Posted on 20/11/2014

The Trampoline, Richter Scale and delicious Chocolate Chip Cookies: 1930s

The 1930s brought a decade of exciting innovation. From the ground-breaking Richter Scale to the first taste of the Chocolate Chip Cookie, there really were no limits to what could be achieved.

The trampoline

The year 1934 saw the invention of George Nissen’s and Larry Griswold’s modern trampoline which spiraled into a summersault of success for the duo.

While at the circus, George Nissen saw that the trapeze artists would fly through the air, dropping at the end of an act into safety netting that would send them rebounding up into somersaults or other impressive moves. Nissen realised that if a similar apparatus was created for gymnasts, it would allow them to perform more complex moves.

In his back yard in the early 30s, George used scrap parts to stretch canvas onto a crude frame with springs made with rubber strips from inner-tube tyres. He took it with him to his summer job as a YMCA camp counsellor and proceeded to sell ten that year.

He then incorporated the Nissen Trampoline Company and over the next 20 years he turned it into the world’s largest gymnastics equipment manufacturer. Many of his patents came with the development of the top-of-the-line chrome-plated gym apparatus that is still used worldwide.

The Richter scale

In 1935, American seismologist Charles F. Richter developed the Richter scale, along with his partner Beno Gutenberg, to measure the intensity of earthquakes.

Richter was a pioneer in seismological research at a time when information on the size and location of earthquakes was scarce. He authored two textbooks that are still used as references in the field and are regarded by many scientists as his greatest contribution. Devoted to his work all his life, Richter at one time had a seismograph installed in his living room, and he welcomed queries about earthquakes at all hours.

Choc-chip cookies

Delightful news for those with a sweet tooth! Ruth Wakefield is the lady we should give thanks to for the invention of chocolate chip cookies. With her husband, she ran the Tollhouse Inn in Massachusetts, a small diner and rest house. The common story goes that Wakefield, who often made food for her guests, decided to make a chocolate butter cookie but didn’t have enough chocolate bars to produce one. Instead, she chopped up the bars and added them to the butter cookie recipe.

The resulting cookies were an immediate success, and became known to locals as ‘Tollhouse Cookies’. They became so popular, that Nestlé purchased the recipe with the rights to print it on its chocolate bars. In exchange, Wakefield received free chocolate for life. At that point, the chocolate chip cookies didn’t contain actual chocolate chips, but instead they had chunks of chopped chocolate.

Nestlé had some popularity with the Wakefield’s chocolate chip cookies, but the recipe became far easier to follow when, in 1939, the company developed the standard chocolate chip, then known as a chocolate morsel.

Wilson Gunn