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The Great Depression was a Rocky Road indeed. With scarce food, money and other resources, the world held on for a rough ride.
Take, for example, the company founded by brothers Paul and Joseph Galvin in 1928. The Galvin Manufacturing Corporation began producing the “battery eliminator” in Chicago. The device allowed owners of battery operated radios to bypass the use of batteries and use alternating current instead. With two-thirds of U.S. households using battery operated radios, it was a powerful device.
Then in 1930, Galvin Manufacturing Corporation began production of the first automobile radio called the Motorola. They later partnered with Ford to make the product available to newer models, all during the Great Depression.
Other innovations took place during the 1930s, too. The patent for the first dry electric razor was obtained on May 13, 1930, by Colonel Jacob Schick. He first had the idea for the razor in 1910, and through years of development and service in the military, Col. Schick brought his design to fruition. But first, he developed the Magazine Repeating Razor in 1925 and brought it to the market where it did quite well. Amid the Depression, he pursued the creation of Schick Dry Shaver, Inc. and opened a factory in Stamford, CT. The company slowly grew and is operated by Norelco, today.
During the Depression, how to stretch a meal became a talent of homemakers. Food companies who could speak that language made a lasting impression on the home economist. While several companies came through, there are several we still rely on today. A box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese sold for 19 cents in 1937 and providing four servings, that was a deal. That same year, Spam hit the grocery store aisles. While its popularity didn’t take off until World War II, the canned meat was an innovation credited to the Depression era.
Leading up to the Great Depression, Edwin Perkins was ironing out the kinks on his latest business venture – Kool-Aid. It was 1927, and his flavors raspberry, cherry, grape, lemon, orange, and root-beer needed packaging for the 1928 season and wholesalers to distribute his product. Perkins not only borrowed money against his home and business, but his family had borrowed money to help, too. The stakes were high.
The packaging was ironed out, the loans secured, the first season of his powered fruit drink a success, but then the Stock Market failed. But somehow, Kool-Ade did not. The demand for the flavored powdered drink mix grew, expanding Perkin’s business clear through the end of the Great Depression and well beyond.
The Great Depression brought about more than just a changed nation and world. From economics to Social Security and a National Park System, the Great Depression also prepared a resilient generation for an unrelenting World War II.