I recently read an interesting article about the latest evolution of the Barbie Doll—Episcopal Priest Barbie. While I’m not surprised or troubled by Barbie’s ordination, I am a little amused that most of my fellow countrymen assume the iconic fashion doll was an American invention. Nope. It was a copycat of the German Lilli Doll (right), inspired by a popular post-WWII comic strip character. And that’s not the only surprise of German ingenuity.
Most people know that a German, Johannes Gutenberg, invented moveable type printing in the fifteenth century, but did you know a German invented blue jeans? A tailor who immigrated to the US from Germany named Levi Strauss created the popular work pants along with his partner Jacob Davis in 1873. But there’s more.
German Philipp Reis invented the telephone fifteen years before Alexander Graham Bell secured his U.S. patent for a similar device. In 1885 Karl Benz built an automobile eleven years before Henry Ford made his first gasoline-powered vehicle. And that’s not all.
The refrigerator, rocket, and MP3 technology are all German innovations. So are sneakers, aspirin, and decaf coffee.
So next time you throw on your jeans, grab a decaf latte, go for a drive, make a phone call, or listen to your iPod, thank a German!