Items People Used From The Past You’d Never Want To Try

It’s safe to assume that most of you have heard of, or had, some pretty crazy inventions that don’t do a great job doing at what they were intended to do. But wait till you get a load of some of the garbage ideas people peddled back in the days before even color TV.

Amphibious Bicycle

©Nationaal Archief

Dubbed the Cyclomer, this vehicle launched in Paris in 1932 with hollow wheels that doubled as floats. However, it failed for obvious reasons – because it couldn’t get much traction on land or in the water. At least it was the impetus of amphibious bikes that are used today. But the ones today are a lot better, though still not perfect.

Inflatable Life Vests From Old Tires

©Nationaal Archief

Get a load of this wannabe bondage equipment pictured in Germany back in 1925. While you have to admire them for recycling, turns out a bunch of tires around your chest don’t keep you afloat that well. Oddly enough, throughout history, people tried variations of these vests which all had… Interesting outcomes…

Wooden Swim Suits

The US had a similar crazy invention to the tire vests in the 1920s.

©Nationaal Archief

These spruce wood swimsuits were a real thing; it’s meant to create a floating effect for the less skilled swimmers of the time. Imagine getting a splinter…!

Electrically Heated Jacket

©Nationaal Archief

Made in the 1930s, these jackets weren’t all that bad, to be honest. But they were apparently powered by “electric contacts in the street”, which nobody can decipher the meaning of. Not surprisingly, these things have improved over the years. You can buy yourself a rather efficient one nowadays. Still, if your jacket isn’t keeping you warm on its own, you should probably consider getting another one.

Sunglasses from the Past

©Julian Idrobo

Also called Snow Googles, these beauties were primarily used by the Inuit and the Yupik peoples of the Arctic in order to prevent snow blindness. They’re dated back to around 2000 years ago and were traditionally made from spruce, bone and sometimes ivory. Some people even used a mix of soot and oil on the outside to cut down on the glare.

The Fly Pistol


This crazy invention was meant more as a fun toy of sorts where you could challenge yourself to kill insects from a distance, but naturally, it failed miserably. Honestly, you would have a better chance of holding insecticide in your mouth and spitting at the bugs…That was a joke, please don’t sue me.

Old-Timey Toilet Paper

While Toilet paper as a commodity was first introduced in 1857 – yes it took them that long – it was actually invented in China somewhere around the 6th century.

©Mario Ohibsky 

The idea was rather radical to use paper for such a purpose. Before it was thought up, people used everything from leaves to stones and even seashells. That’s got to feel like having a barbed wire rubbed on your behind!

Around the time of Colonial America, people had progressed to corncobs, hay, and even old newspapers and catalogs, until around the 20th century. Even by 1935, toilet roll companies were advertising their paper as “Splinter-Free!”, so you should feel blesses with what we have today!

via Imgur

The Baby Dangler

©Cake Head Loves Evil

While not much is known about this glorified slingshot, it looks like it enjoyed some use during the start of the 20th century. The premise was sort of cute to be honest. But this crazy invention was essentially a giant health risk for the child. Today you can see a safer version of this in the form of baby carriers so I guess something good came from it.

The Baby Cage

©Hulton Collection

As weird as it may be, these things were extremely popular back in the 1930s since they were promoted as healthy ‘airing’ products for your child. They were supposed to toughen babies to withstand common colds and the elements.  The invention spread from America to London in a short time span but declined after that due to health concerns. Not least because they were used in smog-filled London – definitely not creating their desired effects.

Hair Growth Hat

The 20th century had a boom of hair growth products for some reason, but none is stranger than this pope hat rip-off invented by Alois Merke.


These inventions used big lightbulbs used to heat the top of the scalp and somehow stimulate hair growth by increasing blood flow to your scalp. While it may induce quicker hair growth, which is why your hair grows quicker in the summer, it’s unlikely you’d re-grow hair that has been lost.


©Atlas Obscura

This gift from the heavens was made in 1964 by Reddi-wip. They were small packages of 8 pieces of bacon which could be toasted to have feast ready in about 90 seconds. Unfortunately, these packages were prone to leaking. It would, in the worst-case scenario, damage your toaster beyond repair.

Smoking Umbrella


Invented in the 1950s, this little gem was actually one in a long line of variations that never seemed to catch on. The basic principle was to attach a small pipe with an umbrella to your cigarette so you could have a dry smoke. But sadly for this product, people realized that they had the power to stand under stuff.

Cook and Wash Refrigerator


Invented in 1952, this tiny little box was a 5 square foot wide kitchen that packed a decent punch. It came with different variations such as gas or electric burners and also the ability to remove the stove and thus defeat the whole purpose of the product. But the idea seems to have stuck over the years since you can see many kitchen combinations out there especially when it comes to washing machines and stoves.

The Dog Squeezer


The purpose of this 1940’s product was to restrain your sweet little puppy by squeezing its ribs into submission. But what’s even worse, is if you didn’t squeeze enough then the dog would just run away like nothing happened. Now while this does border on animal cruelty, you’ll be happy to know that this product never made it past the prototype stage.

