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The Grass is Always Greener…

The Grass is Always Greener…

With summer in full swing, what a perfect time to talk all about…grass. On golf courses and in parks, outside office buildings and college campuses, dotting suburbia and glistening with morning dew along a rolling countryside hill…growing wildly or neatly clipped…the green stuff is pretty hard to escape in most parts of the US.

Commercials promise products that will banish pests from your lawn and keep it lush and green all season long. Each spring and summer, practically every big box retailer like Lowes and Home Depot has sales on grass seed and fertilizer and everything in between.

In recent years, organic products have offered a more eco-friendly alternative to lawn care. There’s even The Lawn Institute, “created in 1955 to assist in and encourage the improvement of lawns and sports turf through research and education.”

How did we come to love our lawns this much?

According to the Wikipedia, the term lawn “dates to no earlier than the 16th century.” Actually, “lawn” is not the same as “grass.” In general, a lawn is comprised of grass (or mostly grass), it is mown, and is for the benefit of people.

Some evidence even suggests that as early as the 12th century turfgrass lawns were in existence. Later on, in France and Britain, trees were removed from the grasslands that surrounded medieval castles, giving guards a better sight of visitors or potential threats.

Here’s a fun fact, courtesy of Planet Natural Research Center: Affluent landowners in 16th century France and England planted chamomile or thyme (instead of traditional grass) to create their lawns. Even today, these make a great alternative to standard grass.
Until the invention of more efficient equipment, property owners relied on livestock and scythes to keep lawns neat and trim.

History of lawn mowersMoving on to Greener Pastures

The landscape of lawn care would be forever changed with the invention of the first lawnmower by Edwin Budding in 1830. By the 1850s, the chain-driven Silens Messor (meaning silent cutter) was introduced, somewhat more costly but lighter and quieter than previous gear-driven machines.

Fast forward to 1938 and well-known manufacturer Toro came out with a power mower for homeowners. March 1955 would see the introduction of the first zero-turn, ride-on mower. In 1963, John Deere came out with the 110, which would become a successful seller.

By 2008, the EPA rolled out stringent new rules intended to cut emissions and improve the environment. A Consumer Reports article from that time explained, “The new regulations take effect in 2011 for tractors and other riding models and in 2012 for mowers. Eighty percent of Class I (walk-behind mowers) and nearly 70 percent of Class II (riding mowers) engine families from the leading manufacturers would have to be redesigned to be compliant.”

History of lawn mowersWe’ve Come a Long Way

At Green Ridge Restorations, the customers who buy our restored John Deere tractors come from all walks of life. But they have at least two things in common: They love their John Deere’s – and they’re pretty devoted to keeping their lawn manicured perfectly.

Judging by this brief overview on the history of lawns and lawn mowers, we’ve surely come a long way from the days of relying on animals, scythes and sickles to keep our grass trimmed.

Retro Rewind: America’s Love Affair with Candy

Retro Rewind: America’s Love Affair with Candy

At Green Ridge Restorations, we have a large stock of antique and vintage candy scales to restore. We used that as inspiration for this post, where we’ll take a walk down the sugary-delicious memory lane to explore the history of American’s love affair with candy.

The most common scales we restore are by Toledo and Dayton. Back in the day, these were used in grocery stores and candy shops for weighing small purchases. Today, these make excellent conversation pieces in retro-themed shops eateries as well as statement pieces in kitchens.

Vintage candy scalesWay Back in the 1800s…

With the Industrial Revolution in full swing, America saw major growth and the introduction of many of the candies we know and love even today.

Those yummy little Halloween morsels we know and love – candy corn – were introduced circa 1880 by Wunderle Candy Company.

William Wrigley, Jr. brought us – you guessed it – Juicy Fruit Wrigley’s Gum in 1893.

And did you know how Tootsie Rolls got their cute moniker? From the daughter of Leo Hirshfield, nicknamed “Tootsie.”

