With the start of the 2020s, we thought it would be the perfect time to learn about some cool cultural phenomena from the Roaring ’20s! As you’re working on your New Year’s resolutions for 2020, take a little time to learn about this fun, exciting decade that began 100 years ago.
1. Mass Produced Cars
Before the 1920s, Ford was the only automobile manufacturer with the technological knowledge to mass-produce cars. As the Roaring ‘20s rolled around, other makers caught up, reducing the cost of cars and turning them from a scarce luxury good to a readily available everyday commodity.
2. The Discovery of Penicillin
At the beginning of the decade, Alexander Flemming, Scottish botanist, discovered a substance that killed a number of bacteria. By the end of the decade, Flemming had named the substance ‘penicillin.’ An invaluable addition to the world of medicine, this potent antibiotic would later gain traction around the world.
3. Silent Movies, No More!
Though movies had been around since the 1880s, it wasn’t until 1927 with the release of The Jazz Singer that movies had sound. Yes, movies had already had some scoring, but The Jazz Singer featured not only a musical score, but also lip-synching synchronized to music and dialogue.
4. Manufacturing Boom
After years of recession, the ‘20s would be marked by a significant rise in U.S. manufacturing power. Like the automobile industry, other manufacturers caught on to the assembly line style of manufacturing, helping to accelerate their output power.
5. Gluten-Free Was In
Gluten-free food may have hit the mainstream media only a few years ago, but our ancestors were eating gluten-free before it was trendy. Pancakes, one of the most popular breakfast options in the 1920s, were often made using naturally gluten-free (and dairy-free, and refined sugar-free) ingredients like buckwheat, cornmeal, lard, and molasses.
6. #1 Best Selling Novels of the Decade (according to Publishers Weekly)
1920: The Man of the Forest by Zane Grey
1921: Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
1922: If Winter Comes by A.S.M. Hutchinson
1923: Black Oxen by Gertrude Atherton
1924: So Big by Edna Ferber
1925: Soundings by A. Hamilton Gibbs
1926: The Private Life of Hellen of Troy by John Erskine
1927: Elmer Gantry by Sinclair Lewis
1928: The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder
1929: All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
7. Popular Pooches
Dogs have been on the “most popular” list for a long time, and the 1920s were no exception! Boston Terriers and Cairn Terriers took the prize for #1 during most of the decade, but thanks to the popularity of Rin Tin Tin, the German Shepherd was a wildly popular breed as well.
8. A World Before Coke or Pepsi
If you wanted a soft-drink in the 1920s, your choices were fruit flavors or neutral flavors. Grape, strawberry, orange, ginger ale, and club soda were all popular choices.
9. Business Like Your Grandparents Did It
Some of the country’s favorite companies were founded in the 1920s, and chances are, you probably have one of these just a few minutes away. Included in the many companies founded during the Roaring ‘20s are CVS, Burlington Coat Factory, Lowes, RadioShack, and the Walt Disney Corporation.
10. America’s First Female President
When President Wilson fell ill due to a blood clot, First Lady Edith Wilson stepped in. De facto President Edith Wilson made policy decisions on behalf of her husband, and literally operated his hands in order to sign important documents.
And, as a bonus…
11. The Charleston
This song was composed in 1923 specifically to accompany the Charleston dance, which caused the dance style to soar in national popularity. The ragtime melody of this piece has been performed and sampled by a variety of artists, from Ginger Rogers to Will.I.Am, and it’s been used in films such as Roxie Hart, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Tea for Two. Listening to this fast-paced song is sure to make you want to get up and dance, so check out this video tutorial to learn how to dance the Charleston!