Dateline: 15 July 2007
|Don't they look good! |
You can go to any supermarket in the country and find dozens of different kinds of granola bars. Granola bars are big business. I’ll bet millions and millions of dollars are made by granola bar makers. And to think.... I invented granola bars.
It’s true. I’m the guy. It was me. I invented the granola bar 32 years ago this month. And I can prove it.
Now, before I tell you the story and provide my evidence, I want to make it clear that I’m not writing this blog story to boast. I’m just stating a historical fact.
I was 17 years old when I invented granola bars. I didn’t invent an actual granola bar recipe. I just came up with the idea of taking granola and assembling it into bars. Prior to my coming up with this idea, there were absolutely no granola bars in the grocery stores. No one had ever seen a granola bar.
I came up with the idea of taking granola and assembling it into a “candy bar” formation one day while mowing my parents lawn. My parents had a very large lawn and we did not have a riding mower. So, pushing the mower gave me time to think. I remember day dreaming about my granola bar idea. I figured I’d get my mother to help me develop the bars and I could try selling them to health food stores.
Before you know it, in my imaginings, I had a big granola bar factory. I remember thinking I’d build the business up to where it was really big, and then I’d sell out, and I’d buy some farmland and be a homesteader. No kidding. That was my dream back then. I didn’t want to make granola bars my whole life. They would just be a sure way to get the money needed to get the land to get the life I dreamed of.
Then I read a magazine article about The Idea Marketplace. If you had a good idea and you wanted to submit it to industry, you could send it to The Idea Marketplace. Interested companies would read about your idea in The Idea Marketplace and contact you. They might give you some kind of royalty or buy your idea outright. I figured that would be a whole lot easier than actually making granola bars and building up a granola bar empire. So I composed a letter to The Idea Marketplace. Here’s what I wrote:
I am 17 years old and am a senior in high school. In the August issue of Success Unlimited I read an article about The Idea Marketplace. Sometime ago I was “struck” with an idea which has plagued my mind since. After reading the article in Success Unlimited it occurred to me that I should send my idea in to see if someone else thinks it’s as great as I do. It’s quite simple, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s already been thought of. Nevertheless, it’s worth a try.
I am somewhat of a natural food enthusiast and am very pleased with the popularity of granola breakfast cereals. Granola is nothing new. It’s been around for years. It’s just that more and more people are becoming concerned with their health and are searching for more natural and nutritional foods. Thus, granola, which is natural, nutritional, and downright delicious, is taking the country by storm. My idea is simply that one of these corporations come out with a line of granola candybars. I can see no reason why such a product cannot be turned onto the market and made just as popular as the familiar chocolate candybar. (Which is not nearly as nutritious and naturally flavorful.) I have heard that granola is a multi-million dollar industry still in its infancy, so why not cash in now on a really good thing!
If you do find my idea worth printing in The Idea Marketplace, I would like my name and address to be printed and I am open to negotiation.
I typed the letter on my dad’s old typewriter. I made a copy with carbon paper. I’ve kept that copy all these years. Here (below) is a picture of the beginning of the letter. Notice the date: July 24, 1975. I thought of the idea before that but I consider that day when I put my idea in writing to be the official day that I invented the granola bar.
I got a form letter back saying that my submission had been received and they would let me know if they decided to run my idea in The Idea Marketplace.
Months went by and I heard nothing. Then, lo and behold, I started seeing advertisements for granola bars. They started showing up in the grocery stores. All of which led me to believe that one of those greedy corporations saw my little ol’ idea in The Idea Marketplace, and snatched it up.
A year or so back I was at a church function, eating a meal, sitting across from my pastor, Dale Weed. We were talking about inventions. I said to him: “You know, I invented granola bars.” To which he laughed and said, “I know. I remember that.”
I was surprised when he said that. But then I remembered that when I was 17 years old, I worked up the road from my parent’s house at New Hope Mills for Dale Weed’s dad. Dale said he remembered me talking at the Mill about my granola candy bar idea. So in addition to written documentation, I have a witness who remembers that I invented the granola bar before they were ever in the stores.
All of this is on my mind today because I was on the internet this morning and I went to the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia. On a whim, I decided to search “granola bar.” To my surprise, there was an entry for granola. And there was also information about granola bars. No mention of the inventor was made, so I edited the entry. Check it out here
I dug out the letter mentioned above and gave it to my sons to read. They thought it was pretty funny at the end of the letter where I wrote, “I am open to negotiation.” Robert seemed amazed that I was a “natural food enthusiast” when I was 17 years old (a year older than he is now). And he made the comment that my writing style was the same back then as it is now.
So there you have it. Now you know who invented granola bars. It was me. I came up with the idea, them big corporations took it from me, and I never got a cent.
And I’m still trying to come up with the money to buy a farm…
UPDATED INFO: 11/23/07
Today I went to the Wikipedia entry for "Granola Bar" and discovered that someone changed the entry. They have changed it to say that some guy named Stanley Mason invented the granola bar. Well! The nerve of them! This just goes to show that you can't trust everything you read on Wikipedia. Stanley Mason is probably the guy who made all the money with my idea. ;-)