Back in 1893, the now-infamous Milton Hershey has chocolate manufacturing equipment shipped from Germany to his PA factory.

You can thank Richard Cadbury for the all-American tradition of chocolates for Valentine’s Day. In 1868, he made the first V-Day box of chocolates.

The Early 1900s

Remember Milton Hershey? By around 1900, he rolled out an early variation of what we now know as the Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar.

Dayton candy scalesOh, and those too-cute chocolate candy kisses everyone loves? By 1906, candy lovers were unwrapping silver foil to reveal Silvertops – which would later be known as Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Kisses.

1911 was a big year for Ethel and Frank Mars, who opened their company in Washington. Mars, Inc. would go on to become one of the most successful candy companies around.

Ever wonder when Life Savers got their name? In 1912, the name was coined since they resembled little life preservers. The first flavor was peppermint.

Our resident favorite, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, first came onto the scene around 1922, when H.B. Reese coated peanut butter with Hershey’s Chocolate.

A year later, in 1923, Milky Way Candy Bars were released.

The beloved Snickers Bar came out around 1930 and got its name from the Mars family horse.

Candy connoisseurs may remember Valomilk Dips, which were born thanks to a “lucky accident involving marshmallow” at the then-Sifer’s Candy Company.

Bazooka Bubble Gum started delighting kids and adults alike from 1947 all the way to 2012.

1949 was a whopper of a year – that’s when the delectable choco covered malted milk ball Giants officially became “Whoppers.”

Mid-Century America

Post WWII 1950s America saw a time of rapid growth and innovation in many areas…

Those ubiquitous little Easter chicks, Marshmallow Peeps, were officially born in 1954.History of candy

Who doesn’t remember candy necklaces? Those came out in 1958 and continue to be a classic candy fav.

By 1960, Starburst Fruit Chews were introduced by M&M Mars.

Ever wonder when Hershey started selling their legendary Kisses in colored foil wrappers? 1962.

For the tidy sum of $23 mil, The Hershey’s Chocolate Co. acquired the H.B. Reese Co. in 1963 – and the rest is history, as they say.

Also in ’63, luscious Cadbury Crème Eggs started tempting people everywhere with their creamy goodness.

Are you old enough to remember the original Razzles? Those sweet delights with the famous “First it’s a candy, then it’s a gum!” tagline hit the candy scene in 1966.

The 1970s through Today

The 1970s were a big decade for candy, beginning right in 1970, when production on Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups was doubled to keep up with demand.

Hershey would become the first candy company to provide nutritional information on its candy wrappers in 1973.

That same year, Hershey opened first candy-related theme park.

By 1976, Jelly Belly – chewy, individually-flavored jelly beans – provided a colorful pop of flavor.

Building on the success of Reese Peanut Butter Cups, Reese’s Pieces were rolled out in 1978.

America's history of candyThe decade went out with a crunch, when in 1979, the Twix Bar was introduced.

M&Ms went on a ride to outer space courtesy of Nasa in 1981 in the Space Shuttle Columbia.

If you’re a millennial, you’re sure to recall Gummi bears (1980), Skittle’s (1981), and Sour Patch Kids (1985)!

Before Herman Goelitz Co. offered up USA-made gummi bears and worms, they’d been imported to Europe up till that point.

1989 was a year of decadent goodness, when Hershey offered up the Symphony Bar that was filled with crunchy almonds, toffee, and creamy milk chocolate.

1991 saw more savory goodness with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, which now had 3x the amount of peanuts.

Dove Dark and Dove Milk Chocolate Bars came out back in 1992.

A year later, Miniature Hershey’s Kisses and white chocolate kisses, dubbed “Hugs”, came out in 1993.

Dulce de Leche Caramel M&Ms were introduced in 2002, but they didn’t last long before being discontinued.Candy scales vintage

Intended as a limited edition candy, Hershey’s Kisses Special Dark have been delighting candy lovers since 2003.