Wonder Sauna Hot Pants


These were a pair of inflatable pants invented in the 70’s that you would pull up to your waist and inflate until they looked as advertised and then…Well, then you just sit and wait. The whole principle is that you will burn off fat by sweating and sitting in your own filth for hours. But to see how big of a rip-off this was, just look at the logo in the advert. Looks official right? Well, that’s the Amateur Athletic Union and not some huge football club.

Bicycle with Sewing Machine for Mom

©Modern Mechanix

Invented by Charles Steinlauf and presented in 1939, this was one of many pieces he and his family showed off in Chicago from the 30’s up until the ’60s. While the whole thing would essentially be a death sentence to drive around today, it did serve its main purpose; that was to make the citizens of Chicago smile.

The Portable Sauna


Available in 1964’s France, these glorified gym bags were another form of weight loss products that spawned a lot of imitators you can buy today. The invention was pretty simple as it was just a zip bag that pumped steam inside the enclosed space. But it was actually the first of its kind to do it. While today’s versions are much better and safer, this vintage sauna was a cheap luxury everyone wanted.

The Flying tank


The Antonov A-40 is one of the best vodka-soaked invention from Russia during WW2. It was actually built. It was meant to be an invasion type vehicle where a normal tank would be strapped to a glider and let loose from a plane. Sadly, it was way too heavy and the only test launch had to be aborted halfway.

1920’s Swim Mask


While not much is known about this nightmare, the most accepted answer is that it was made for white people to stay white. Back in the day, having really pale skin was extremely attractive. That explains a lot of the giant swimsuits and this thing as well. Luckily, it never really became popular and died off with our racist past.

Beauty Micrometer

©BBC News

Used by professional make-up artists in the 1930s, this tiny iron maiden used a bunch of pseudo-science to define key areas of the face where make-up should be added. The device was actually very intricate and allowed for 325 adjustments in order to give precise measurements. The most important thing was for the height of the nose and forehead to be equal.

The Dimple Maker

©Modern Mechanix

Invented in 1936, this was a simple device that pressed two knobs into the sides of your face till you were satisfied with your dimples. Not only did this thing fail miserably when it comes to creating or improving dimples, but there have also been claims that its prolonged use caused cancer.

Face Bleaching Mask

©Mary Evans

This invention from 1875 was used to bleach your skin and remove imperfections. The mask would have been used overnight. It was actually fitted tightly around the persons face in order to better preserve their skin.

Motorized Roller Skates

via Imgur

Oddly enough, these things were very popular back in 1956 and they did in fact spawn variations that you can buy today. They were able to reach up to 65 km/h but were sadly slowed down by the large engine. But they had an even bigger problem. Even though you could ride them smoothly outside; the invention didn’t really provide the user with a way to stop.

The Scalp Molester

©CBC News

While this invention is harmless, albeit useless, it is downright creepy since it boasts itself as having 80 artificial fingers. The purpose of the invention was to provide a relaxing massage to the user. A slight drawback is that you had to move the damn thing yourself.

Shower hood


Invented in the 1970s, this obvious piece of hazmat equipment was used to protect your hair during showering. The size of it might be because of wavy hair being extremely popular in the 70s and thus requiring extra space to house the waves. While it is still a bit overdoing it, you have to appreciate the thoughtfulness of the inventor.

Vibrating Rubber Finger


While today you will probably have to pay a bit more than 7$ for something like this, the vibra-finger still provided some extra use than what your perverted mind might think. Said to be recommended by dentists, this product was meant to stimulate your gums and, through that, provide you with a cleansed and refreshing feeling along with improved circulation.

Solar Bath


This thing was said to cure ‘disease of the head’ which could honestly mean anything back in 1933. The device claims to use ultraviolet rays aimed at the head in order to cure any disease you may have at the time. It boasts its success in Germany at that time. But given that it was used in 1933, this wasn’t the worst thing that came from Germany in that decade.

The Ice Mask

©James Vaughan

As shocking as it may seem, this thing has actually spawned a lot of copycats that you can get today. Invented in 1947, the general idea of this was to help people with hangovers or headaches by applying tiny ice cubes all over the persons face without inconveniencing them too much. It was immensely popular in Hollywood back in the 40’s and the variations on the market today are said to actually work well.

The Isolator


Essentially, this gem from 1925 was invented by Hugo Gernsback. It was a giant helmet with an oxygen tank that would help you block out any sights or sound so you can focus on your work. The biggest problem with this is that it was marketed as a study or focus aid, but it actually blocked a lot of your vision which made the whole situation worse.



Back in ancient times, tampons would be made out of papyrus, wool or just about anything remotely absorbent which be really uncomfortable for the woman using it. But if the bad material wasn’t enough, they would sometimes have to be fixed using bandages because the designs didn’t fit all that well. But the mother of all horrible ideas for tampons has to go to Egypt since they actually used Elephant dung and Goose fat by inserting it inside the vaginal canal in order to help with heavy flows.

©Denish C

Which crazy invention did you think was the most ridiculous? Or do you know any other crazy inventions I should have mentioned? Let me know in the comments down below. Thanks for reading!

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