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12 Things That Are Not Used For What They Were Meant For

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Some genius inventions were created by chance, and some were meant for absolutely different purposes but were given a new life.

Bright Side found a few things that were used differently in the past.

12. Beer mat

First of all, this thing has a name: bierdeckel. This word of German origin can be translated as "beer top." This item was created in the 19th century in restaurants with summer terraces. People covered their glasses with this piece of cardboard to protect the drink from insects.

People later started to use bierdeckels as drink coasters in order to protect the table from dripping beer.

11. Tea

Nowadays, many people can't imagine their day without a cup of tea. But a long time ago in China, tea was used as a tonic drug.

When tea finally came to Europe, it also became a medicine. It was often used in cases of gout. Doctor Cornelis Dekker claimed, "Tea can help those who have one leg in the grave already." He also claimed that it was necessary to drink 50 cups of tea a day, and some people believe that he was well paid by the East India Company.

10. The writing and reading system for the blind

In 1808, Captain Charles Barbier created the "night alphabet." This was a special system for the military that allowed people to code messages and read them at night. It was important as any light could have attracted the enemy's attention.

Barbier thought that his invention could also be used by blind people. This was a good decision, and the "night alphabet" was more comfortable than the Haüy system that was in use at that time. Louis Braille, the inventor of the modern system of writing and reading for the blind, was inspired by the "night alphabet."

9. M&M’s candies

Surprisingly, these candies were created for the military during World War II. Plain chocolate melted in the sun, but these candy-coated sweets didn't.

The candy entered the mass market only at the end of the 1940s. Do you remember their motto "Melts in your mouth, not in your hand"? This is why it was created.

8. Balloon animals

This may seem completely weird, but the idea of twisting balloons into the figures of animals belongs to the Aztecs. They burned these figures on top of their pyramids as a sacrifice to their gods.

To make such balloons, they blew air into the intestines of animals and tied them with threads made from plants.

7. Umbrellas

Umbrellas were previously used in Europe and China for protection from sunrays. This tradition can also be traced in the names for an umbrella in different languages: zondek ("canopy") and parasol ("for the sun").

In 1750, Jonas Hanway was the first person to use an umbrella as we use it today – he opened it in the rain.

6. Hoods

Different nations around the world have some sort of hoods. However, this detail of clothing became famous thanks to the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. They also got their name from the French name for a hood: capuchon.

The Capuchin Friars used hoods to hide their faces. From the point of view of symbolism, this detail meant apostasy and invisibility.

5. Cognac

The wine of the Charante region started to sell poorly after the Hundred Years' War ended. Only Dutch sailors who sailed to Northern Europe bought this wine to sell at their final destination. However, wine couldn't stay fresh during such a long trip. Somebody came up with the idea of transporting distilled wine as it was cheaper and easier to ship. It had to be mixed with water to get wine.

However, it appeared that distilled wine became tasty after it was kept in barrels made of oak. And it also could be drunk without adding any water. This is how cognac appeared.

4. Standard Windows games

Who doesn't know the legendary Free Cell, Hearts, and Minesweeper? It seems like those games were created for killing time.

In fact, they were created with a specific purpose. At the beginning of the 1990s, when the world had seen Windows 3.0, many people didn't know how to use a computer mouse. Free Cell was meant to teach people how to use one.

Minesweeper was created to teach people to use the left and right buttons of a mouse.

3. A loop at the back of a shirt

What is the purpose of this loop at the back of a shirt? There are 3 plausible versions. The 1st one is that it was designed to hang a shirt on a hook. The 2nd version came from the times of detachable collars and neck kerchiefs: this loop was probably used for attaching a tie. The 3rd version is the most romantic. A student who studied at an American university cut off this loop to show that he was dating a girl, and the girl was meant to wear the scarf of his college.

2. The blue part of an eraser

If you ask someone, "What is the blue part of an eraser used for?" they will tell you that it's used to erase pen ink from paper. Surprisingly, the initial purpose of this part was different.

At first, it was meant to erase pencil drawings and writings from thick paper. The red part could have left stains on the paper, but the blue part did the job perfectly. Later on, the manufacturers understood that they could turn the mistake with the blue part of an eraser into a marketing strategy. From that moment on, you could find a picture of a pen on the blue part of some erasers.

1. The 5th pocket in jeans

What is this cute little pocket meant for? The most popular suggestion is that it is meant to carry condoms. Of course, you can put whatever you want into that pocket, but it was initially meant for an absolutely different purpose.

The 5th pocket first appeared in 1873 in Levi's jeans, and it was used to carry a pocket watch. Even today this pocket is called the "watch pocket" in their catalogs.

Maybe we forgot something and you know of some other things that were created for completely different purposes. Share your ideas with us in the comments.

Preview photo credit depositphotos.com
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