The history of TV dinners (1950’s)

Swanson Night TV dinner advertisement

As the story goes, after poor Thanksgiving sales left Swanson Foods with a huge surplus of turkeys, Swanson executive Gerry Thomas conceived an idea – what if they packaged the turkeys with other foods in an easy to prepare meal container, similar to what airlines in that era served passengers on domestic flights.

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The Crack Cocaine craze of the 1980’s

Smoking crack cocaine from a can

Crack is cheap, easy to get, and highly addictive. It emerged in the mid-1980’s as the popular drug of choice because it was easy and inexpensive to manufacture, making it readily available and cheap. In a 1986 Gallup poll, Americans listed crack cocaine as the most serious problem in American society.

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The history of Drive-In movies (1950’s)

Chief Drive-in Theatre Cleburne Texas

The outgoing, family oriented, car culture society that thrived during the 50’s spawned an explosion of drive-in theaters across the United States, as a car happy generation of patrons sought outdoor movies as a way to enjoy their favorite pastime with their families in the comfort of their own cars.

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The Mood Rings fad of the 1970’s

Original mood ring or mood stone 1975

In 1975, jewelry designer Marvin Wernick accompanied a physician friend to an emergency and marveled when his friend applied thermotropic (meaning, changed by temperature) tape to a child’s forehead to take her temperature. Using this same principle, he took a hollow glass shell and filled it with thermotropic liquid crystals. He then attached the glass…

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The MDMA or Ecstasy craze of the 1990’s

MDMA Ecstasy monogram

MDMA or ecstasy (often abbreviated “E” or “X”) was first synthesized in 1912 by Merck chemist Anton Kollisch to create a substance that stopped out-of-control bleeding. By the late 1980’s, ecstasy, the “feel good drug” hit the club scenes in Dallas, Texas. A year later, the hallucinogenic drug had moved overseas and by the mid…

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The CB Radio Craze (1970’s)

CB radio closeup

The CB radio was invented in 1945 by Al Gross, the inventor of the walkie-talkie and owner of the Citizens Radio Corporation.  The radio became popular with small businesses and blue-collar workers like carpenters, plumbers, and electricians who used the radio as a tool to communicate with coworkers. By 1960, the costs to produce the 23-channel radio…

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How an eccentric nudist colonist invented the Lava Lamp (1960’s)

Vintage Crestworth Atro Lantern Lava Lamp

A lava lamp (or Astro lamp as it was originally known), is a decorative light featuring various colored, oozing blobs of wax that rise and fall in a heated and lighted lamp. Englishman Edward Craven Walker invented the lava lamp in 1963 and the device grew in popularity during the 1960’s psychedelic craze.

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