Photo: Niko Virtanen, license Creative Commons BY

15 Things the World Needs to Be Thanking California For

by Christina Kantzavelos Aug 25, 2017

1. Blue Jeans

Both you and the ’50’s-to the present can thank us for this invention. In 1971, Jacob W. Davis in partnership with the Levis Strauss & Co., created jeans as workman’s clothing. Now celebrities will rip their blue jeans for fashion — you know, just like a real workman.

2. Nicotine Patch

We got you to stop smoking. The nicotine patch was patented in 1990 by University of California Los Angeles, after being invented by highly respected
psychopharmacologist, Murray Jarvik who had researched to find out why his wife was so addicted to cigarettes. Along with two colleagues, he established that nicotine was largely responsible for the addiction, and came up with the nicotine patch as a potential solution.

3. Popsicles

At 11, Frank Epperson left a mixing stick in a cup of soda on his porch during an exceptionally cold night in San Francisco. Next morning, he found the soda frozen and, even more, delicious and fun to eat. He began selling his accidental invention around his neighborhood. Eight years later, he patented it as ”a handled, frozen confection or ice lollipop,” and named it an Epsicle. His children referred to it as a ‘popsicle,’ which was enough for him to change the name.

4. The Walt Disney Company

In 1923, Roy and Walt Disney began sketching live-action/animated films in Los Angeles, when they started the Walt Disney Company. Mickey Mouse was born in 1928, and by the 1940’s, Disney Studios had produced many successful cartoons, as well as movies such as Snow White. With the success of this production company, Walt Disney wanted his cartoons to come to life in an amusement park setting. It wasn’t easy. Disneyland’s history is fascinating and tumultuous — and it lead to a split between him and his brother. Nonetheless, the Disneyland amusement park opened its doors in the city of Anaheim in 1955, and continues to be The Happiest Place on Earth.

5. Skateboarding

Skateboarding was created in the 1950’s as a way to ‘surf’ when the waves were flat or too much in the ocean off Southern California. The simple wooden board affixed to dissembled roller blades soon evolved into more technologically advanced boards and created a local sport and culture in the 1970’s and has become a world-renowned activity today. Check out the movie, Dogtown and Z-Boys for the real story. Can’t wait to see skateboarding hit the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo!

6. WD-40

Literally translated to Water Displaced, 40th Formula, this magic rust preventer/degreaser was created in San Diego, after 40 tries. Due to air pollution regulations, WD-40 wasn’t sold for a short time in California, and a new formula had to be created in order to comply with our strict standards.

7. Hollywood

Filmmakers began moving out to Hollywood in the early 1900’s to escape the strict rules set forth by the Motion Picture Patents Company owned by Thomas Edison, in New Jersey. Why Hollywood? Ideal weather, various terrain, and a quick escape to Mexico in the case Edison’s company attempted to sue and or stop your movie due to movie making patents owned by his company.

8. California Burritos/California Sushi Rolls/Sushi Burritos

The 1980’s spawned one of the best burritos known to humankind, the California burrito. The burrito consists of carne asada meat, cheese, pico de gallo, onion, sour cream, guacamole, and the one ingredient that sets it apart from the rest, French fries. God bless fusion cooking. Meanwhile, in the late 1960’s/early 70’s, an inside out sushi roll, containing cucumber, imitation or real crab and avocado was created. Like the California burrito, it is heavily disputed as to who actually invented the roll. The most widely accepted creator is sushi chef, Iziro Mashito, sushi chef at Tokyo Kaikan in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. Apparently, he began substituting avocados (not a typical Japanese sushi ingredient) for fatty tuna (toro) during the tuna off-season. Now we have a sushi burrito. In 2011, Peter Yen, founder of Sushirrito in San Francisco, wanted to create a sushi concept that was ‘fast, fresh, affordable, portable and environmentally conscious.”

9. Tiki Pop Culture

This 20th-century fun fad, inspired by Polynesian tiki carvings and mythology, began with the opening of the Polynesian-themed restaurant, Don the Beachcomber, in Hollywood in 1933. The owner, Ernest Grantt, was a former bootlegger during prohibition and traveled around the Caribbean and South Pacific before opening the restaurant. His place was tropically themed, with rum-based cocktails and perhaps the first-ever ‘pu pu platter.’ The place quickly gained popularity, especially with Hollywood celebrities. Grantt’s inspiration was followed by Tiki cocktails such as Mai Tais, tiki mugs, Gilligan’s Island, Tiki themed bars and hotels, Tiki themed festivals such a Tiki Oasis in San Diego, ‘Polynesian inspired crab rangoon, and Rumaki.

10. Fast food

McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Jack in the Box, Panda Express, Del Taco, El Pollo Loco, Baskin Robbins, Carl’s Jr, In-and-Out Burger, Jamba Juice — California accounts for 10 of the 50 most popular chains in the USA. We are the fast food capital of the world. On second thought, I’m not sure you should be thanking us.

11. Your Apple computer’s OS X Yosemite background image, and oh yeah, Apple

Apple, not Yosemite, was started by Steve Jobs and others in his California garage and continues to be created and updated here in Cupertino.

12. West Coast Hip Hop

The West Coast hip hop scene began around 1978 with the founding of Unique Entertainment, and gave birth to artists like 2Pac, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Easy E, Ice Cube, Ice-T, N.W.A., Xzibit, Kendrick Lamar, Too $hort, Del the Funky Homosapien, Coolio, The Game, and many others.

13. Boobs in California

Sorry, not sorry.

14. Wetsuits

When surfing icon Jack O’Neill moved to San Francisco in the early 1950’s, he wanted to figure out how to spend more time in the cold Northern Pacific Ocean. He started playing around with different materials and invented the first neoprene wet suit. His friends thought the invention to be laughable, but little did they know that this creation would change the sport forever, allowing people to experience endless summers of surfing, even in places like the Pacific Northwest, Northern Europe and South America.

15. Mattel and Barbie

Harold Matson and Elliot Handler in an El Segundo garage workshop patented Mattel. In 1945. Matson sold his shares, and Elliot and his wife Ruth Handler took ownership of the company, producing various successful toys. In 1959, the Barbie doll was invented by Ruth Handler and named after the couples’ daughter, ‘Barbara.’ It was to serve as a teenage fashion doll. In 1961, the Ken doll was invented, named after their son. We can only hope their children had reproductive in real life.

Honorable mentions: Silicon Valley (home of Apple, Google, Facebook and many more), Coachella (Think mega-festival), California avocados, California wine, and agriculture in general.

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