Most people hardly question, if ever, why everyday things around are shaped the way they are. Like, why are most donuts round with a hole in the center, why does sugar come in cubes and why coins are round and not square? It may seem random, but most of these items were purposely designed that way, and usually for practical reasons. This article holds the answers to these questions and more. Here are the explanations for why things look the way they do.
1. Why Doughnuts Have a Hole in the Center
There’s a lot of speculation about how ring donuts came to be. One account says that a Native American man unwittingly made it when he shot an arrow into the center of the pastry. But the most popular theory generally credits a sailor named Hanson Gregory as the inventor. According to a 1916 interview with The Washington Post, Gregory claimed that he created the first ring donut in 1858 when he cut out the center of the pastry because that particular part was often gooey and undercooked.
2. Why Coins Are Round
Earlier coins came in a number of unusual shapes ranging from rectangles to circles with holes in the middle. However, the first round coin didn’t appear until sometime during the fifth or sixth centuries BC in Lydia, modern western Turkey. The Greeks and Romans later joined the coin fad but made theirs round to avoid fraud. They also did this because it would’ve been much easier to spot a coin that had been chipped off at the corner. Some people also say that round coins slowly became the standard as they were easier to count, stack and mint.
3. Why Love Is Represented with a Heart
The universal symbol for love is depicted by a shape that barely resembles the human heart. So where did this shape come from? Well, the answer lies somewhere in Ancient Greece and the now extinct silphium plant. This multipurpose plant was used as a contraceptive by the Greeks, as well as a food seasoning and cough syrup. So now, the plant itself was a symbol of love and romance; its seed pod resembles the heart shape we used today.
4. Why Sugar Is in Cubes
During the 1800s, people went to great lengths to sweeten their tea. Sugar back then used to be sold in tall, hardened cones known as sugar loaves and they had to be broken apart using hammers or mallets and chisels. One day in 1840, a woman named Juliana Rad had enough of those dense sugar lumps after cutting finger while trying to get some. So, she complained to her husband Jakub who happened to work at a sugar mill to save her the trouble of having to cut sugar every day. He did just that, and invented the first press that made sugar into cubes.
5. Why Stop Signs Are Octagonal
Have you ever noticed that stop signs are the only octagonal or eight-sided road signs out there? The first stop signs appeared in 1915 and were initially squares with white backgrounds and black lettering. But as more cars started showing up in the 1920s, AASHO or the American Association of State Highway Officials, purposely upgraded the sign to make it more easily recognized even from afar. Before its current design, the stop sign had a yellow background with a black font and outline. They later changed it to red to match the traffic light for “stop.”
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