Top Ten Colorado Inventions, From Christmas Lights to Getting Lit

The best version of one of Colorado's best inventions: The Humboldt cheeseburger.
The best version of one of Colorado's best inventions: The Humboldt cheeseburger.

From its rolling prairies to its purple mountains majesty, Colorado is full of natural beauty. But this state is also home to many manmade marvels, too, including the some of the country's best craft beer and numerous inventions. Here are our ten favorites... See also: Denver Showed It Had the Light Stuff a Century Ago, With the First Christmas Tree

Top Ten Colorado Inventions, From Christmas Lights to Getting Lit
Hotel Colorado Facebook page

10) Teddy Bear The popular toy was reportedly invented in 1905 when maids at the Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs presented a small bear made out of scraps of material to President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt, who was on a hunting trip in the area. The toy was quickly dubbed a Teddy Bear, and became a national craze.

Top Ten Colorado Inventions, From Christmas Lights to Getting Lit
Photo courtesy of the Jolly Rancher Facebook page

9) Jolly Ranchers The hard candies we all know and love were created right here in Colorado, by Bill and Dorothy Harmsen, who'd originally attempted to market ice cream. Their hard candy worked much better, and the couple ran a factory in Wheat Ridge for decades. The brand is now owned by The Hershey Company.

Top Ten Colorado Inventions, From Christmas Lights to Getting Lit

8) Root Beer Float There are several stories about the invention of the root-beer float floating around, but most people credit Frank Wisner with the creation of the popular ice cream drink. He was looking out of his window at Cow Mountain, and decided that the snow on top looked like ice cream floating in a dark drink. The next day he dropped a scoop of ice cream in some root beer, and the famous concoction was born.

Birthplace of the cheeseburger -- in north Denver, Colorado.
Birthplace of the cheeseburger -- in north Denver, Colorado.

7) Cheeseburger Although numerous cooks have claimed credit for being the first to put cheese on a burger, Louis Ballast was awarded the "cheeseburger" trademark in 1935. Today a monument stands at 2755 Speer Boulevard, where the Humpty-Dumpty once flipped burgers. Keep reading for more Colorado inventions.  

Top Ten Colorado Inventions, From Christmas Lights to Getting Lit
Courtesy of Post Shredded Wheat Facebook page

6) Shredded Wheat As you start your morning right with a bowl of shredded wheat, you can thank Henry Perkins. He's the Denver man who developed a method of processing wheat into strips, which made the cereal possible.

Top Ten Colorado Inventions, From Christmas Lights to Getting Lit

5) Crocs Created and marketed by three Boulder outdoor enthusiasts, Crocs are the Colorado invention people love to hate...especially if they have any sense of fashion. Still, the footwear is great for rafting and gardening, and surprisingly comfortable.

Top Ten Colorado Inventions, From Christmas Lights to Getting Lit

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4) Sign-Language Translating Gloves Ryan Patterson was a Grand Junction high-school student when he came up with the idea of a glove that would translate sign language into spoken language. That was back in 2002; today Patterson works for NASA as an engineer. Keep reading for three more Colorado inventions.  

3) Legal Recreational Pot Medical marijuana was already going strong in Colorado when voters approved legalizing the sale of recreational marijuana, too. The first retail stores opened on January 1, 2014 -- and the state's been smokin' ever since.

Top Ten Colorado Inventions, From Christmas Lights to Getting Lit

2) The OtterBox The waterproof, shockproof OtterBox represents the ideal merger of Colorado's love of the outdoors and its obsession with the latest technology. Although the Fort Collins-based company creates phone cases that are incredibly useful for outdoor enthusiasts, urban adventurers love the OtterBox, too -- even if the most hazardous place they go is LoDo at let-out. Among its fans is Governor John Hickenlooper, who says he appreciates his iPad's OtterBox case when he's eating a sloppy Denver cheeseburger, since it "protects my iPad from me and my ketchup."

Top Ten Colorado Inventions, From Christmas Lights to Getting Lit

1) Outdoor Christmas Lights It all started because ten-year-old David Sturgeon was lying in bed in his home in northwest Denver, too sick to join the family downstairs for Christmas Eve. So his father, D.D. Sturgeon, a pioneering electrician, dipped some light bulbs in green and red paint, then wired them up in a pine tree outside the boy's window. From there, the tradition took off -- growing into the electric extravaganza that will light up the City and County Building tonight.

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