Cotton Candy was first introduced to the mass public at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, There, it sold 68,655 units at 25-cents per box (which in today’s money would be approximately $6 each). To say it was a success, would be an understatement. That got me thinking about other famous items that were first unveiled at World’s Fairs or similar events. Here are some of the notable products we may never have known had it not been for masses of people gathering in the name of advancement:
Disneyland Attraction Technology (1964)
Walt Disney played a massive role at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, presenting a number of the technologies that would later become fixtures at his theme parks, namely Audio Animatronics. The Disney company created two awe-inspiring experiences for visitors to the event, with the It’s a Small World ride, and Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln show. As a Disneyland fan for close to my entire life, I must heap great praise on this turning point in the park’s history.
Broadcast TV (1939)
Any casual observer of this site knows of the Sip Advisor’s love of television. Well, it all began here, with RCA President David Sarnoff, choosing to put a TV on display for the start of the fair, including broadcasting President Frankiln Roosevelt’s opening address. As if people’s minds weren’t already blown, colour photography, air conditioning and even Smell-O-Vision were introduced to the public, although I think they’re still working out the kinks to that Smell-O-Vision concept.
My love-hate relationship with phones (I love MY phone, I just hate everyone else’s!) wouldn’t be possible without its unveiling at the 1876 World’s Fair in Philadelphia. Who could have imagined then, that phones would become portable, let alone be able to accomplish so much with, while out and about. Other items to be featured at the event, included the typewriter, the steam engine, Heinz Ketchup and Hires Root Beer.
Electrical Outlet (1904)
With developments in electricity rapidly coming down the pipeline, all folks needed was a place to plug in all their future appliances and gadgets. Thanks to the 1904 World’s Fair civilization was introduced to a whole new way of harnessing power, which still exists today. Now, if only companies would stop making unnecessarily large plugs, which take up so much space that you can’t get another cable into the same outlet… and don’t get me started on European adapters!
X-Ray Machine (1901)
This device can be credited with saving an untold number of lives and advancing medical technology in a number of avenues. Interestingly, the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo was infamous for the assassination of President William McKinley. After being shot by gunman Leon Czolgosz, doctors were afraid to use the X-Ray Machine on McKinley to locate the bullet, due to fear of adverse side effects… instead, he died from his wounds eight days later.
While touchscreens are all the rage today, they were actually first introduced more than 30 years ago, at the World’s Fair in Knoxville. You’d have to imagine that this advancement blew a lot of people’s minds, given they were still fiddling around with rotary phones and such. Why it took so long for the technology to be developed before most of us had it in our hands is likely due to costs. For example, Sega had planned to follow the Game Gear with a touchscreen device, but had to scrap it.
Ice Cream Cones (1904)
1904 was a big year for revelations in the snacking industry. Along with cotton candy, ice cream cones also made their debut. While I’m not the biggest ice cream buff, preferring my iced treats to be in bowl or cookie form, I can’t say that I’ve never enjoyed a cone (preferably waffle) covered with all the necessary goodies. I wonder how the original cones held up given even nowadays, you often end up with ice cream all over your hands. Perhaps they used materials back then that are illegal now.
For everyone that’s ever suffered motion sickness from these monster movie screens, you have the 1970 EXPO to thank. It figures that Japan would be the debut site of this technological wonder, but it should be noted that the film (Tiger Child) was produced by a Canadian company. I have never felt so proud of my country than right now! The IMAX might have been rivaled by the large moon rock on display at the American pavilion, recently returned from the second trip to the moon.
Flavour Revolution: Funhouse Cocktail
- 2 oz Pinnacle Cotton Candy Vodka
- Top with Club Soda
- Splash of Cranberry Juice
- Garnish with Cotton Candy
Some other more “minor” debuts of note at World’s Fairs include Cracker Jack (1893), Dr. Pepper (1904), the Twinkie (1940), and Cherry Coke (1982). It should also be noted that one of the world’s most famous landmarks, the Eiffel Tower, was built for the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris, while other notable attractions were also erected for a city’s turn to host the world, such as the Space Needle in Seattle and Science World (aka that golf ball looking building) in Vancouver.