Not even counting Roger Federer and the first Bond-girl Ursula Andress, Switzerland has had a large number of impressive inventions and exports throughout history. Some of which you may not be aware of. Here are four from a long list of creative Swiss inventions in no particular order.
Who hasn’t fought and lost the war with cellophane, that lovely plastic on a roll? Sure, it keeps the food fresh. If you can get it off the roll and if it doesn’t fold up on itself before you try to put it over the food. If you’re lucky, it will stick. Perfect. Thanks to the Swiss, Jacques E. Brandenberger in 1908 (mass production began in 1920) for that charming invention. I have long since given up trying to cut the cellophane using the cutter on the box. They have never worked for me. I use scissors and presto, no more temper tantrums!
Mother nature is perfect and we can learn a lot from her. George de Mestral was just a normal Swiss guy who, at the age of 12, designed and patented a toy airplane. Geez, don’t we all do that when we’re 12? The Swiss love to hike and even if you don’t go deep into the woods with your dog, chances are when you come home you will have to pull out some burrs and other things stuck in your dog’s fur. That’s nature’s way of transporting things.
In 1941 after returning from a hunting trip in the Alps he saw his dog had the obligatory burrs in his fur. He looked at them closely and an idea was born that only took 10 years to develop. Velcro ® got its name from the French words velour and crochet (velvet and hook). It really got a push in 1969 when NASA took it to space. You see it everywhere today, from tennis shoes to purses to jackets. And, it sounds cool when separating the two pieces, like ripping something. Almost as good as popping the plastic bubbles. Velcro ® truly makes life easier.
The Swiss love to be on time and the expression “fashionably late” isn’t in their vocabulary. So, in 2007 with the Internet in full swing, organizing meetings with emails was quicker than ever before. Good, but not good enough. There was still a lot of unnecessary back and forth and it was time consuming. Time was a-wasting. Enter Michael Näf and Paul E. Sevinç with Doodle scheduling. Really easy, efficient and convenient. I use it often.
Muesli was a very slow burning idea that has turned into way of life, in Switzerland this known as bircher-muesli. The physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner had the idea of combining fruits, vegetables and nuts into a healthy meal in 1900. After curing himself from jaundice using raw foods, he believed that natural foods where healthier for you than commercially processed foods. His “new” food science ideas were not welcomed by the scientist community at the time. Luckily, the general public was ready for a change and slowly, slowly things got going. An idea that almost 120 years later has finally taken hold. Amazing, it sounds so commonsense you wonder how anyone could not agree.
When I first came to Switzerland I had never heard of muesli and it reminded me of a bowl of cereal drowned in milk, ugh! Forget the healthy stuff in the bowl, I couldn’t get past the milk. I don’t like milk unless it’s disguised well, for example as mousse au chocolate. Don’t ever give me a glass of milk and expect me to drink it! On the other hand, understanding the importance of fresh fruits and nuts and knowing the reason why I won’t eat bircher-muesli (because of the milk), I have developed my own, personal version of the meal and eat it daily. It does have one milk product in it: yoghurt. The finished product neither tastes like milk nor does look like it is swimming in milk. It tastes delicious and is very variable depending on seasonal fresh produce. So go for it, and enjoy!
Lisa’s healthy no-milk muesli
25g almonds, crushed
10g cacao ( no sugar) or lots of cinnamon (one day chocolate, the next day cinnamon)
1 banana, sliced
40g blueberries (usually fresh frozen from our garden)
50g raspberries and/or blackberries (usually fresh frozen from our garden)
15–20g melted coconut oil
60g homemade apple, plum and apricot sauce (no added sugar)
125g 1 pro-biotic yoghurt, classic, no flavor, (no added sugar)
Mix everything together and enjoy with a cup of hot green tea and a whole grapefruit cut into chunks and maybe add some pomegranates to make it look even prettier. You won’t need to eat anything else for a good 4 – 6 hours! A healthy start in the day.