May/June 1998 | Volume 49, Issue 3
Sliced bread. A late-1920s product that flourished during the Depression and was said to have created twenty-five thousand new jobs, it was technically sound: Moisture circulation in a sliced, sealed loaf is actually improved. But in the long run it helped put family bakeries out of business and promoted balloon bread. And none of several claimants to the invention appears to have made much money from it.
The Brunswick Mineralite bowling ball, introduced in 1914 and made until around 1980. One of the most durable consumer goods ever manufactured, it sold in the millions with a lifetime warranty, yet only a handful were ever returned as defective. By replacing the easily deformed lignum vitae ball, it helped make bowling America’s most popular participant sport.