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

Lots of inventions from the past look crazy, and most of them didn't work. Let's look at some of the craziest inventions and everyday items used many years ago!


There have been many horrible inventions that don't really do what they were intended to do. Let's investigate some of the garbage ideas people peddled back in the days before even color TV.

Amphibious Bicycle


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

Inflatable Life Vests From Old Tires


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.

Wooden Swim Suits


The US had a similar invention to tire vests in the 1920s. These spruce wood swimsuits were a real thing, meant to create a floating effect for the less skilled swimmers of the time. Imagine getting a splinter!

Sunglasses From the Past


Also called Snow Goggles, these beauties were primarily used by the Inuit and the Yupik peoples of the Artic 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 beauty 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 probably have a better chance of holding insecticide in your mouth and spitting at the bugs.

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. The idea was rather radical to use paper for such a purpose and before it was thought up, people used everything from leaves to stones and even seashells.

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 we should feel blessed with what we have today!


The Baby Dangler


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 but it 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

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 that were supposed to toughen babies to withstand common colds and the elements.

Inventor Emma Read, by Watson E. Coleman Attorney., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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.



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 be feast ready in about 90 seconds. Unfortunately, these packages were prone to leaking and would, in the best 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 a roof.

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.

Wonder Sauna Hot Pants


These were a pair of inflatable pants invented in the 70s that you would pull up to your waist and inflate until they looked as advertised and then you would 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 "AAU" 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


Invented by Charles Steinlauf and presented in 1939, this was one of many pieces he and his family showed off in Chicago from the 30s up until the 60s. While the whole thing would essentially be a death sentence to drive around today, it did serve its main purpose which 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 product 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 inventions from Russia during WW2, and 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.

1920s 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 which 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.

The Dimple Maker


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

Motorized Roller Skates


Oddly enough, these things were very popular back in 1956 and they did 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


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 with the slight drawback that you had to move the damn thing yourself.

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 and 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

Science Illustrated, 1947 (public domain)

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 person's face without inconveniencing them too much. It was immensely popular in Hollywood back in the 40s 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 sight or sound so you could 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 would 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.

If you were amazed at these crazy inventions from the past, you might want to read this article about useless inventions made when scientists get bored. Thanks for reading!

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