It has been said that necessity is the mother of invention. In our modern world, however, this dictum is often negated. We live in such abundance that uselessness can be harnessed as a selling point by companies bent on selling unique products. Our desires become shaped by what products are available and eventually we begin to crave hollow items of little worth.
And yet, this vicious cycle questions the idea that a product can ever be considered truly useless. Humanity is so diverse that there is bound to be a market for every product, some void that needs to be filled. Here we have compiled the 4 most useless inventions that are actually valorized by their eccentricities upon closer examination.
Ever heard of the anti-social cat lady who is more in touch with her fellow felines than with the rest of society? Pets are often used for therapeutic reasons, and cats are no different. These gentle creatures become extensions of our personalities and we cater to their needs like they are our children.
And yet, the much-debated cat wig is often criticized as useless. But how arbitrary are our limits? We have no problem accepting these creatures into our household, feeding them, buying them treats and toys, and even designating areas of the house as appropriate for excretion. We even rub them to confer pleasure.
These actions are all fine, but the moment we concentrate on enhancing the cat’s hair, we’ve entered the realm of uselessness? Please.
On the surface, a stick for butter might seem extravagant, but upon closer analysis, is a stick for glue any more practical or sustainable?
Glue is often made from boiled animal parts, namely horse hooves, and is often used as an adhesive, going hand in hand with arts and crafts. This often requires cutting down trees to generate paper and supplies for the craft making. Apparently, society does not find this process useless at all.
Yet, the moment we milk a cow, create butter from that milk, and spread it on sustainably sourced bread using a stick, we’ve crossed the line. At least this process results in a culinary creation that nourishes us and minimizes waste and killing.
Pizza Cone Shaper
On first inspection, this device might seem not only unnecessary but blasphemous. “Pizza must have a particular form” you might complain. “This is an abomination! Its disrespectful to Ice Cream! I’m calling the food police!”
But, consider the underlying components of pizza. Traditionally, it is flour, water, and sugar, coated with pureed tomatoes, topped with hardened, fermented milk that has melted. The flour typically consists of milled grains, which is the seed of a fruit. To summarize, that’s milk, sugar, and fruit.
Ice Cream, on the other hand, is usually composed of milk, sugar, and some kind of chocolate or vanilla, or perhaps a fruity flavoring, and maybe some nuts for good measure. Chocolate is the seed of a fruit. And vanilla is a spice extracted from a fruit. And nuts are the seeds of a fruit.
So, more or less, ice cream is the same as pizza. So why not experiment with manipulating each in the form of the other. The real question: why have we not experimented with cylindrical ice cream? Oh yeah, it’s called cake.
Cereal Bowl Spoon Holder
This invention has been criticized on the grounds that it appeals to only a minority of users. Who would possibly care about a detail of tableware this much, you might query?
Yet, such a minority might consist of people who treat their cereal like a course at a 5-star restaurant. This would not be uncommon considering the rich history of indulgence that cereal has enjoyed within the development of American cuisine.
Such aficionados might want to admire the aesthetic of the dish before altering it with an artistic submergence of the spoon. As the film Tampopo makes perfectly clear, eating is like a game of chess, and every move influences the final outcome (optimum digestion).
Additionally, the aficionado might want to rest the spoon away from the food during a hiatus in feeding, perhaps to breathe and consider the next move, or to relocate. The spoon holder would prevent the food within from ever touching the handle. This would maximize hand cleanliness while minimizing the potential for milk dripping onto the users lap during subsequent bites.
Furthermore, if there existed a restaurant devoted solely to connoisseurs of cereal, then perhaps this invention would allow the patron to signal the end of eating. This would also allow for quieter customer service, as the tinkering of the metal spoon against the bowl would be minimized by the ingenious holder.
To flesh out this scene even more, lets add televisions displaying cartoons at each table as well as free access to snuggies and lazy-boys and voila – not only have we successfully emulated our favorite childhood environment, but we have created a market for this underappreciated product.
Therefore, it’s evident that a niche exists for every product, no matter how specialized or idiosyncratic that product is. Next time, to determine the usefulness of an invention, try opening your perspective and expanding your mind instead of making assumptive judgments.