15 Everyday Items Most Didn’t Know Were Invented by the Military

Jeep Wranglers

Most of us take many daily devices for granted. The appliances and tools we take for granted were once life-changing items hundreds of years ago.

That being said, many of these tools and products were invented by our Military program. These items were intended to keep our soldiers safe, but eventually led to making our day-to-day life easier. The next time you are using one of the inventions, thank our defense program for making it possible.

1. Aerosol Bug Spray

Bug Spray
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The next time you have a cookout on your patio this summer, thank the Military for your precious bug spray. In World War II, soldiers in the South Pacific needed to kill deadly mosquitoes that carried malaria. U.S. scientists Lyle Goodhue and William Sullivan created an insecticide administered as a fine mist. The first aerosol can was patented in 1941 and nicknamed “bug bomb” by soldiers. Eighty years later, civilians use these sprays daily to avoid pesky mosquito bites.

2. Cheetos

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How many of you knew that the crunchy Cheetos treat that most people associate with lounging on the couch was invented for soldiers of WW II? It’s true. Soldiers overseas were homesick, and one of the things they missed the most was cheese (I can relate). The U.S. Military responded, and the birth of the now iconic snack was born in 1943.

George Sanders was created to introduce the dehydrated cheese snack. After the war ended, the Fritos company combined the newly developed cheese puff. By 1948, the Cheeto hit the stores, making it one of the most popular chips today.

3. Duct Tape

Duct Tape
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Almost everyone has a roll of trusty duct tape in their garage or junk drawer. Once again, you credit the Military for inventing this multi-functional tool. The Johnson & Johnson company teamed up with the Military to create an ultra-adhesive tape that would stand up to the harsh conditions of battle.

The company called the product ‘Duck Tape’ due to its waterproof features, but once workers began using it on air ducts, the name was switched to the modern name, ‘Duct Tape.’

4. Silly Putty

Silly Putty
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Back in the 1940s, Japan had invaded Malaysia, thus cutting off ties with the U.S. for valuable resources like rubber. The U.S. began experiments to make their own product, and a chemist at General Electric created a flexible, bouncy material made of boric acid and silicone oil.

While it was fun to play with, it had no commercial use. Peter Hodgson bought the manufacturing rights and changed the name to Silly Putty. The company sold the product packaged in small plastic eggs as a toy, and it was an instant hit. Since it hit the shelves in 1950, the company has sold over 350 million eggs.

5. Frozen Juice Concentrate

Minute Maid
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Frozen juice concentrates are widely popular today, but WW II soldiers referred to the first generation of these products as ‘battery acid.’ The product was bitter and turned an unappetizing brown color once it was thawed. It was not until USDA workers discovered adding a dash of fresh O.J. that the product became so much better.

In 1946, Minute Maid began selling frozen juice in grocery stores. Today, orange juice is the most widely consumed juice in the country.

6. The Jeep

Jeep Wranglers
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The famous 4×4 vehicle was invented by the Military in 1940 to satisfy the need for a lightweight reconnaissance vehicle. The American Bantam car company created the original vehicle and called it the G.P., short for General Purpose. Eventually, it adopted the moniker Jeep.

Over 600,000 Jeeps were made, and many of the surviving models were sold to the general public once the war ended. The iconic off-road machine sells thousands of models each year. It has expanded to sell other sports utility vehicles as well.

7. Aviator Sunglasses

Woman wearing Aviator Sunglass
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Before Tom Cruise made aviator sunglasses cool in Top Gun, pilots in the 1930s used them to protect their eyes from bright lights in high altitudes. Bausch & Lomb developed these aviation goggles and later re-branded them as Ray Bans in 1937, selling them to the general public.

By World War II, aviator sunglasses were a standard issue among G.I.s. Soon, Hollywood actors and models began wearing them. They quickly became a fashion statement and have been worn consistently for almost an entire century.

