When Sylvan Goldman rolled out his "folding basket carriers" for the first time at his Humpty Dumpty supermarket chain in Oklahoma City on June 4, 1937, few could have guessed that the haphazard contraption would go on to revolutionize the grocery store industry. The history books show that a handful of unwitting Oklahoma City shoppers actually witnessed the birth of an American cultural icon—the shopping cart—exactly 80 years ago.
It took more than a few iterations to get from "folding basket carriers" to the shiny, maneuverable carts we know and love today. Goldman’s original design was brilliantly simple. It involved placing a basket on the seat of a folding chair, and wheels on the legs. In 1940, the pioneering grocer patented an improved version of his original design comprised of two baskets (one on the top and one on the bottom) and a folding frame.
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According to the Smithsonian, Goldman was unseated as the reigning king of carts in 1947 when Orla Watson’s “Telescoping Shopping Cart” debuted at Floyd Day’s Super Market in Kansas City, Missouri. This model, which is very similar to the one in stores today, was unique for its ability to “nest” with other carts.
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So there you have it! Happy 80th birthday to American children’s preferred method of transportation, and the saving grace of parents and shoppers everywhere.