10 Huge Companies With Strange Beginnings

10 Companies With Surprising Origins 10 Nascar Ah, NASCAR

Despite all the mockery, it really is the working man’s motorsport But those roots go a lot deeper than you’d expect The sport actually dates back to prohibition times, when bootlegging was a huge part of the counterculture – and not to mention a major revenue stream for people in the south who were willing to risk their freedom to make booze by moonlight AKA “Moonshine” Part of the moonshine trade involved delivery men suping up their cars – partly so that they could better handle the load of all that booze, and partly to improve their performance

So, by the time prohibition ended in the 30s, there were scores of men left with vehicles that were all dressed up with nowhere to go But they still kept racing That said, it wasn’t until 1947 that one of the runners, Big Bill France, decided to introduce standardised rules to the practice Thus, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing was born! Now, fast forward to 2019 and NASCAR is a multi-BILLION dollar venture, running more than 1,500 races broadcast in 150 countries Not bad

9 Zildjian Drummers in the audience will know exactly what I’m talking about here, not to mention their bandmates who have to lug all their gear around for shows In any case, Zildjian is synonymous with high-quality cymbals We’re not sponsored by the way, my writer just likes them But that said – if you’re watching, Zildjian CEO John Stephans, let's talk numbers baby

Anyway, Zildjian isn’t just the industry leader because of its products – it’s also the oldest company of its type and one of the oldest continually operating businesses in the world – dating all the way back to the 17th century And that fact informs its weird origin – alchemy Yep, the search for gold through chemical experimentation led an Armenian metalworker named Avedis to a “top secret combination of metals” that formed “the perfect cymbal” And while they WERE of course used as percussion instruments, the Ottoman army also used them as weapons of WAR to frighten their enemies – which is pretty metal if you ask me 8

TGI Fridays Over the years, a lot of people have done a lot of things for… carnal reasons After all, in the words of the premiere poets of our time, Limp Bizkit: “I did it all for the nookie” So, not unlike that world-class word-smithery, let’s look at a world-class food eatery: TGI Fridays Back in 1965, on the precipice of the sexual revolution, founder Alan Stillman noticed that his Manhattan neighbourhood was full of eligible women like stewardesses, fashion models and secretaries This is turning into a bit of a red flag if I’m honest, but on with the story

But Stillman didn’t have any way of meeting these women, since his usual hangouts were with the boys – LADS LADS LADS Thus TGI Fridays was born as one of the very first singles bars, after he borrowed five Gs from his mother, took over a local bar and decked it out with nice chairs and the signature ferns as decoration Hmm, I wonder how we got from hip, forward-thinking singles bar to the purveyor of the most average burgers on the planet 7 Oneida Silverware I know what you’re thinking – what could possibly be strange about a silverware company? It’s just about the blandest product in history, save for cornflakes – more on that later – so what could possibly earn it a place on this list? Well, dear viewer, the answer is “free love sex cult

” Yep You see, 1800s America had a pretty sizeable movement towards communal living, one of which was the Oneida community in Upstate New York The group practised a complex approach towards marriage where basically everyone shacked up with everyone else Oh, and there was a bit of superbeing-based eugenics informing all the romping But when the GETTING BUSY wound down towards the end of the commune’s life, the members continued getting busy by incorporating into Oneida Limited – a silverware company that sold to clients who represented the exact opposite values to those of the socialist community

But despite there being such an odd origin, there’s a lot of credit to give Oneida Like in the commune, the company allowed women to be executives and board members, which was not at all common at the time 6 Nintendo Who does love Nintendo? Boomers aside, the games company is the home of some of the most iconic characters in history – like horse ape, waaaaaaaaaaaaa, and Zelda But long before Super Smash Bros, the company’s history became somewhat associated with another organisation you might not expect – the Yakuza, also known as Super Organised Crime Bros

For some context if you’re confused, Nintendo actually got its start making painted playing cards called Hanafuda, made from tree bark Those kinds of cards had been used since the 1500s, but they eventually fell out of favour until Nintendo began creating them again in the late 1800s The Yakuza took a particular interest in the cards and started using them in their gambling parlours, which helped re-popularise the game in Japan That was the case until the mid-60s, when the cards’ popularity waned and Nintendo began experimenting with ventures like taxis and “love hotels”, then toys, electronic products like programmable drum machines and finally video games when they had a hand in the Magnavox Odyssey console And the rest, as they say, is history

