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7 Kansas City Inventions

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When worlds collide... Marion Trozzolo 🤝 M&Ms | Photo by KCtoday

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Love that your M&Ms don’t melt in the palm of your hand? What about the fact that your morning omelette slides beautifully off your teflon pan? Thank Kansas City for these seven inventions that have made their mark in history.

Mickey Mouse

The most popular cartoon character in the world was a collaborative effort between Walt Disney + Ub Iwerks, who were both animators at Laugh-O-Gram Studio in Kansas City. Fun fact: UMKC’s kangaroo logo was also designed by Walt Disney.

Teflon Pan

Kansas City Entrepreneur Marion Trozzolo was the founder + owner of Laboratory Plasticware. The company was the first US manufacturer to apply teflon coating, a non-stick material, to cookware, branding it as the Happy Pan. The original Happy Pan is on display at the Smithsonian Institution to commemorate the revolutionary product that changed how Americans cooked food.

McDonald’s Happy Meal

After hearing about Yolanda Fernández de Cofiño’s invention of the Menú Ronald (Ronald menu) in Guatemala, McDonald’s management in Chicago asked Bob Bernstein to develop a similar concept for the US. Bernstein, who worked for Kansas City advertising agency Bernstein-Rein, noticed his son read his cereal box every morning. Realizing that there was nothing else entertaining to do while he was eating, Bernstein came up with the idea of an activity-filled box. The Happy Meal — a burger, fries, a soft drink, a toy + cookies (no longer included) — was born, debuting in St. Louis and Kansas City among other cities before being released nationally in 1979.

Bomb Pop

What’s red, white, and blue? The rocket-shaped frozen treat was created by D.S. “Doc” Abernathy and James S. Merritt at Merritt Foods in Kansas City, MO. It was invented at the outset of the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union (modern day Russia), which explains its patriotic colors. The treat even has its own national day: National Bomb Pop Day falls on the last Thursday of June every year.

Multiplex Movie Theater

Stanley H. Durwood is credited with creating the first movie theater designed specifically as a twin multiplex in KCMO’s Ward Parkway Shopping Center. Durwood Theatres renamed to American Multi-Cinema to mark the invention’s success, eventually changing its name to AMC Entertainment — which is currently the nation’s largest movie theater business.

M&M candy coating

This invention is pretty M&M-pressive. In the 1950s, researchers from Midwest Research Institute — known today as MRIGlobal — created the M&M coating that keeps the candy from melting quickly. They invented a machine that could coat 3,300 pounds of chocolate centers every hour.

Bumper stickers

Kansas City local Forest Gill is credited as the inventor of the bumper sticker. In the 1940s, he used adhesive-backed paper + fluorescent paint to create them. At the time, these bumper stickers were known as bumper strips.

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