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slides: 20 Awesome Things that Come From Rhode Island

Sunday, May 01, 2016


Rhode Island is known for its love of Dels Lemonade and coffee milk- but did you know the stories behind these RI staples?

There are alot of well known, everyday things that come from RI that you may not know about - the first diner, the first modern sprinkler system, plus much more

We may complain about corrupt politicians and potholes, but there are many things to brag about that come from our state.

Check out 20 awesome things that come from Rhode Island in the slideshow below:


Related Slideshow: 20 Awesome Things that Come From Rhode Island

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The Diner

Walter Scott of Providence created the first diner in 1872. He sold food out of a horse-pulled wagon to employees of the Providence Journal. Haven Brothers in downtown Providence continues the tradition to this day.

Image: Finrylr/Flickr

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The Quonset Hut

These unique structures were first developed for military use and named for Quonset Point, at the Davisville Naval Construction Battalion Center in North Kingstown.

Between 150,000 and 170,000 Quonset huts were manufactured during World War II, and many were sold as surplus after the war, and remain in use today.

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Pell Grants

Created in 1965, The Pell Grant is named after Democratic U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island. 

A key way for many students to afford college who otherwise couldn't, a Pell Grant, unlike a loan, does not have to be repaid. Pell Grants usually are awarded only to undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor's or a professional degree.

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Successful Rhode Island businessman Giovanni Feroce relaunched the BENRUS brand, a company with a rich legacy as a military watch maker. Under Feroce, who purchased the brand in 2014, the company is being built into a broader lifestyle brand with several retail stores opening around the country.  

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Basketball's "Fast Break" Play

University of Rhode Island basketball coach Frank Keaney is credited with introducing the concept of “fast break” in basketball, in which the offensive team rushes the ball up the court in order to get a good shot before the defense is set. This is also why the nickname of the URI Rams is “The Running Rams. Keaney coached the Rams from 1921 to 1948.

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Colonial Mills Braided Rugs

For over 30 years, Colonial Mills has been manufacturing quality rugs just steps from the historic Slater Mill, the birthplace of America’s textile industry, in Pawtucket. Throw rugs you find at Kohls and other huge retailers around the country are made right here in Rhode Island. Who knew?

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American Tourister Luggage

Sol Koffler founded American Luggage Works in Providence, Rhode Island in the early 1930’s. He was wanted to produce reasonably luggage priced during the Great Depression. Koffler devised a new line of luggage that a significant improvement over anything else on the market - he named it American Tourister.

Who can forget the famous "Gorilla" commercial from 1971?

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Farm Aesthetics

Farmaesthetics founder Brenda Brock first made her handmade herbal skincare preparations available to customers, other than friends & family, in the summer of 1999 at an organic farmstand in rural Rhode Island.

Today her full line of 100% natural skincare products for face & body are used & sold in the finest spas & retailers in the world

Brenda Brock was honored as the 2013 Rhode Island Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

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Glee Gum

Glee Gum is a natural chewing gum that doesn’t contain any preservatives, artificial flavors, colorings, or sweeteners. It’s based right here in Providence under the company Verve, inc., founded in 1995 by Deborah Schimberg.

It was a 1992 trip to an economically depressed chicle-producing community in Guatemala that inspired Schimberg to create a market for the product stateside that was delicious, sustainable and healthy.

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The Modern Sprinkler System

The modern sprinkler system was developed right here in Rhode Island. In 1892, Frederick Grinnell organized the General Fire Extinguisher Co. in Providence. Although his company has been absorbed by several corporations along the years, SimplexGrinnell remains one of the largest and best known names in fire supression technology. It all started here in Providence.

Photo: Tim Riley/Flickr

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Olneyville NY System Gaggers

A hot wiener, or “gagger”, is made with a hot dog made of veal and pork, which gives it a different taste from a beef hot dog.  It’s served in a steamed bun, and topped with celery salt, yellow mustard, chopped onions, and a seasoned meat sauce (made with cumin, paprika, chili powder, and allspice). 

The name “New York System” first appeared in Rhode Island in the early 1900s as a marketing strategy, when hot dogs were closely associated with New York's Coney Island.

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Pizza Strips

Pizza strips are beloved in Southern New England and especially Rhode Island, but rarely found outside of the area.

They’re traditionally made with no cheese or other toppings and are served at room temperature. 

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Alex and Ani

Alex and Ani was founded in Rhode Island in 2004 by Carolyn Rafaelian. 

The company’s original plan was to create “bangle bracelets, necklaces, earrings and rings that adorn the body, enlighten the mind, and empower the spirit".

The first retail Alex and Ani store opened in 2009.

Alex and Ani is one of Rhode Island’s most successful companies.

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Mr Potato Head

This iconic child's toy was invented and developed by George Lerner in 1949, and first manufactured and distributed by Rhode Island based toy giant Hasbro in 1952. 

Mr. Potato Head is so Rhode Island, he was the basis of a 2000 tourism campaign which saw many different themed 6 ft Mr. Potato Heads pop up around the state.

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Rhode Island Civil War General and later Governor and US Senator Ambrose Burnside was noted for his unusual facial hair, grown in front of his ears to his mustache but with chin clean-shaven; the word burnsides was coined to describe this style. The syllables were later reversed to “sideburns.”

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Coffee Milk

The exact origin of coffee milk is unknown, but some trace it back to the Italian immigrant population in Providence around the turn of the 20th century.

In 1938, Warwick based Eclipse began promoting its own coffee syrup product, followed by Lincoln's Autocrat Coffee in the 1940s. 

Coffee Milk was selected as the official beverage of Rhode Island in 1993.

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Del's Frozen Lemonade

Angelo DeLucia, the founder of Del’s got his recipe from his father, Franco DeLucia, who brought the recipe from Italy. Angelo invented a machine to mass-produce the frozen lemonade.

The first Del's stand was a pushcart in Cranston in 1948. Soon after, DeLucia started using trucks to serve the frozen treat all over the state. 

In addition to the classic lemon flavor, Del’s is now available in watermelon, peach-mango, blueberry, cherry, grapefruit, and pomegranate flavors.

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A Better Steam Engine

George Corliss, of Providence, made a great thing better with his Corliss steam engine. 

It’s widely considered one of the greatest engineering achievements of the 19th century. It provided a reliable, efficient source of industrial power, allowing factories in areas which did not have reliable or abundant water power.

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A jonnycake is fried type of gruel made from yellow or white corn meal, mixed with salt and hot water or milk, and sometimes sweetened. 

According to Kenyon's, the Usquepaugh (a village in Richmond and South Kingstown) based manufacturer of the corn meal used to make Johnnycakes,  "The heated debate over the proper way to cook them has been going on for years.  Johnny Cakes are a mix of white corn with a dash of sugar and salt, combined with milk or water and cooked on a griddle."


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