heated socks keep your feet toasty warm when the temperatures drop. The socks, which have heating elements throughout, are worn over a pair of lightweight socks. The cord plugs into a battery pack or adaptor. Batteries not included.
The Thermos® is one of those great inventions that almost everyone has used at one point in their life. Invented by Sir James Dewar, a Scottish physicist and chemist in 1892, Thermos is actually a registered trademark and brand name that is used generically much like Kleenex or Jell-O. The correct name for this invention is a vacuum flask or Dewar flask, which is a flask that has a set of walls that are separated by vacuum that provides thermal insulation keeping hot liquids or foods hot and cold ones cold.
5. Bearded Beanie
While many people think the Bearded Beanie is beyond ridiculous (including the New York Daily News), lots of guys swear by them—beardless guys that is. Designed by Taraduff and sold on Etsy, it is a crocheted cap to keep your head warm that comes with a crocheted beard to keep your face warm. As far as we know, the Bearded Beanie is not patented or trademarked, but maybe it should be.