Can you imagine life without a dishwasher? Fudge brownies? Your cell phone? Neither can we—that’s why we’re taking a moment this National Inventors’ Day to recognize a few Illinois inventors and their contributions to history.

dishwasher-clean-sparkling-fresh-84558.jpegIn 1885, Josephine Cochrane developed the dishwasher in Shelbyville. As the story goes, Cochrane—a wealthy socialite who frequently hosted dinner parties—hated washing dishes so much that she invented and patented the world’s first mechanical dishwasher. She founded the Garis-Cochran Manufacturing Company in 1886, which became part of KitchenAid after her death in 1913.


chocolate-brownies-668624_1280.jpgSweet-toothed Illinoisans, rejoice: Chefs at Chicago’s Palmer House Hotel invented the brownie in 1893. According to legend, the hotel owner’s wife requested a dessert that would hold up in boxed lunches for attendees of the World Colombian Exposition. The result? A nutty, apricot-glazed predecessor to the fudgy treats we know today.

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acetylene aluminium aluminum bars royalty free thumbnailAs 2020 begins, businesses around Illinois are adjusting to the new year with changes and growth. In Decatur, Mueller Water Products is constructing a new brass foundry, bringing new jobs and prospects for the company and the town. Mueller Water Products was founded in Decatur in 1857 by German immigrant Hieronymus Mueller and is celebrating 162 years of business.

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waterfall PRDuring these winter months, it is hard to get outside. That’s why the featured park of the month has it all, and Starved Rock State Park showcases the best of nature that Illinois has to offer. Right outside Utica, many trails give visitors the opportunity to see natural habitats and beauty during these cold winter months, and with less people coming to the park, the noise pollution decreases and allows for wildlife to flourish.

Walking along the Illinois River, you will see massive sandstone bluffs with many wooded trails perfect for hiking. Some lead to scenic spots like a massive frozen waterfall. Don’t forget to bring a pair of binoculars because this is the prime season to spot bald eagles, turkey, deer, and many other animals that inhabit the Illinois wilderness.

Starved Rock State Park continues to be one of the state’s most popular natural attractions. With more than 2.4 million people visiting the park last year, it continues to provide examples of the beauty that lies within Illinois. While 68% of the parks visitors are from May to October, the winter months prove to be just as breathtaking to explore and discover on your visit to Starved Rock State Park.

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MADE IN ILLINOISThis month Made in Illinois has a tasty feature. In honor of National Popcorn Day, we visited Pittman’s Popcorn Shop (1500 Wabash Ave. Springfield, IL) and spoke to Michael Pittman, the owner of the independent, family-owned gourmet popcorn store.

First opened in 2016, Pittman’s Popcorn Shop touts more than 500 popcorn flavors with 70 flavors available at any given time. From traditional flavors like caramel and cheddar to their own creations like strawberry cheesecake and peanut butter chocolate, Pittman’s Popcorn Shop has something to offer to everyone.

Read the story below of how Pittman started and has grown his business.

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Kraft Heinz Headquarters Chicago

Many of us grew up eating Velveeta, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Miracle Whip and of course, mac and cheese from a little blue box. But did you know that these products have Illinois roots? The Kraft Heinz Company got its start on Water Street in Chicago.

The history of Kraft goes back to 1903, when J.L. Kraft begin purchasing cheese at Chicago’s wholesale market and reselling it to local merchants. A short time later, four of his brothers joined him in this budding business. In 1909, the family-ran business incorporated to J.L. Kraft & Bros. Co.

The group obtained a patent for their revolutionary cheese processing method in 1919. The patent came in handy during World War I, when J.L. Kraft & Bros. Co. supplied tinned cheese to the U.S. Government to send to armed forces overseas.

Kraft utilized innovative advertising to promote products and was a pioneer in sponsoring television and radio shows.  Kraft Music Hall on radio and KraftTelevision Theatre helped prove the effectiveness of advertising on the then-new media.

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