7 Things You Never Knew Were Invented in Oakland
While San Francisco and Berkeley have long been lauded for their contributions to pop culture via food (Irish coffee and It's-It) and science (16 elements and counting), it's time Oakland gets its due. Here are seven things, invented in The Town, that your life would suck without. You're welcome.
Rocky Road Ice Cream
William Dreyer's chocolate, almond, and marshmallow concoction may have been inspired by pre-existing mixtures—including one by George Farren, a candymaker at Fenton's whose recipe used walnuts instead of almods—but Dryer, who cofounded the ice cream company with Joseph Edy in 1928, was the one who gave it its iconic name. Seeing as how it was during the Great Depression, he thought "rocky road" would make people smile. (Nowadays, though, it still rings home as an allusion to Oakland's many potholes.)
The Mai Tai
Victor Bergeron, aka "Trader Vic," first created the Mai Tai in 1944 at his eponymous restaurant in Oakland. Inspired by the muses of potables, he mixed Jamaican rum, fresh lime, Curacao, rock candy, and orgeat syrups. When he served it to his friends visiting from Tahiti, they reportedly exclaimed, " Mai tai, roe aé," meaning, "Out of this world!" Cheers to that.
Cheerleader "Krazy George Henderson" first led the much-loathed/crowd favorite at an Oakland Athletics game at the Coliseum on October 15, 1981. Though Krazy George is still in a heated debate with University of Washington over the invention, Oakland and Krazy George have evidence on their side: the first ever wave was televised at the Oakland Coliseum during an A's-Yankees game.
The year was 1962 when Oakland-area businessman and partial partner of the Raiders, Wilfred Winkenbach, PR manager Bill Tunnel, and reporter Scotty Starling, invented the rules to a game that would become modern fantasy football on a team trip to New York. They brought back the ingenious game to Oakland, creating a weekly league called Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League at King's X Bar (now the Kona Club). Fantastic.
Invented by Italian immigrant Ettore Steccone in 1936, 75 percent of all window washers now use the Steccone Squeegee. The small, family-owned factory is still in operation near the Oakland airport.
The Fortune Cookie Folding Machine
While the cookie itself was invented in San Francisco, the mass production of fortune cookies has Oakland to thank. The folding machine, invented in Oakland by UC Berkeley-grad Shuck Yee in 1973, helped popularize the cookie in cities across the nation. The cookie factory in SF's Chinatown, Golden Gate Fortune Cookies, still uses the machine to this day.