12 Things: Used for Different Purposes than Previously Intended

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It may surprise you to learn that some things were invented for different purposes as compared to what they are actually being used for at present. You can find out more about these items in the following details.
1. Beer Mat
Beer mats are derived from the German term bierdeckel that signifies ‘beer tops’. They were manufactured in the 19th century for restaurants having summer verandahs and used for covering drinks to prevent the entry of insects. At a later stage, they started being used as coasters for people to place their drinks so the table does not get soiled.

Beer Mat


2. Tea

During earlier times, China used tea as a tonic drug; in Europe, it had medicinal uses; primarily, for the treatment of Gout. Apparently, Doctor Cornelis Dekker proclaimed that tea is helpful for those groups of people on the verge of dying. Additionally, he advised people to sip 50 cups of tea on a daily basis. Well, there were reports of him being paid by East India Company.

China used tea


3. Reading and Writing Tools for the Blind People

During 1808, Captain Charles Barbier was the pioneer of the ‘night alphabet’: a specialized system that permitted the coding of messages amongst military personnel for reading at nighttime. As a result, the enemy’s attention was not attracted due to flashes of light. Barbier thought that his invention could help the blind as well. Surprisingly, the ‘night alphabet’ became more popular than the Haüy system that was prevalent during those times. Furthermore, Louis Braille who invented the modernized mechanisms for reading and writing for the blind is known to have gained inspiration from the ‘night alphabet’.

night alphabet


4. M & M’s Candy

Did you know that your favorite M & M’s were created for the military officers of World War II? This is indeed true. The reason they were preferred over their chocolate counterparts: they did not melt in the sun like chocolate. During the latter part of the 1940s, the candies made their way into the mass market. Also, their motto was ‘Melts in your mouth, not in your hand’ – the reason for their manufacture.
M & M’s Candy


5. Balloon Animals

It is so strange to know that as per the tradition of the Aztecs, balloons were twisted into animal shapes during their existence. These figures were charred atop their pyramids as a sacrificial act for their Gods. For creating these balloons, they were known to blow air into the animal’s intestines and tie them with plant-derived threads. Sounds really weird right?

Balloon Animals

6. Umbrellas

Well, we have Jonas Hanway to thank for showing us the way to open umbrellas in the rain; this was way back in 1750. During the past times, countries such as China and Europe used umbrellas only for protection from the sun’s rays. There were different terms for these items such as ‘parasol’ meaning ‘for the sun’ and ‘zondek’ denoting canopies.





7. Hoods

Varied nations around the world have their own distinctive hoods. However, the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin was the man behind this clothing becoming famous. Hoods get their name from the French term for hoods: Capuchons. Hoods were used by the Capuchin Friars for masking their faces, symbolizing invisibility.


8. Cognac

The story of the origin of Cognac has an interesting twist to it. Post the Hundred Years’ War, wine originating from the Charante areas recorded poor sales. It was bought by only Dutch sailors for selling in the Northern part of Europe when they sailed to those destinations. However, the freshness of the wine could not be preserved for the long journey. As a result, they thought of preparing distilled wine because it was cheap and could be shipped easily. Its preparation required the wine to be mixed with water. Nonetheless, it was observed that the flavor of the distilled wine was enhanced when it was kept in oak barrels. Additionally, there was no need to mix water for drinking it. As a result, cognac was invented.


9. Computer Games

Did you know that games such as Minesweeper, Hearts and Free Cell were invented for teaching people how to operate computers and not for entertainment purposes? This is indeed true. During the 1990s, when Windows 3.0 entered the market, people did not know how to use a computer mouse. Games like Minesweeper and Freecell were introduced to teach people their use. According to the grapevine, by playing Minesweeper, users could become better acquainted with the left and right mouse buttons.



10. Loops on the Behind of Shirts

There are 3 purposes for which it is believed that shirts have a loop at their backs. Firstly, there were handy for hanging shirts. Secondly, they could be used for attaching ties. Thirdly, by far the most romantic version, it was a student of an American University who removed his shirt’s loop to signal that he was dating a girl; on the other hand, the girl had to adorn his college’s scarf.


shirts have a loop at their back



11. The Blue of the Erasers

If you ask anybody about the purpose of the blue part of an eraser, they are most likely to say that it erases pen ink. Astoundingly, this portion had a different function in the past. During previous times, the blue part could effectively erase pencil sketching from thickened paper. The red part left stains on the paper but the blue portion performed the job to perfection.

Blue of the Erasers


12. The 5th pocket of your jeans

Nowadays, the 5th pocket is handy to carry small items including coins and condoms. But, did you know that in 1873, Levis jeans had a 5th pocket for holding a ‘pocket watch’? Yes. In fact, if you browse through their catalogs, this pocket is referred to as ‘watch pocket’.


5th pocket


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