Edison’s Food Machine
After Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877, Americans were sure there was no limit to his genius. So when the New York Graphic
announced on April 1, 1878 that Edison had invented a machine capable of transforming soil directly into cereal and water directly into wine, thereby ending the problem of world hunger, it found a willing audience of believers.
Newspapers throughout America copied the article and heaped lavish praise on Edison. The conservative Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
, in particular, waxed eloquent about Edison's genius in an editorial that dwelled upon the good fortune of a man like Edison having been born in the progressive nineteenth century when his genius could be appreciated. "Let steady-going people whose breath has been taken away by the pace we seem to be driving at just now, take heart therefore," it declared. "And be thankful that the genius of true benefactors of the race, like Edison, cannot now be crippled and blighted by superstition and bigotry, as it was when Galileo was forced to recant the awful heresy that two and two make four."
The New York Graphic
reprinted the Advertiser
's editorial in full. Above the article it placed a single, gloating headline: "They Bite!"