December 14, 2018 10:37 am

For inventors, the most wonderful time of the year is also a time for creativity and innovation to blossom. Although there are a multitude of holiday inventions that made the season great, a few products have stood the test of time. Some inventions even evolved each year to become staples for gift-wrapping, decorating, baking and more. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, or another holiday you can appreciate these inventors who developed some of the most important holiday inventions of all time.

Thomas Edison

Almost all inventors look up to Thomas Edison for his incredible innovation. The inventor of the first successful practical light bulb, Edison also created a holiday decorating staple. Families had long decorated their homes with candles and fire light, and in the early 1880’s, Edison created the first strand of electrical lights.

In 1882, Edward H. Johnson, partner to Edison, strung together the first string of electric Christmas lights. Johnson hand-wired 80 colorful bulbs and wrapped them around a Christmas tree. Decades passed before these string lights became a staple during the holiday season, but on Christmas Eve 1923, President Calvin Coolidge lit the National Christmas Tree with approximately 3,000 string lights. From then on, Edison’s invention of the electric string lights became a classic holiday invention.

The Hall Brothers

The early 1900’s meant inventing long-lasting products for the Hall Brothers. The pair behind the Hallmark company began by marketing their famous greeting cards. In 1917, the Hall Brothers changed holiday gift-giving by inventing the modern day gift wrap. That year, during the peak Christmas season, the Halls began selling fancy printed French envelope lining.

So, why did the Hall Brothers begin selling fancy decorated envelopes? This was simply a solution to running out of solid-colored gift dressing. Once the new gift-wrap quickly sold out, the duo realized there was a large market for printing gift-wrap. The brothers found a problem and made a solution by inventing something still used today in large quantities.

Richard Gurley Drew

Another invention that changed the holiday season was the creation of Scotch Tape. Richard Gurley Drew was an inventor and college dropout working for a small sandpaper company in the early 1900’s. The company, known as Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing, would go on to become 3M, which still produces Scotch Tape. Drew developed the idea after years of experimenting with different adhesives and crepe paper. The tape was eventually created using cellophane, giving us something similar to the Scotch Tape now used to wrap holiday presents.

Although originally developed for the use of painting cars, Scotch Tape would go on to become a holiday invention used in almost every American household. Today, millions of families go through millions of rolls of Scotch Tape in order to wrap gifts for the family and friends. Without the popular holiday invention, gift-giving would have a much different look.

 Bob McCormack & Gregory Harding Keller

One of the most delicious holiday treats are candy canes. Although we now think of them as a holiday classic, these peppermint flavored candies didn’t become popular until around 1902. Bob McCormack started his own business called Bob’s Candies where he started making canes for his loved ones. McCormack’s brother-in-law, Gregory Harding Keller found an easier way to turn straight peppermint sticks into canes by inventing the Keller Machine.

Without the Keller Machine, candy canes would not have been sold in such mass quantities. Prior to Keller’s invention, McCormack’s candy canes could not be produced nearly as quickly. Candy canes could now be sold to millions, rather than thousands. Today, candy canes are still a popular holiday invention with over 1.76 billion being made within one year.

Thanks to these inventors, the holidays were changed forever. These holiday inventions made it easier to wrap presents, decorate and enjoy our favorite peppermint candies. Innovation and new products shape our daily lives, but we often forget to appreciate the inventors who made our lives easier during the holidays.

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