The Exciting Inventions Of The 1904 World’s Fair!
By Brian, Jeremy, Matt, and William
One of the anniversaries being celebrated in St. Louis is the 100th anniversary of the St. Louis 1904 World's Fair. The 1904 World's Fair was officially called the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (“Terry's 1904 World's Fair”). It was the celebration of the purchase of a large part of land from France by the United States. The World's Fair brought many cultures from all around the world to see the big fair in our hometown. There were many booths and attractions at the World's Fair, but most people don’t know that some of today's most common food products were introduced at the World's Fair.
There are several stories about various foods and drink products introduced at the 1904 World's Fair. Richard Blechynden, the man who invented iced tea, gave out samples of his creation to fair visitors. The soft drink, Dr. Pepper, named after a Waco Texas pharmacist, debuted at the fair. It was called "The King of Beverages" (“World's Fair Exposition”).
This next invention has nothing to do with foods, but is an interesting fact. The comic characters, Buster Brown and Mary Jane, gained a new prominence at the fair. Richard Fenton Outcault had created Robert Buster Brown, and Buster Brown's sister Mary Jane and his talking dog Tige, in 1902 (“Worlds Fair Expositions”). Ice Cream cones were invented at the fair and gained marketability with the name "World's Fair Cornucopias." The ice cream salesman used waffles from the waffle salesman as cones because they ran out of bowls to carry the ice cream. Hence, the name "Ice Cream Cones" (“Terry’s 1904 Worlds Fair”).
A few modern day snacks were also introduced at the fair. William Morrison and John C. Wharton invented Cotton Candy, the fluffy snack. They sold the snack at the fair in huge amounts for 25 cents per box (“Technology at the World's Fair”). The forerunner of the Popsicle, called "Fruit Icicles," was also sold on the pike. The Fruit Icicles were frozen fruit juice in narrow, tin tubes that refreshed many people (“Technology at the World's Fair”).
Some other inventions were tabletop stoves, dishwashers, and other laborsaving devices. New breakthroughs from the engineering department promoted new developments in electrical, steam, gas power and machinery that took the place of human work in some places. Advances in the technology of transportation displayed at the World’s Fair highlighted locomotives, automobiles, air brakes, new uses for electricity, airplanes, and plans for the Hudson River tunnel. There was even an electric gate at the front of the fair (“Technology At The 1904 Worlds Fair”).
In the homes of St. Louisans, these inventions really helped out. In 1904, the year of the fair, a National Child Labor committee was formed to end widespread use of labor. Technological advances that made machinery easy to operate were one of the reasons adult labor was being replaced by child labor in factories throughout the United States (“Technology At The 1904 Worlds Fair”).
There were also some new automobiles and ships on display at the fair. Almost 80,000 square feet were devoted to automobiles. Modern European and American engines were tested for comparative efficiency. The time and place was most fortunate, because foreign and domestic locomotives were available at the fair. Since the attendance and assistance of the leading mechanical engineers of the world were assured, the tests were truly international in character (“Technology At The 1904 Worlds Fair”).
The principle of sending electrical signals along wire was brand new at the fair, and its discovery amazed people. Some thought it was witchcraft or black magic. Just the idea of being able to talk without having to be quite so close together was amazing on its own. New laws had to be passed before the wireless telegraph went into common use. It would undoubtedly play a great part in intercommunication (“World's Fair Expositions”).
The fair had 80 snack concession stands and 35 fashionable restaurants to feed many hungry visitors. Most of the fashionable restaurants are still standing this day. The inventions and food products introduced then are now modern day food products eaten at home or at special events. Who knows? Maybe 100 years from now there will be another World's Fair, and many more inventions will be introudced. The future can only tell (“World's Fair Exposition”).
“Louisiana Purchase Exposition.” 1996. Grolier Media Encyclopedia. Parkway School Library. Chesterfield, MO. Jan. 2004
“Technology At The 1904 Worlds Fair.” Jim Zwick 1996. Boondocks Encyclopedia Data Base. Parkway School Library. Chesterfield,
MO. 21 Jan 2004 <www.Boondocksnet.com/expos/louisianatechnology.html>.
“Terry’s 1904 World’s Fair.” 1998. Tlaupe Networks. Parkway School Library. Chesterfield, MO. 8 Feb 2004
“World’s Fair And Expositions.” 2000. Boondocks encyclopedia. Parkway School Library. Chesterfield, MO 9 Feb 2004.