One evening in the summer of 1976, Erling Vangedal-Nielsen sat with five of his friends at his summer cottage. They had a bottle of whiskey to drink but were running out of ice cubes. The traditional ice cube tray couldn’t keep up. Erling came up with the idea of filling a plastic bag with water, putting it in the freezer and using a hammer to break the ice into cubes. This is how his invention of the ice cube bags came to life.
It took him two years to develop. It was patented in 1977 and the first bags were sold in 1978. Today, these self-seal easy-release ice cube bags are sold worldwide – even in Almuñécar. The ice cube bags were originally made by his own company, but when sales increased, he entered into a license agreement with a Danish company called Schur. In 1989 they bought the global rights to manufacture and sell the invention, which gave Erling the financial freedom to do what he wanted with his life.
It so happens that Schur International also acquired the rights to another cool and innovative Danish invention, namely DropStop. The inventor, Brian Vang Jensen came up with the idea after an embarrassing incident where he spilled wine on a beautiful white tablecloth, which happened to be an heirloom. He wanted to find a solution that would prevent wine drops from dripping from a wine bottle after pouring – as had happened to him. He cut a round disc out of a beer can and inserted it into a wine bottle. It turned out to be the perfect solution. He developed the wine pourer and called it DropStop. It’s a disc that you simply roll up and insert into the wine bottle. You can pour the wine without ever spilling a single drop. It is also sold all over the world and is a great little tool to have in a wine-loving country like Spain.
Denmark is a creative and innovative little country – I guess that is how we survive, financial crisis or not. Danes have contributed with other notable inventions you may not have realized were Danish. These include the dry cell battery, invented in 1887 by Wilhelm Hellesen. Today, Duracell owns the brand name.
A Dane by the name Peter Jensen was instrumental in the invention of the loudspeaker. Ole Kirk Christiansen invented the Lego bricks.
Elise Soerensen, a 50-year old nurse, was responsible for another great invention in the 1950’s. The motivating factor was her 32-year-old sister’s struggle to recover from colon cancer. After her sister had undergone colostomy (a surgical procedure that creates an artificial opening for the elimination of bodily wastes) she was faced with physical and social limitations. The ostomy appliances back then were not very effective when it came to odour and leakage prevention. Elise developed the first disposable ostomy bag with an adhesive ring – which made it fit tightly to the skin. This prevented leakage and gave her sister the ability to go out and have a somewhat normal life again. Thus the company Coloplast was founded, which today operates worldwide and employs more than 7000 people.
Living in Spain you might be familiar with Skype (the free Internet phone network) to chat with family back home. The co-founder of Skype was a Danish man called Janus Friis. They sold it to e-bay in 2005 and became instant multi-millionaires. Thank goodness for ingenious minds.