The Incredible Origins Of Everyday Items

Published December 9, 2013
Updated February 12, 2018

Whistling Dixie

Origins Of Everyday Items Dixie Cups

Source: Blogspot

The scene has become a cinematic cliche: a horseman, after a long ride in the sun, stops at a remote farmhouse with a well and asks a maiden for a drink of water. She takes a tin utensil, similar to a ladle, and dips it into a bucket to offer the traveler a drink. It’s more than movie magic: people often drank from a public water barrel, well, pump, or spigot with a communal tin cup or communal dipper until the late 19th century.

With both sick and healthy people sharing drinking vessels, the public soon realized that the practice spread germs; and that’s when the paper cup was born. Bostonian Lawrence Luellen developed a water-vending machine with disposable cups, emphasizing the health benefits of the apparatus. By 1912, he and his partner Hugh Moore had their first semi-automatic machine. In 1919 their company’s Health Kup was renamed the Dixie Cup and an iconic American brand was born.

According to Smithsonian magazine, the Dixie cup ushered in a whole new era of disposable, single-use items, such as razors, aerosol cans and pens. So instead of simply singing praises for their sanitary endeavors, you might also blame Luellen and Moore for the state of today’s landfills.

Walk Like An Egyptian

Egyptian Makeup

Source: WordPress

Ladies, as you apply your makeup in the mirror, you are participating a ritual that dates back thousands of years. We’ve all seen the depiction of Cleopatra with dark, thick eyeliner that extends well past her eyes. It is said that the Egyptians—both men and women—took to accentuating the eyes with makeup by 4000 B.C. Green eyeshadow, applied to the lids above and below the eye, was made from powdered malachite, a green copper ore.

Meanwhile, eyeliner was concocted from a mixture of powdered antimony, burnt almonds, black oxide of copper and brown clay ocher that formed a heavy black paste called kohl. It was softened using spit and applied with ivory, metal or wooden sticks akin to today’s eyeliner wands. And if you think glittery makeup is a fashion of today, think again. The Egyptians had the jump on that, too, grounding the shells of iridescent beetles into a fine powder that they added to the malachite for sparkly effects.

All That's Interesting
Established in 2010, All That's Interesting brings together a dedicated staff of digital publishing veterans and subject-level experts in history, true crime, and science. From the lesser-known byways of human history to the uncharted corners of the world, we seek out stories that bring our past, present, and future to life. Privately-owned since its founding, All That's Interesting maintains a commitment to unbiased reporting while taking great care in fact-checking and research to ensure that we meet the highest standards of accuracy.
Savannah Cox
Savannah Cox holds a Master's in International Affairs from The New School as well as a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and now serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Sheffield. Her work as a writer has also appeared on DNAinfo.