George Washington Carver inventions literally fill pages with innovations, mainly related to food. While most people think Carver invented the peanut or peanut butter, they undoubtedly slept through their history class or had somewhat less than scholarly teacher, so they fail to know the true volume of George Washington Carver's inventions. Spoiler alert: Peanut butter was used by the Aztec civilization and they lived more than a year or two before Carver was born. The real facts: George Washington Carver was a general brainiac. He was a thinker and an inventor and, aside from his work with peanuts, he also had a major thing for pecans, soybeans and sweet potatoes not necessarily as food stuffs—although they are tasty—but also for use in manufacturing and industry. So much for the peanut butter legacy, but George Washington Carver was certainly a fan of the legume.
- Peanuts This food category supplied Carver with his main claim to fame in the invention category. George Washington Carver worked as a agricultural chemist and his stock and trade was improving everyday things around the house and at work. Carver focused on peanuts during his work as a teacher at Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute for Negroes, the early name for the modern Tuskegee Institute. Peanuts were a common southern crop and Carver tinkered with things to improve growing conditions and ways to incorporate peanuts into common products, including textile dyes. Have peanut, will travel was his mantra.
- Sweet potatoes George Washington Carver expanded his mantra to include, "Have sweet potatoes, will travel." The taters were also a common southern crop, but not as common as cotton. Carver viewed his teaching as a sort of mission to help the students at his school and for American businesses and manufacturing to rise about other production around the world. By improving American production methods, he thought, everyone in the country had an improved lot. Carver saw the southern reliance on cotton as a determent to the region. By working to make inventions that used sweet potatoes, he saw the scope of agriculture expanding for southern farmers. More demand, more crops sold. Sweet potatoes have fiber and can also be used as an ingredient in industrial processes. Think fuel briquettes, chili sauce, axial grease and even instant coffee.
- Soybeans More fiber, lots of soy production in the American South and more inventions for George Washington Carver. The cycle continued for Carver in soy production. The more soy produced, the less reliance on cotton. By now you have Carver's modus operandi. Look around you at things close at hand or the type of products that could be farmed and use those to invent practical products. Carver also used soybeans to enhance products that other folks invented to improve the products. Carver was more about the inventions than he was about big bucks. Carver was offered a fortune to work in private industry, but he turned down the job to teach. He thought teaching was his calling. Soybeans can be used in pavement, synthetic rubber and even plastic.
- Cosmetics There isn't any written explanation why George Washington Carver turned to an invention dealing with cosmetics, but since cosmetics, both early and modern, are made with natural dyes and food stuffs, it's a natural that Carver would have a patent for cosmetics. Since he didn't profit from his inventions, don't expect to see Carvers name on any modern cosmetics.
- Paint Stains. George Washington Carver inventions also include two patents for paints and stains. Carver's motivation to invent dyes and paint stains came from the large amount of dyes and stains imported from Europe. His inventions in this category added more than 500 different shades of dye for use in American industry.