Bright Side

People Share 15+ Common Things That Were Used for Different Reasons in the Past

They say that necessity is the mother of invention, but imagination likely has a lot to do with it as well. A lot of the inventions people have developed over the years were actually created with completely different purposes than what they became popular for.

We at Bright Side love history and learning about different inventions, so we’re sharing stories about what different items were really intended to do.

1. Listerine

2. Groomsmen

  • best man at a wedding used to have a more practical purpose: he was a swordsman, usually the best the groom could afford, who’d fight anyone who opposed the wedding.

3. Paintball guns

  • Paintball guns, before they were used for fun, were originally called paintball markers and were invented to help mark trees that needed to be trimmed or chopped down.

4. Nalgene bottles

5. Kleenex

  • Kleenex was originally designed to act as insulation for a gas mask during World War I.

6. Soda

  • A lot of popular sodas, like Coca-Cola and Dr. Pepper, were originally marketed as medicines and health tonics. Another popular soft drink, Irn-Bru, which is popular in the UK, gets its name from the “Iron” it provided, back when it was a health drink.

7. The dashboard

  • Before there were cars, carriages and coaches helped people get around and set the groundwork for future vehicles. The dashboard was originally a literal board of wood used to protect people from debris for when the horses started to trot too fast.

8. Cheese grater

  • Nowadays, when people see a cheese grater, they see a kitchen device, but it was originally used as a wood rasp.

9. Superglue

10. Microwaves

  • Before being used to reheat leftovers or make popcorn, microwave transmitters were originally created to transmit radar signals in WWII. But food was still important to its history: a worker noticed that a candy bar in his pocket melted when it was near the transmitter.

11. High-heeled shoes

  • Today, you mostly see women wearing high-heeled shoes, but they were originally men’s shoes and were used for horseback riding, helping to secure their heels in the stirrups.

12. IQ tests

13. Duct tape

  • Duct tape is still known for being versatile, but its original intention was to fix ammo box holes, to protect the insides from getting wet.

14. Benadryl

  • Benadryl is usually taken today to treat allergy symptoms, but it was originally created to be a sleep aid. In the end, however, its antihistamine properties became its selling point.

15. The pound sign

  • If you’ve ever wondered where the pound sign (#) on your phone or hashtags came from, it started as shorthand for “pound weight.” By the ’80s, it started to be used for voicemail access.

16. Menstrual pads

  • Menstrual pads were created to soak up the blood in bullet wounds for soldiers. That being said, its modern use came right around the corner: nurses were already using them as feminine hygiene products.

What are some other stories about famous inventions that you’ve heard of? Please share them with us in the comments!