It's back to school time across the country, and everyone's heading to the store for notebooks, pencils and backpacks. But the inventors of America have some slightly more offbeat ideas for you. How about a banana suitcase to keep your lunch fresh? Or a computerized candy dispenser to help motivate your studying? Here are 11 patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office archives for fun supplies that may not have made the list.
Concussion Alarm Clock
If a regular alarm just doesn’t rouse you in time, how about this 1882 patented “device for waking persons from sleep?” It consists of a frame suspended above the head of a bed. From the frame dangle cords with soft wood or cork blocks attached to their ends. The frame itself is attached to a clock; when the clock strikes the appointed hour, the frame drops, hitting the sleeper in the face with the blocks. That’ll teach you to oversleep!
A Better Cereal Bowl
What better way to start your school day than with a big bowl of crispy corn flakes or Cheerios? And what worse way to start it than with a bowl of soggy mush? Keep your cereal crispy with this device, wherein fresh cereal in the upper bowl is portioned out at intervals into the lower, milk-filled bowl, thus avoiding the dreaded sogginess.
In-the-Car Coffee Maker
This one’s for the parents. Pep up the carpool drive with a cup of joe brewed right in your vehicle, “without taking attention from the road.” The cup comes with a splash guard for safe highway guzzling. This was patented in 1993, before there was a drive-through Starbucks on every corner.
Backpacks are so passé. Carry your lip balm, pencils, phone and so on in this cyborg-y wrist pouch, patented in 2001.
Who needs a desk when you can convert your own backpack into a “structurally rigid chair of normal household size?” A 2006 patent describes this two-in-one apparatus.
Magnetic Locker Wallpaper
Another invented-by-a-kid concept, this crayon holder lets you keep drawing with the bits of broken crayon that would otherwise end up as flotsam on the bottom of your crayon bucket. It was the brainchild of 11-year-old Cassidy Goldstein, who got a licensing deal for her invention and earned enough money to put herself through college.
Motivational Candy Dispenser
Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like. A banana-shaped case for “storing and transporting a banana carefully.” Because nobody likes mushy bananas in their lunch box, right?
Jazz up jazz band practice with a trumpet that emits real flames. On second thought, probably better you don’t. In fact, please don't.