5 of the Strangest and Stupidest Inventions of the 1950s

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There are many “sides” to any period of human history, and the mid-20th century’s most iconic decade, the 50s, is no exception. Sure, you had your white picket fence, Leave it to Beaver idealized vision of folks slurping back ice cream floats and listening to hep tunes that made their knee-length skirts and dark wash jeans jiggle. But you also had Cold War hysteria, post WWII shell shock, the emergence of an ever more prominent counter-culture launched by the beats and heading toward full on Cultural Revolution.
And then you had a third aspect of the 50s, the focus on Futurism (a more recent word, admittedly, but the most applicable nonetheless). The 1950s was the decade both of the real Space Age, thanks to Sputnik, but also to a host of products, shows, and designs that looked to the near future… and beyond! Some of the things folks came up with were brilliant. Others were not. Which do you think we’re going to focus on today?

5 Honegar!

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All the deliciousness of vinegar mixed with tangy sweet honey? Sign me up for this 1959 treat! Except don’t! The creator, Dr. DeForest Jarvis, was apparently looking for a curative tincture type mixture that would have been a bit more appropriate for a 19th century quack than a guy who was actually a doctor in the 20th century, but there it is for you. What was Honegar actually good for? Maybe inducing vomiting, but nothing more.

4 The Cigarette Holder for Two!

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What makes this most foolish of habits twice as fun and half as foolish? Why, it’s sharing a single cigarette between two folks at the same time, of course. And thanks to this invention from 1955, there’s no need to waste time passing your slender, easily handled tube of tobacco back and forth. No, not when you can just jam it into a little nub set in the arc of a large, cumbersome tube. I… have no idea who thought this was necessary. Or even unnecessary but worth enough little 1950s giggles to make it.

3 Brush and Shine!

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For the balding man who wants his remaining hair to look great, his exposed dome to glisten, and who only has about 5 seconds to spare, this two-in-one brush and head shiner is just the thing! It incorporates a sponge-like pad on one half of the surface, a more traditional hairbrush on the other, and even a convenient handle. Just a few passes of this baby and your scalp and hair will be looking like you just used a bad head shining device and a poorly working hairbrush! Keen!

2 The Duoped

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This lil’ debacle consisted of two small wheel set about 18 inches apart by an axle made of S-shaped metal with two pedals on it, one on each half-loop of the “S.” The idea was that by using basic walking motions, you could instead roll smoothly forward, incorporating all the ease of pedaling a very small bicycle with the joy of balancing on a precarious platform and garnering the satisfaction of moving forward extremely slowly, and likely knocking out your teeth in a fall!

1 The Flying Platform, the Rocket Belt, and the Flying Car All Tie for First Place!

For some reason, people in the 1950s were simply not satisfied with a technology that in less than 5 decades had gone from “crazy person’s pipe dream” to “whoa, man, we have jet engines and helicopters!” Inventors of the era were constantly trying to create new flying machines, which they did again and again with reliably disastrous results. Many test pilots died in hover this or flying that; many more thankfully sat almost motionless on the ground as the latest GyroBuggy or Soaring Chair Flapper fizzled out.

It was a heady decade to be sure, friends, a time of fearless inventive spirit! Perhaps one day many of these and other ideas pioneering thinkers of the 1950s came up with will finally come to fruition. But let’s hope not, OK?

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