It was this month in 1936 that a guy in Knoxville, Tennessee started promoting his newly-invented giant trash receptacle, which he had named the dumpster.

The inventor’s name was George Dempster, and his company was called Dempster Brothers.

With holiday shopping coming up, he was trying to convince the city that they could do a better job collecting trash if there were really big containers available for shops to use instead of putting small bins out in the alley or on the curb.

He called them Dempster Dumpsters, which would be small by today’s standards.

They held under 40 cubic feet of stuff, but they were definitely more handy than the standard trash can of the time.

Of course, it wasn’t hard for Dempster to sell the city on his idea because he also happened to be Knoxville’s city manager at the time.

Nonetheless, a good idea is a good idea, and Knoxville thought this was a good one.

Later they would elect Dempster their mayor, almost certainly on a platform that he knew how to clean up the city.

Today you can find dumpsters all over the world.

That’s especially true online, where the phrase “dumpster fire” has become a common way to describe a disastrous situation.

Large waste receptacles really can catch fire, there have been news reports about fires in dumpsters for decades.

But “dumpster fire” started to gain popularity as a metaphor in the early 2000s, especially among fans of poorly-performing sports teams or really bad movies.

The phrase went mainstream in the mid-2010s, when people started to use it in regard to politics, and it ended up in the dictionary in 2018.

So in under a century, the dumpster has become logistically and linguistically indispensable,.

There’s apparently a new effort in northern China to keep nighttime drivers awake and alert: it’s a light show with a series of colorful laser patterns shining over the road.

But you also don’t want to get distracted by the lights and forget to focus on the road!

Dempster Dumpster (Fire) (Visit Knoxville)

Congratulations, everybody: ‘Dumpster fire’ is now a dictionary entry, and here’s why (Washington Post)

These Laser Lightshows On Chinese Highway Are Meant To Keep Drivers Awake (Jalopnik)

Back our show on Patreon to make sure it never becomes a dumpster fire

Photo by Tony Cyphart via Flickr/Creative Commons