Out There

Made in Chicago

Chicago gave us Twinkies, Playboy, cell phones and more


You gotta love a good invention or creation, especially the ones that make you scratch your head and wonder why you didn’t come up with the idea. There have been a number of things invented in Chicago and here’s just a sampling of things that might make you say, “Huh!”

The Film Industry: Long before Hollywood was a thing, the country’s movie industry was headquartered in Chicago, more specifically in Uptown. Essanay Studios, which was located on Argyle Street where the current St. Augustine College sits, was home to mega stars Gloria Swanson and Charlie Chaplin.

Playboy: Sure, Hef may have just put the infamous Playboy mansion in LA up for sale (for a cool $200 mil!), but none of the grotto shenanigans would ever have happened had he not created the lifestyle and entertainment magazine in Chicago in the first place. The first-ever issue of Playboy hit stands Oct. 1, 1953. Yeah yeah, we only read it for the articles, too.

Cell Phones: Where would you be today without your iPhone or Droid? You can thank Motorola, which is headquartered in suburban Schaumburg, for inventing the first-ever mobile phone.

House Music: People may think it emerged from New York or the U.K., but house music was invented right here in Chicago. DJs like Frankie Knuckles, Larry Levan and Ron Hardy spun for dance-hungry crowds at Knuckles’ club, The Warehouse, which was located at 206 S. Jefferson in the West Loop. As the ’70s moved into the ’80s, the reach of house music spread around the world and is still felt today.

Twinkies: You know you love those yellow, spongy vanilla cream-filled snack cakes, but did you know Twinkies hail from Chicago? James Alexander Dewar of Schiller Park, Ill., who worked for the Continental Baking Company, which also made Wonder Bread, invented them

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