8. Weather Radar

weather radar on the Navigation Display screen
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It’s hard to believe, but the same weather technology used in WW II is still used today. In the 1930s, researchers discovered aircraft could disrupt a radio signal. This led to using radar to detect enemy planes during the war. The technological advancements led to hundreds of lives being saved by the Allied forces.

Scientists continued to develop the technology after the war concluded. This made it possible to detect oncoming storms and high winds faster, once again helping to keep people safe.

9. Super Glue

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You might be surprised to find that the Super Glue we use today was created by accident. Dr. Harry Coover was testing adhesives on a plastic reel sight. The chemist created the compound cyanoacrylate by accident, which would later be the main ingredient in Super Glue. However, initially, it was deemed unusable because it was too ‘sticky.’

Sixteen years later, in 1958, Super Glue was commercially sold in stores. The product was adopted by military surgeons in the Vietnam War, who would use it to stop bleeding and seal wounds. Today, we use it for minor household fixes. Still, Super Glue has earned its name as being Super.

10. Synthetic Rubber

Synthetic Rubber
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Before World War II, southern Asia was the prominent supplier of rubber to the Western world. When the Axis powers cut off rubber supply to the United States, the country began frantically searching for alternative options.

Obviously, the Military needed rubber for tires, but they also required the resources for airplanes, tanks, vehicles, and battleships. Luckily, companies like Firestone, Goodyear, and Standard Oil were up to the task of creating a replica product. The product they developed is a kind of synthetic rubber that we still use today.

11. Microwave Oven

Microwave Oven
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Here’s a fun fact: The technology used in microwaves was initially designed to locate enemies during the Second World War. It wasn’t until an engineer at defense contractor Raytheon Company working on microwave technology noticed his candy bar had melted. This gave him the bright idea of using the equipment to heat food rapidly. A year later, Raytheon put out the modern microwave’s first prototype.

By the 1970s, microwaves were a common household appliance. Today, 9 out of 10 households own one, making it one of the most popular inventions of the 20th century.

12. EpiPen

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Anyone with allergies should thank the United States Military for making this anecdote readily available. Inventor Sheldon Kaplan worked on survival items for the government, and his initial invention was the ‘ComboPen.’ The ComboPen was designed to deliver instant treatment to soldiers who were exposed to a nerve agent.

Kaplan later tweaked his recipe to inject epinephrine. This medicine can help people who go into anaphylactic shock due to an allergic reaction. Today, many people use these pens as a way to keep them alive until medics respond.

13. Walkie Talkies

Walkie Talkie
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In 1943, two-way talk radios were a groundbreaking invention. The ability to communicate with a hand-held radio helped change the way leaders communicated with their home bases. Galvin Manufacturing created the SCR-536, or ‘handie-talkie,’ and three years later, they helped develop the world’s first F.M. portable two-way radio. It was 35 pounds and had a range of 20 miles. Being able to walk and talk earned it the nickname, ‘Walkie Talkie.’

14. Sanitary Pads

Sanitary Pads
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Feminine products have existed since the 18th century, but it wasn’t until World War I that the U.S. Army developed a product that would become the standard. Due to a cotton shortage, the Army needed new padding for bandages during WWI.

Kimberly-Clark Co. used an absorbent material made from wood pulp to create cellucotton, the same compound used in Klennex products. This caught the eye of a Red Cross nurse who began using the product for menstruation purposes. After the war, the product was repurposed and became the leading brand in sanitary products.

15. GPS

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Explorers have been traveling the globe for thousands of years. Today, many of us can’t find our way home from Target without the GPS system in our cars. Well, once again, we can thank the U.S. Military for this technology.

In the 60s, the Department of Defense developed GPS by determining a user’s position on Earth compared to their distance from three peripheral satellites, a process known as trilateration. Thirty years later, in 1994, GPS was commercially accepted and put into civilian use. How many of us would be lost on a daily basis without this technology?


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