Isn’t it amazing how the pursuit of one invention can lead to another? And what I find even more spectacular is that some of these accidental finds can lead to something really rather fun. Take for example water balloons. Honestly speaking, there’s hardly a more satisfying feeling than landing a balloon filled with water on the head of your sister, especially if she isn’t expecting it. These fun soaking toys that can be enjoyed by children aged between 3 to 93 were the result of an accidental discovery, a bit like this one. And the original intended use of them is far from where they ended up. Water balloons were originally supposed to be waterproof socks.
OK, I’ll give you a moment to recover from the WTF factor here before we move on with this fact. So the obvious question here is, why would anyone want to make waterproof socks? It’s just weird isn’t it? Well, not completely.
Most of us would have experienced wet socks at some point in our lives. It makes for an uncomfortable feeling, and if the weather is on the cool side, like the mercury, the comfort can plummet. But that’s about as bad as it ever gets for most of us. A little discomfort, but that’s about it. However, there’s a condition, a very serious medical condition, in fact, that can be caused by extended periods of having wet feet. That condition is trench foot, a debilitation condition that arises from having ones feet submerged in water for long periods of a time. If left untreated it can result in gangrene and amputation.
English inventor Edgar Ellington obviously saw a problem, and like all inventors, he thought that he could solve the problem. And the solution as far as he was concerned was simple enough. A latex rubber sock that could be worn over your existing socks. In theory, it would keep the moisture out, and the feet dry. But as everyone knows, thin latex is near impossible to stretch without breaking, and as such you can imagine the trouble that he had.
It wasn’t all bad news for Ellington. He was able to make a foot sized sock, which wouldn’t have been that difficult. But he couldn’t get them to stay on without tearing them, rendering them useless. As much as he tried, every attempt ended in failure until that is, he managed to get one on and off his foot without a visible tear.
I think you can see where we’re going here, visible. He managed to delicately peel the sock off his foot without making a massive hole. To check how effective it was at keeping water out, he filled the used sock with water. However, his initial anticipation at a successful test turned to a massive disappointment when he noticed a small leak in the bottom of the waterproof sock.
Like all level headed inventors, he grabbed his water filled invention and hurled it across his lab in frustration. When it impacted, or should we say awesomely impacted, it gave him a brand new idea. Forget waterproof socks, water balloons had just been discovered.
Ellington made a few minor changes to his design and sold them to the public as “water grenades.” He ditched his failed attempt at a foot saving device and made one amazingly fun product to take its place. I suppose those found stuck in water could always try using a condom. They’re waterproof and stretch.