11 Awesome Things You Didn't Know Argentina Gave the World

Hesperidina is an orange apertif of Argentine invention| © Kurman Communications, Inc.
/ Flickr
Hesperidina is an orange apertif of Argentine invention| © Kurman Communications, Inc. / Flickr
Photo of Kristin Deasy
Contributor27 October 2017

Argentina is full of inventive citizens. When there’s a problem they say, lo atamos con alambre (“we tie a wire to it”), reflecting the Argentine tendency to MacGyver everything. Read below for 10 great things Argentina has contributed to the world.

The Pen

That’s right, you have Argentina to thank for the lowly ballpoint pen. Its inventor László József Biró was from Hungary, but he was on Argentine soil when his pen met with success. Biró’s invention is so much a part of the national identity in Argentina that Inventors’ Day is celebrated on his birthday, September 29.

Ballpoint pens | © Yohan Creemers / Flickr

The Bus

The bus, or colectivo, derives its Spanish name from Argentine origin. On the day of a presidential election in Argentina in the late 1880s, people needed to be moved quickly en masse, and not everyone could afford their own fancy horse-drawn carriage. We need a “collective taxi,” thought one Spaniard, José García Gálvez, who had newly relocated to Argentina. Lo and behold, the bus was born.

Lionel Messi

By all accounts the world’s greatest living footballer, and considered by many to be the greatest football player of all time, Lionel Messi is the shining star that Argentina has given the world of football. Hailing from Rosario in Santa Fe province, Messi plays for the Argentine national team and FC Barcelona and is the only player in history to have ever been awarded the prestigious FIFA Ballon d’Or five times. Local enfant terrible Diego Maradona declared Messi his successor in the arena of football, and given Maradona’s status in Argentina as something of a national embarrassment, having Messi take his place as Argentina’s most well known export in the game can only be a good thing.


Walt Disney owes one to Argentina, big time. The Disney empire is indebted to Quirino Cristiani, an Argentine of Italian origin. Disney reportedly tried to get Cristiani to work for him, but Cristiani refused because he didn’t want to leave Argentina (aww). Cristiani made the world’s first feature-length animated; it debuted in 1917 and poked fun at the Argentine president of the time, Hipólito Yrigoyen (whose election also spurred the invention of the aforementioned bus). The film was called El Apóstol (The Apostle).


Next time you want to take your cocktail up a notch, try Hesperidina, a liquor born in Argentina. The brainchild of Melville Sewell Bagley from Maine, Hesperidina is made from bitters and orange and is said to have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits. Bagley reportedly concocted the apertif in 1864 in Buenos Aires; the drink quickly became popular, appearing in tango songs and in short stories by the iconic Argentine author Julio Cortázar. If you get your hands on Hesperidina, try making the “Melville,” a cocktail by Santiago Rocchi honoring the liquor’s inventor. It calls for 4/10 Hesperidina, 3/10 apple Schnapps Liqueur, 2/10 apple juice, and 1/10 cranberry or blueberry juice (thanks, Reddit community).

Hesperidina is an orange aperitif of Argentine invention | © Kurman Communications, Inc. / Flickr

The Duck Game

This one’s a real winner. Maybe you haven’t heard of it before, but that doesn’t mean the duck game (“juego del pato”) isn’t pure genius. It is a combination of polo and basketball. Yes. It is basically basketball with horses. Are you fascinated? Watch it here with some dramatic music:


Holophonics is like surround sound, but better. Developed by Argentine-born Hugo Zuccarelli in 1980, the sound layering system is incredibly powerful. How does it work? Sound Ideas explains:

The Artificial Heart

Argentines have a lot of heart—so much so that the nation gave the world the artificial heart, saving countless lives. Credit goes to the Argentine doctor and inventor Domingo Santo Liotta, who was born in the province of Entre Rios and developed the artificial heart in the 1960s.

The Dogo

The Argentine dogo or mastiff is quite a crossbreeding feat. Developed for hunting purposes, the dogo is so strong it can allegedly kill a wild boar. Argentine breeder Antonio Nores Martínez wanted a fierce animal that would still be completely loyal to its master. He developed the breed off the now-extinct Cordoba Fighting Dog and debuted the dogo in 1928. The large white dog also has traces of other mighty breeds, such as the Great Dane. Considered a crossbreeding triumph, the dogo is restricted in some parts of the world because of its great strength.

The Argentine dogo, or mastiff | © Hugo A. Quintero G. / Flickr

Heart Bypass

More love from the heart from Argentina. René Favaloro was born in La Plata, Argentina and developed the heart bypass while studying at the United States’ Cleveland Clinic. The breakthrough surgical procedure has saved millions of lives since 1967. When Favaloro sadly committed suicide, it was thought to be a result of his ongoing struggle to create a foundation in Argentina similar to that of the Cleveland Clinic.

The Alfajor

While perhaps not an “invention” per se, the Argentine alfajor is nonetheless a great gift to the world. The caramel-stuffed shortbread sandwich cookie bears little resemblance to its Middle Eastern descendant, a log-like treat filled with figs, honey, nuts and spices. Apart from the name, the only thing the two really have in common is powdered sugar. At any rate, the Argentine confection quickly took the world by storm.

Argentina’s iconic cookie, the alfajor | © Kim Love / Flickr

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