Today in 1820, Maine became a state.
It’s known for its long, gorgeous coastline, delicious blueberries, and, of course, long, cold winters – which helped a young inventor known as Chester Greenwood come up with a way to keep his ears – and many others – warm.
Greenwood was only 15 when he hit upon what is now the model for earmuffs.
He liked to go ice skating in his hometown of Farmington, Maine, but his ears were more susceptible to frostbite than most.
And while there were wool hats available with ear protection, he was allergic to wool.
So, he came up with a different idea.
He asked his grandmother to sew two patches for him, out of either beaver pelt or flannel, and to attach them to the ends of a wire ring that he could put on top of his head.
It wasn’t the first pair of earmuffs ever, but certainly the beginning of the earmuffs that we know today.
Greenwood, who would continue to invent new devices for the rest of his life, kept modifying and updating the basic design.
Eventually the earpieces were made of velvet, and he added special hinges that kept the earmuffs closer to the ears.
By age 18 Greenwood had a patent for his “ear mufflers,” which he would sell as Greenwood’s Champion Ear Protectors.
He opened a factory in Farmington to mass produce the now-popular winter accessories, though he still had locals hand-stitch the earpieces, the way his grandma had.
The town became known as the Earmuff Capital of the World.
Every December 21, when winter officially begins, Farmington holds Chester Greenwood Day, honoring its local inventor and entrepreneur with a parade and other winter activities.
Of course, if it’s extra cold that day, earmuffs are recommended.
There is a new world record for longest car.
The 100 ft 1.5 inch limo known as “The American Dream” beats the previous record set in 1986, by… the exact same car.
The vehicle has been in restoration for the last few years, but now it’s back on the road, assuming there are long enough roads for it to travel on.
Greenwood, Chester (Maine, An Encyclopedia)
The story of the modern-day earmuff and its inventor, Chester Greenwood (Washington Post)
World’s longest car, over 100 ft, restored to its former glory (Guinness World Records)
Photo from freestocks.org via Flickr