Cold Weather Became Much More Bearable Thanks To One Ambitious Teenager

Some of us revel in cold weather. Skiing, snowball fights, roaring fires — the whole idyllic-holiday-card vibe is nothing less than paradise, if that's your climate of choice. Really, though, it depends on your preference.

Sunseekers who find themselves in, Florida — the aptly-named Sunshine State — might enjoy the high temperatures, but much colder regions could prove incredibly uncomfortable for them. According to the Daily Mail, the planet's coldest place with permanent residents is Oymyakon, a village in Russia. Here, it's reported that the temperature can reach -71 Celsius (around -95.8 Fahrenheit). Only about 500 people live there, the outlet reported in 2013.

Human beings are consummate survivors, resourceful and creative. A series of innovations, from sunscreen to snowmobiles, has enhanced our ability to withstand extreme heat and cold alike. One teenager's efforts led to a patent for another important survival item: earmuffs.

Chester Greenwood is the man credited with the creation of earmuffs as we know them today. Greenwood, according to The Washington Post, was a 19th century boy from Maine who loved to ice skate. At the age of 15, he set about trying to devise a solution to a particular issue he faced, which was caused by an allergy.

Reaching a new level of ear-warming technology

The Washington Post goes on to explain that the teenage Greenwood didn't invent the earmuff as a concept. At the time, people were already attempting to insulate their ears from the bitter cold of Maine by wearing hats that had special flaps. These were of little comfort to the young man, however, who had an allergy to these woolen ear mufflers. To bring himself some relief, he enlisted his grandmother's help. Their idea was a sort of delicate metal frame around the head, to which dear old grandma would "sew little flannel pads or beaver fur (disputed)."

It was a concept so simple, yet so darn effective and indispensable, that it's not difficult to see why it had already been done in a simpler form. Greenwood didn't invent the vital ear-warming tool himself. Per Central Maine in 2013, Farmington patent agent Dennis Hazko had some harsh words to say on that score. Not only were Greenwood's earmuffs rather uncomfortable, in Hazko's view (Hazko owns one), but "there were earmuffs prior to that. It wasn't the first earmuff. It was an improved earmuff."

According to the patent agent, what Greenwood did was develop a unique hinge which allowed his earmuffs to adjust to the positioning of the ear. "That swivel hinge ... made it patentably distinct and made it a better product," Hazko concluded.

The young Greenwood may not have directly invented earmuffs, but he made them a phenomenon.

Chester Greenwood Day continues to be celebrated

Chester Greenwood's patent, which can be viewed in Google Patents, was issued to him in March 13, 1877. It proudly shows off those special hinges, which allow the device to be adjusted to better protect the ears. Suddenly, the cold was just a little more manageable, the naysayers had embraced Greenwood's "ear-mufflers," and he himself was no longer plagued by his troublesome allergy.

This is all well and good, of course, but the true impact of Greenwood's creation was that it actually transformed the town. Per Smithsonian Magazine, a factory was built in the area to cope with demand for this intriguing new product, and the business grew from there.

To this day, the people of the town continue to celebrate everything Greenwood achieved. Downtown Farmington reports that by the time he was 28, Greenwood's so-called champion earmuffs were for sale around the world. Chester Greenwood Day is celebrated in Farmington every year on the first Saturday in December, per the outlet, and it continues to draw adoring crowds.