5 Flickr Nowadays, Flickr isn’t quite the beast it used to be Having been overtaken by Instagram long ago, the site mostly exists a storage repository for middle-aged amateur photographers to store their pics until the site inevitably goes under Even so, it was an internet GIANT not too long ago, but its origins couldn’t be any more obscure or pointless – literally Ludicorp, the original owner of Flickr before Yahoo’s purchase, actually started out by creating an application called ‘Game Neverending’ – which is exactly what it sounds like

First launched in 2002, this was a “light-hearted and humorous” role-playing game that had no purpose whatsoever You could interact with other players and manipulate objects, but nothing you could do would actually *ever* win you the game Sounds sadly similar to life to be honest But by the time the game closed shop in 2004 – which, by the way, isn’t exactly “neverending” – it became clear that the photo-sharing feature was the star of the show So Ludicorp went full steam ahead with their photo sharing, money-making venture, which eventually became a hot potato property – presumably because it’s hard to profit from a redundant service

4 Coca-cola As with many of the companies on this list, Coca-Cola is a brand that’s pretty much synonymous with its product, which is largely down to the fact that it’s the first-ever mass-market cola drink The company itself likes to talk up its inventor Dr John Pemberton’s goal to “make the world happier,” which he did indeed say That’s only part of the story though, but after this you’ll probably understand why

According to multiple biographies of Pember, the man was suffering from a crippling morphine addiction after a civil war injury Yep, the opioid crisis was even going on back then! America, am I right? So in an attempt to cure his experimenting with various drink formulas, he came upon a formula involving coca wine and cocaine, which was then sold as a “cure-all” nerve tonic in 1885 After his state of Georgia banned alcohol, the formula came to replace it with carbonated water and sugar – eventually dropping the cocaine much later But in any case, you have a gunshot and stab wound to thank for the most popular soft drink on the planet 3

Adidas When you hear the word “sneakers”, there’s a good chance that Adidas is one of the first things you think of – after all of the good brands of course But even so, the brand has a rich and illustrious history, full of rivalry, deceit, and uh… nazis Back in the 1920s, brothers Adi and Rudolph Dassler started the Dassler Brothers sports shoe company, which gained a huge following in Germany After the brothers joined the Nazi party in 1933, they even went on to supply sneakers to the Hitler Youth But over time, the Dassler Brothers’ began to feud more and more openly

Adi even had Rudolph locked up TWICE, once by the Nazi regime and once by the US after the denazification of Germany Once tensions grew too fierce, they split the company in 1948 – Adi forming Adidas and Rudolph creating Puma That rivalry went on to completely engulf their home town, where almost everyone worked for either Adidas or Puma and even began to cut off ties with people who worked for their rival That makes the windows/apple feud look like total chump stuff, let me tell ya 2

Astroglide Now you’re gonna have to bear with me here, since products of this nature are a little risque around these parts So, I’m gonna have to be very careful with my wording Anyway, lubrication is a pretty essential part of intimacy for a lot of people, so you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was the product of a lengthy scientific searchThat’s kiiiiiind of true, but it actually has nothing to do with anything sexy – in fact, quite the opposite Back on Edwards Air Force Base in 1977, NASA scientist Dan Wray was working on the cooling system for space shuttles when he came across a composition that supposedly mimicked the body’s natural fluids

He went on to sell the patent and eventually bought it back when the company went under in 1991 From there, that NASA invention put the glide in Astroglide So there we have it – next time you get busy, there’s a reasonable chance you’ll have the nerds over at NASA to thank 1 Kellogg’s Cornflakes are pretty much the epitome of bland

I mean, they’re up there with plain rice in terms of foods whose mere concept bores you to tears But you might not know that they weren’t sold in SPITE of their blandness, it was actually integral to the product You see, the 19th century was notoriously prudish Whether it was sex, masturbation or a mere peek at a lady’s ankle – you mucky pup – there was a strong movement against sexual and moral breakdown in society One of the big names in that movement was John Harvey Kellogg, a medical doctor, nutritionist, businessman and anti-onanism activist

Core to his buzzkill beliefs was the idea that bland foods could dull the senses – which seems like the opposite to me, surely the more deprived of enjoyment you are, the more het up you get? So he took to making his dream of celibacy a reality by partnering with his brother and the Battle Creek Sanitarium to sell the cornflakes we know today, in the belief that they would suppress sexual urges Boy, this guy sounds fun at parties

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