The perm. Yep, we’re talking about the hairstyle. We can all thank Karl Ludwig Nessler (born in Germany, died in New Jersey, he called himself Charles Nessler) for the permanent wave, that stinky, often disastrous hairdo that uses chemicals to break and then reform the bonds of the hair.
He invented the process in 1905 after working on the idea since 1896, using a mixture of cow urine and water. Before his invention, only wigs could be set that way because the chemicals were too harsh for human skin. Then, luckily, Nessler’s slick invention only involved applying sodium hydroxide to hair that was wrapped in about 12 2-pound brass rollers, then heating it to 212 degrees and letting it sit for about six hours. We think we’d just buy the wig.
Ring binders. Perhaps not very exciting, but where would you have been without them back in your college days? You probably don’t know how late the school staple dates back, however. In 1886 — 126 years ago — Friedrich Soennecken invented the two-ring binder in Germany (followed by his invention of the hole punch later that year, of course). We one-upped the Germans a few years later by adding one more ring, which became the standard in the United States and loved by students everywhere.
Gummy bears. That little, rubbery confection in the shape of a bear was created by Hans Riegel Sr., a German candy maker from Bonn, who started the Haribo company in 1920. He actually invented the “Dancing Bear” fruit- flavored gum in 1922, and running with its popularity, created the famous Gold-Bears candy product (“Gummibarchen,” or “little rubber bear”) in 1960, that we so enjoy today.
Aspirin. The Germans make the best beer in the world, which has its consequences when you drink a little too much. Luckily, ol’ Felix Hoffmann, a chemist with the German company Bayer, developed the drug to relieve minor aches and pains — like the pounding in your head — in 1897.
Heidi Klum. Between appearances in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and her hosting gig on “Project Runway,” Klum has near equal appeal across gender lines. And thanks to her recent divorce from Seal, she’s newly single (and dating her bodyguard, but that’s probably just a rebound thing). We just want her to be happy, so she’ll keep doing swimsuit shoots and saying “auf wiedersehen” to designers.
Chicken Fried Steak. We don’t want to cause any arguments here, since the precise origins of the dish are unclear, but many sources attribute chicken fried steak’s development to German and Austrian immigrants who brought recipes for wiener schnitzel to Texas in the 19th century. Then we took it up a notch, fried the heck out of it and smothered it in gravy, and named it somethin’ country.
Luxury cars. Bayerische Motoren Werke (we’ll just call it BMW), Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Volkswagen.
The automobile industry is one of the largest employers in Germany, which is also considered the birthplace of the automobile, since Karl Benz and Nikolaus Otto independently developed internal combustion engines in the late 1870s.
Benz fitted his design into a coach in 1887, which led to the modern-day car, and one that the Germans continue to make remarkably well.