Reese’s Crispy Crunchy Bar, with all its crunchy-chocolaty goodness, was released in 2006.

2010 saw the introduction of Hershey’s Take 5, and this chocolaty temptation also had a hint of saltiness, too.

So, now that you know more about America’s love affair with candy, get on out there and grab a bite of your favorite treat!

Fill ‘er Up – A Brief History of Gas Pumps

Fill ‘er Up – A Brief History of Gas Pumps

Nostalgia: A device that removes the ruts and potholes from memory lane.” -Doug Larson

Restoring old gas pumps here at Green Ridge is one of our favorite projects. Since we recently took in a few old pumps, we thought we’d use them as inspiration for a post on the history of gas pumps and service stations across America.

The Early Years

Colorful old gas pump

The year was 1885. S.F. Bowser had just sold his invention – a kerosene pump with marble valves and a wooden plunger – to a Fort Wayne, IN grocery store. According to the American Oil & Gas Historical Society, not even 20 years after that in Pittsburg, PA, the first purposely built drive-in gas service station would open for business.

In 1913, Gulf Refining Co. introduced a filling station in Pittsburgh that featured a pagoda-style facility with free air, water, and tire/tube installation. How’s that for service?!

Around 1915, some gas pumps towered 10+ feet tall. “Beyond being a measurement device, these pumps demonstrated the clarity of the gasoline; at the time, customers became increasingly aware that pollutants in gasoline would harm their engine,” explains the Automobile Driving Museum (ADM).

Art Deco Divine

1950s gas pumpDesigns of gas pumps in the 1920s boasted bold color and elaborate designs. Globes atop early gas pump were what lighthouses once were to ships travelling in the night – a light for weary travelers along their journey. Not only that, globes served as advertising for gasoline manufacturers of the day. Interestingly, globes were “the last decorative element of the gasoline pump to remain through the 1940s,” says the ADM. At the close of the 20s, there were about 200,000 gas stations dotting the US.

The 1930s through around 1940 saw art deco styled pumps, some of which featured a clockface and glass cylinders. Beginning about 1940-the early 50s, gas pumps had a more square design and still featured a top globe.

From Smooth 1930s Styling to the (Boring) Boxy ’60s
Old 1950s gas pump

One of the pumps we recently acquired is a Bennett 966, manufactured around 1954-1956. It illustrates the more “square” styling of the era versus the earlier deco styled pumps. Another gas pump we acquired in the same lot is the Erie Model 743, believed to be manufactured in 1954. This is another good example of the square design of the 50s.

By the 1960s, pumps became more plain and boxy in their design, and at least in our opinion, they’re not nearly as appealing as the 1930s gas pumps with prominent art deco styling. According to an article in Collectors Weekly, early gas pumps with the cylinder on top and featuring an old clock face are some of the most collectible, as are computing pumps from the 1930’s through the ‘50s.

1950s gas pump for saleAn Interesting Problem for Old Pumps

Here’s a fun fact for you: A 2008 NBC News article focused on the soaring gas prices at that time explained how old-school gas pumps had an interesting problem: thousands couldn’t register more than $3.99 on their mechanical dials!

Moreover, many also weren’t able to exceed $99.99 in a single sale total. Back then, NBC stated that there were about 8,500 service stations in the US that had old-style meters, or about 17,000 individual pumps.

A Thing of the Past50s gas pump resto

The article also quotes a spokesman for the National Association of Convenience Stores as saying, “If you’re just that kind of image of the ‘50s gas station where you have a conversation, fill up and have a cup of coffee, that’s in the movies.”

Harsh words…but unfortunately, very true.

Today, some people purchase replicas of original gas pumps, while others collect restored and un-restored originals. Mom and pop service stations might be a thing of the past, but collectors across the US and beyond are keeping the rich history and nostalgia of America’s early filling stations alive even today.

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