Innovations made during the Second World War are still with us today – and some of them may surprise you!  A really entertaining and enlightening chat with Craig Suter, author of “The Inventor’s War; The Durable Ideas and Innovations of World War Two.”

In order to find information for this compilation Craig had to read over 450 other books, period magazine stories and even research old newspaper advertisements.

Some of these innovations came about due to an obvious need; pressurized cabins so that bombers could fly above enemy anti-aircraft fire, sunscreen for the troops in the withering Pacific campaign and radio controlled machinery. But others..well listen to the podcast but here are some teasers.

  • The filling in Twinkies was originally banana flavored but replaced with the recently invented artificial vanilla while there was a shortage of banana transports during the war. When bananas once again became readily available, the manufacturer tried to switch back but consumers liked the vanilla better.
  • M&M’s found their way into soldiers rations but the only color was violet because it was one of the few dyes not rationed.
  • Duct Tape resulted from the Army’s request for an item to keep ammunition dry in wooden crates. But creative field troops soon found it convenient for covering airplane gun ports and the ventilation ducting in planes and automobiles. That is how it got its name.
  • One of my favorite childhood toys – The Slinky – actually came about by accident when an engineer working on a method of protecting vital electronics of warships. He accidentally knocked over a prototype and watched in amazement as it “walked” off the workbench.


Perhaps my favorite is the amazing story of Ralph Teetor.  Blinded as a child he nonetheless went on to become an engineer responsible for some of the innovations we enjoy today.

Craig says he is working on a second volume.  Enjoy today’s show and keep an eye out for his next book!