HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! The American Red Cross turns 133 years old today and we’re celebrating in West Michigan by sharing some of the things that have been around before.. or after 1881. During this gathering process, I’ll admit, someone said to me “Is there anything older than the Red Cross?” We have been around a long time, but not THAT long! Here’s a look at some of our predecessors, followed by a few who are a bit younger than the Red Cross.
1. Harvard University – This Ivy League was founded on September 8, 1636, making it about 2 centuries older than the American Red Cross and 140 years older than the United States of America.
2. The First Chocolate Easter Egg – It’s hard to imagine an Easter Sunday without this staple, but the first chocolate Easter egg didn’t make its appearance until 1875. Cadbury released its first line of chocolate Easter eggs that year, which were hollow and filled with sugared almonds. That also makes the Cadbury company older than the American Red Cross. It was founded in 1824 in the United Kingdom.
3. The Telephone – Like many inventions, the exact year and inventor of the telephone can be debated, however credit is often given to Alexander Graham Bell as he was the first person to receive a patent for the device in 1876. Who knew these would eventually also turn into calculators, calendars, and blog reading devices?!
4. The World’s Oldest Tortoise – Meet 182-year-old Jonathan. He’s a Seychelles giant tortoise who is nearly 50 years OLDER than the American Red Cross. Jonathan lives on the South Atlantic island of Saint Helena, where his image is on the back side of the local 5 pence coin. While he’s definitely old, he’s doesn’t quite have the record for living the longest but he’s getting there. The all-time verified record holder for oldest tortoise, according to Guinness World Records, is Tui Malila who died in 1965 at the age of 189. Come on, Jonathan! Just 8 more years to go!
AND NOW THE YOUNGER…
1. Sliced Bread – You’ve heard it said before: “It’s the greatest thing since sliced bread!” but the American Red Cross has actually been around 47 years longer than sliced bread! The first package was sold in 1928, when the American Red Cross was already 47 years old. And an interesting fact I found during my research… did you know sliced bread was banned in 1943 in the U.S.? It was part of a wartime conservation measure but it didn’t last long. Just about a month and a half, actually. Thank goodness!
2. World’s Oldest Car – So this may not come as much of a surprise, however, I was pretty amazed at how close this one was! The oldest car in the world was actually produced in 1884 in France. Just 3 years behind the founding of the American Red Cross in 1881. It’s called the La Marquise and runs on coal, wood, and scraps of paper. Top speed: 38 mph, but give yourself lots of time; it takes 30-40 minutes for the car to build up enough steam to run. The car is still around today. In fact, in 2011 it sold for a record price at $4.6 million.
3. Johnson & Johnson – From Band-Aids, to Listerine, to baby shampoo… Johnson & Johnson is probably the best known first aid-type brand in the country. They’ve been around since 1887, 6 years after the founding of the American Red Cross, and you may notice the Red Cross on their packaging. They have special rights to use the emblem since they trademarked it before 1905. The Red Cross symbol is now protected by U.S. law for the use of the American Red Cross and the U.S. military.
4. The Hershey’s Kiss – Apparently I was in a chocolatey mood when I wrote this (see chocolate easter eggs), but with this being such a popular candy I just couldn’t leave it out! The Hershey’s Kiss was invented in 1907, when the American Red Cross was just entering its mid-20’s. This was actually Milton Hershey’s first chocolate concoction; before that he was a caramel-making guy. It wasn’t until 1928 that the kisses were miniaturized and transformed into chocolate chips and it took another 11 years for those to be incorporated into cookies – making the first chocolate chip cookie coming to existence in 1938.
Who wants some milk? Cheers to the American Red Cross and here’s to another 133 years of humanitarian efforts!