The Incredible Origins Of Everyday Items:  Peanut Butter And Petroleum Jelly?

Nearly all of us have kept a jar of Vaseline petroleum jelly in our medicine cabinet, but how many of us have taken a heaping spoonful and swallowed it? That’s what its inventor, Brooklyn chemist Robert Augustus Chesebrough, did daily until he died at the old age of 96. This tidbit is from Charles Panati, who has researched the origins of everyday items for his book “Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things.”While it has been used for everything from soothing diaper rash to a butter alternative to catching trout, Vaseline was first invented by Chesebrough when people began the switch from kerosene to oil in the late 19th century. When the kerosene dealer started looking for a way to get into the up and coming oil business, he discovered that drillers were complaining about a substance that was gumming up their equipment. Despite the annoyance, workers observed that the compound helped wounds heal faster. Chesebrough eventually isolated the main ingredient and began marketing the first petroleum jelly, calling it Vaseline.

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