Kelling-Karel Co. / Kelling Nut Co., est. 1906

Museum Artifact: Squirrel Nut Cracker, 1910s

Made By: Kelling-Karel Company / Double Kay / Kelling Nut Co., 217 W. Huron St., Chicago, IL

“The ‘Squirrel’ Nut Cracker is suitable for all kinds of table nuts, and is so designed that it cracks the shell but not the kernel. It is adjustable for different sizes of nuts—pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts, etc.. Are all easily cracked with it.

F.H. Smith MFG Co., est. 1892

Museum Artifact: “The Universal” Cast Iron Rivet Setter, c. 1910s

Made By: F. H. Smith MFG Co., 3017-47 W. Carroll Ave, Chicago, IL

Half a century before Rosie the Riveter turned a once tedious trade into a patriotic call-to-arms, Chicago inventor and businessman Fred Herbert Smith was already ahead of the curve, if only lacking in proto-feminist iconography.

Smith (1858-1908) grew up near Boston,

Ekco Products Co., est. 1888

Museum Artifacts: EKCO Miracle Can Opener 885 (c. 1960s) and EKCO Helmet Bottle Stopper (c. 1940s)

Made by: Ekco Products Co., 1949 N. Cicero Ave., Chicago, IL

“We taught your mother a new way to open chicken soup,” read the presumptuous tagline of a 1965 advertisement for the Miracle Can Opener—arguably the most recognizable of the thousands of utensils produced by the EKCO Housewares Company.

Chicago Hardware Foundry Co. & Harper Supply Co., est. 1897

Museum Artifact: Cast-Iron Dog Tray Nut Cracker, 1899

Made By: Harper Supply Co. (40 Dearborn St, Chicago) / Chicago Hardware Foundry Co. (2500 Commonwealth Ave., North Chicago, IL)

“It is a fact that the successful sale of any product is dependent upon the genuineness of the need for which it is manufactured.” —Earl P. Sedgwick, co-founder and president of the Chicago Hardware Foundry Company

While Mr.

Indestro MFG Co. & Duro Metal Products, est. 1917

Museum Artifact: Indestro Bottle Capper, 1920s

Made By: Indestro MFG Co., 3429 W. 47th St. / Duro Metal Products, 2649 N. Kildare Ave.

When Gertrude McNaught Odlum died in 1992, aged 96, she was widely remembered as an award-winning breeder of dairy cows, owning a pair of multi-million dollar farms in the Chicago suburbs (“Rolling Acres” and “Odlum Farm”). Far less publicized,

G. Felsenthal & Sons, est. 1898

Museum Artifact: Altitude Correction Computer, c. 1945

Made By: G. Felsenthal & Sons, 4100 W. Grand Ave., Chicago, IL

“No sign posts on the mountains . . . no concrete highways in the soup . . . no rocky peak so kind it steps aside to let a plane go by. Yet, with the navigational instruments precision made by Felsenthal, in Felsenthal Plastics,

Adjustable Clamp Company, est. 1903

Museum Artifact: Jorgensen Hand Screw Clamps, c. 1950s

Made by: Adjustable Clamp Co., 417 N Ashland Ave., Chicago, IL

Back in 2015, when the Made In Chicago Museum was in its developmental stages, the Adjustable Clamp Company stood out as the rare “feel good” story amidst a sea of shuttered factories, outmoded merchandise, and forgotten dreams. The respected tool manufacturer, which changed its name to Pony Tools in 2013 (adopting the title of one of its’ long-running brands),

Chicago Printed String Company, est. 1915

Museum Artifact: Ribbonette Ribbon Spool Dispenser, c. 1940s

Made By: Chicago Printed String Co., 2300 W. Logan Blvd, Chicago, IL

“In the decorative wrapping and ribbon business, you can’t find any larger than Chicago Printed String.” —Chicago Tribune, August 5, 1960

While the name would certainly suggest a homegrown original, the Chicago Printed String Company could actually trace its beginnings about 4,500 miles to the east,

White Cap Company, est. 1926

Museum Artifact: Vapor-Vacuum Jar Cap Opener, 1950s

Made By: White Cap Company, 1819 N. Major Ave., Chicago, IL

If you want to start a successful business, invent a solution to one of mankind’s great conundrums. If you want to stay in business, be ready to fix all the new problems your solution creates.

Back in 1930, a small Goose Island start-up called the White Cap Company introduced its “Vapor Vacuum” lid sealing system—a revolutionary new steam-based method for preserving the freshness and flavor of bottled commercial foods.

Automatic Pencil Sharpener Co., est. 1905

Museum Artifacts: (1) “U.S. Automatic” Pencil Sharpener, 1908; (1) “Giant,” (1) ‘Gem,” (2) “Chicago” (1920s), and (4) “Dexter” sharpeners, 1930s

Made By: Automatic Pencil Sharpener Co. / Spengler-Loomis MFG Co., 58 E. Washington St., Chicago, IL . Factory: 2415 Kishwaukee Street, Rockford, IL.

For many of us, the sight of an old desk-mounted, mechanical pencil sharpener brings back some sensory-charged childhood memories—the thrilling turn of the crank,

Scholl MFG Co., est. 1906

Museum Artifact: Scholl’s Arch Fitter, 1910

Made By: The Scholl MFG Co. / Dr. Scholl’s, 213 W. Schiller St., Chicago, IL

The rather intimidating metal clamping device pictured above was manufactured around 1910, and represents one of the earliest inventions of a young Chicago podiatrist turned entrepreneur named William Mathias Scholl.

Now wait a minute . . . Does this mean that the ubiquitous pharmacy icon “Dr.

Signode Steel Strapping Co., est. 1913

Museum Artifact: Signode No. 1 Rawhide Mallet, c. 1940s

Made By: Signode Steel Strapping Co., 2618 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL

Despite its century-long history and former Fortune 500 status, Signode has never quite become a household name—nor has the firm ever concerned itself much with the household. The company’s natural ecosystem, instead, has always been the warehouse; the docks; the receiving departments—any industrial landscape where they could wrap themselves around the cargo.

F.W. Planert & Sons, est. 1898

Museum Artifact: Planert Ice Skate Sharpening Jig, 1910s

Made By: F.W. Planert & Sons, Inc., 939 N. Robey Street (aka N Damen Ave.), Chicago, IL

Patented in 1910, this elegantly rustalgic ice skate clamping device, or “jig,” was used to keep a skate stabilized while its blade was hand sharpened—cuz that’s what the kiddos had to do back in the day. The manufacturer,