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Where Disposable Diapers Came From

firsts-wilson-casey-origins-of-everyday-things-that-changed-the-worldTrivia Guy Wilson Casey has built a career on trivial matters. He writes a syndicated column, has published several books and manages this website. He’s even made it into that least trivial of trivia lists, the Guinness Book of Worlds Records for a record he set after broadcasting a trivia show for 30 hours straight.

So! For for the budding trivia-lover you know, and if you know a 10-year-old you know at least one, Casey’s book of firsts might make a fun gift.

Firsts: Origins of Everyday Things That Change the World is 200+ pages of firsts you (1) didn’t know and (2) didn’t even know you didn’t know. Which is the point of trivia, no?

My favorite, which will no doubt conjure up a scene from Mad Men Season 2: the disposable diaper. Housewife Marion Donovan of Westport, Conn.,  made a prototype from a shower curtain. A couple of years later she further refined the idea, pitched it, got laughed at (by men who never changed or washed diapers) and went into business for herself. She sold the company in 1951 for a million bucks.

Other interesting firsts: first fast-food hamburger chain (hint: NOT McDonald’s); first social security number (loads of zeros); first music video.

My 8-year-old and I thumbed through it together — some parts are more interesting than others. The book could use many, many more pictures, but it’s a fun flip-through book. Possibly great for the bathroom as well.

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