As Mother’s Day approaches, take a moment to appreciate your own mama — as well as these 5 entrepreneurial mothers who created innovative items we use every day. From frozen pizza to correction fluid, count on mothers to create something when there’s a need! Check out these 5 notable inventions by mothers.
1. Car heater
In 1893, Margaret A. Wilcox, a mom and mechanical engineer from Chicago (where we all know how cold it gets!) invented the car heater. In this first incarnation, a hole over the engine was used to harness hot air and point it toward the feet of passengers in the front seats. Later designs bettered the original, enhancing the temperature control mechanisms and air circulation, but this groundbreaking mama can still claim her design as the one upon which all other heaters based their models.
2. Frozen pizza
Little did Rose Totino know when she started her small Minnesota restaurant with her husband that she would be creating an empire — as well as one of the most ubiquitous items in American freezers: frozen pizza. Rose and her husband opened their family-owned pizzeria in 1951, and it became incredibly popular. There was such a high demand for their delicious pizza that it surpassed the amount the restaurant could handle. By the early 1960s, the family was mass-producing frozen pizzas, and before 1970, Totino’s frozen pizzas were the highest grossing ones around. In 1975, the Totinos sold their company to Pillsbury for over $20 million. Rose continued to be involved with the product, becoming Pillsbury’s first female corporate vice president. Then, when Rose was 78, she was invited to be the first woman in the Frozen Food Hall of Fame (yes, it’s real!). So the next time you grab a pizza from your freezer and pop it in the oven, think about the 4-foot-tall mother of 2 whose big dreams of a crisp crust made it possible.
3. Rear seat reminder
When you’re rushing, it’s easy to be distracted. But what if your car could actually remind you to check the backseat before locking up? Tricia Morrow, a mother of 2 young daughters, as well as a global safety strategy engineer for GMC, agrees it’s better to be safe than sorry. She was part of the team that created the Rear Seat Reminder, a device which will now come standard in most 2018 GMC models. The device works by sensing if the rear door has been opened within 10 minutes of starting the car. After the car has been turned off, a visual alert flashes on the dashboard, as well as an audible one, prompting the driver to check the backseat and make sure everyone’s out.
4. Unrolled toilet paper
File this invention under things you never thought you needed but are so glad to have! How many times have you found the roll of toilet paper completely unraveled by toddlers or pets? After re-spooling the toilet paper one too many times, Tamara Monosoff decided to take matters into her own hands. Thus, the TP Saver was born. It simply attaches to the roll of toilet paper and prevents it from unrolling. The device was so popular (selling more than $2 million worth in its first 2 years!) that Monosoff went on to found Mom Invented, an online community and company designed to showcase inventions by mothers.
5. Correction fluid
It may not be as popular now, but back in the day, everyone kept a bottle of correction fluid within reach of their typewriter. Bette Nesmith Graham was a single mother, secretary, and burgeoning inventor, who wasn’t the greatest typist. Tired of having to re-do entire pages because of one simple error, she created the correction fluid in her kitchen in 1951. Originally named “Mistake Out,” Liquid Paper® grew in popularity and was basically indispensable in homes and offices. The company exploded over the next 25 years, and in 1979, the Gillette Corporation bought the business for $48 million.