Fridge magnets – how did they become so popular?
Fridge magnets are found in almost every household. They come in all sizes and shapes, make perfect travel souvenirs and serve some practical purposes. Let's learn more about how they became so popular in many parts of the world.
#1 What is a magnet?
A magnet is an object made from a material which generates an external magnetic field. This field attracts certain materials and other magnets. The ends of a magnet, called poles, are where the magnetic field concentrates. One magnet has a north pole and a south pole.
#2 How are magnets made?
Magnets are made from ferromagnetic metals, such as iron, cobalt or nickel. These materials can be made magnetic by exposing them to a powerful magnetic field with the use of electric current. There are also materials that are naturally magnetic: for example, lodestone naturally attracts iron.
#3 When was the first fridge magnet invented?
In the middle of the 20th century, plastic letters and numbers attached to magnets were commonly used as teaching aids. Around the 1960s, the first magnet similar to the ones we put on fridges was invented by a man named Sam Hardcastle.
Originally, Hardcastle, a professional molder, was approached by US space industry to develop numbers and letters that were flexible and fully magnetic – not just pieces of plastic attached to magnets. Sam successfully coped with the task: he created letters and numbers made from a mix of iron oxide, iron dust and vinyl. They suited the purpose perfectly.
#4 But how did Hardcastle's invention move to our fridges?
Sam's customers from space industry were satisfied and continued working with him: later, he created letters of verious sizes and colors. One day, Hardcastle understood that his invention had more potential, and decided to start advertising magnets for household use.
He started adding logos and words to his magnets – and it was a total success. Hardcastle started cooperating with souvenir industry and went on to create specialized magnets for each US state. Soon such souvernirs became widespread in other countries as well.
#5 Are there any large collections of fridge magnets?
A lot of people collect fridge magnets – you probably know some of them or do it yourself. Anyway, the largest and most mind-blowing collection was owned by Louise Greenfarb from Nevada. She was even known as the 'Magnet Lady', as her collection contained more than 30,000 non-duplicated items.
Greenfarb passed away in 2019. The collection was inherited by her children.
Was this information new for you? Do you collect fridge magnets? Tell us in the comments!
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