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Sunset on Naples Beach | © Esb Professional / Shutterstock
Sunset on Naples Beach | © Esb Professional / Shutterstock
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11 Awesome Things Florida Gave the World

Picture of Karina Castrillo
Updated: 25 December 2017
Florida may be famous for its bizarre news headlines—who can forget that zombie attack in Miami or that man throwing an alligator through a Wendy’s drive-thru window? But every now and then, it radiates creations of pure genius. Here’s what we owe to the Sunshine State.

Spring Break

Are you heading to the beach during spring break? Believe it or not, the ritual began in Florida. In 1938, college swimmers were invited to the state during their break from classes to swim in a new Olympic-sized pool in Fort Lauderdale. The innocent study break quickly turned into the beach bacchanal wreaking havoc all over the world every spring.

Spring Breakers
Spring Breakers | © Oskari Kettunen / Flickr

NASCAR

William France Sr. had a need for speed, but his stock car racing needed order. He held a meeting at the Streamline Hotel in Florida to solve the issue of altering rules and thus founded the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing—NASCAR. The first NASCAR race took place in 1948 on the beach of Daytona.

Racing automobile
Racing automobile | © Torrey Wiley / Flickr

Air Conditioning Technology

Every humid and hot city in the world has to thank air conditioning for their tourism. Travelers would not be flocking to vacations in the deserts of Morocco and the swamps of Florida without a healthy, functioning, life-saving A/C, and we all owe it to John Gorrie. In the 1850s, the physician relocated to Florida to care for patients afflicted with yellow fever. In an effort to cool them, he attempted to build a type of machine that would lower the temperature of the room, but his invention was only able to chill the room for moments at a time. He died penniless in his quest to perfect the design, but he produced the skeleton of what is today the beloved cooling system.

Air conditioning ducts
Air conditioning ducts | © Ellen Forsyth / Flickr

Amazon

Miami Palmetto High School gave us Jeff Bezos, and he went on to found the largest online shopping retailer in the world.

Hooters

The restaurant notorious for its bombshell servers was incorporated in Clearwater, Florida, in 1983. Now, there are Hooters locations in 44 U.S. states and 28 other countries.

Hooters girls with a customer
Hooters girls with a customer | © flippunkrocker / Flickr

Key Lime Pie

The tangy dessert made with Key lime juice is a Florida staple, but the jury’s still out on who concocted the thing. Botanist Jack Simons is often cited as having created the pie (named after the Key limes found in the Florida Keys), but the recipe was supposedly first mentioned by Key West millionaire William Curry. Whoever was responsible, Key Lime Pie is the official dessert of the state of Florida and a worldwide favorite.

Freshly baked Key Lime Pie
Freshly baked Key Lime Pie | © Fuzzy Gerdes / Flickr

Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate

You may not want to buy concentrate, but the concoction was developed in 1948 at the University of Florida’s Citrus Research and Education Center.

Gatorade

If you’ve been quenching your thirst with Gatorade, you can thank a team of scientists at the University of Florida. In an effort to create a beverage that replaced the carbohydrates and electrolytes the university’s Gator football players lost during the games, a coach and scientists made Gatorade.

Bottles of Gatorade
Bottles of Gatorade | © Mike Mozart / Flickr

Hurricane Scale

Miami engineer Herbert Saffir and meteorologist Robert Simpson developed a system to classify a hurricane’s wind intensity in the 1970s. The 1–5 categorization is all thanks to them.

Sunscreen

While international pioneers had already conceived the formula for sunscreen, the first sunscreen lotion invented in the U.S. was crafted by Florida-based pharmacist Benjamin Green in 1944. The patent was sold to Coppertone.

Woman putting on sunscreen at the beach
Woman putting on sunscreen at the beach | © Skeyndor / Flickr

The first personal computer

The IBM Personal Computer (IBM PC) was introduced by a team of engineers and designers under the direction of Don Estridge in Boca Raton, Florida, in 1981. Take that, California!