Sandy's Reviews > The Rejects

The Rejects by Nathan Aaseng
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Apr 09, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: nonfiction
Read from April 09 to 13, 2010

A fascinating little book, subtitled "People and Products That Outsmarted the Experts". This books tells about products that were initially failures, or predicted to be failures, that went on to become successful. From Jello-O, which at one point was offered to the plant supervisor for $35 (he turned it down), to the Federal Express, an idea which Fredrick Smith proposed in a research paper (which his professor gave a mediocre grade and said it was all wrong), this book presents an interesting picture of what someone with a good idea and perserverance, hard work and persistance can accomplish.

Others mentioned were Reverend Sylvester Graham, who promoted a simpler, cleaner, vegetarian life-style was called the "poet of bran bread and pumpkins" by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Graham invented the Graham cracker which was made from red winter wheat with tiny fragments of the whole grain spread throughout the dough, creating a pleasant crunch to it, and molasses as a sweetner. Now many of his dietary theories have become popular, but his graham crackers have gone to the other side being mass produced using the processed wheat products that Graham distrusted.

Gail Borden invented many things, some practical, some not. He designed a portable bathhouse so that women could change into and out of swim wear on the beach. He also built a wheel in the center of his dining room table so that dishes could easily be swung around to each diner. He had also had failures such as the "Terraqueous Wagon", built with four wheels, sails, and a rudder so that it could travel on both land and water, and the "flat meat biscuit" which tasted awful. On a rough voyage home to the U.S. from London when the ship's cows became too sick to give milk was the impetus for his invention of canned milk which was aided by a visit to the Shakers where he learned about their copper vacuum pans.

Other ideas were DeWitt Wallace's "Reader's Digest", Clarence Birdseye (prounced BIRDS-ee)with his frozen food, Charles Darrow's Monopoly game which Parker Brothers game company rejected with 53 reasons why the game would never sell (later Parker Brothers changed their mind and bought the game), Chester Carlson's Xerox machine,William Lear's "Lear Jet" and Orville Redenbacher's overpriced popcorn.

One intereting fact I learned was that the "hub and spokes" routing system now used by passenger airlines was copied from Fred Smith's idea used in delivering packages via Federal Express (now called FedEx).

An interesting read for sure....
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