21 Things the World Needs to Thank the Bay Area for

In case it's not enough that San Francisco (along with the entire Bay Area) gives people all over the world a dream vacation destination, we also give the world a bunch of other stuff, too. And no, we're not just talking about one of the best baseball teams in the MLB, clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls, or ginormous burritos. We're talking about these 21 kickass things.

You're welcome, rest of the world. You're welcome.

Daisy Barringer/Thrillist

1. Irish coffee

Yes, the original Irish coffee originated at Shannon Airport in Ireland, but the drink we know and love today was perfected at The Buena Vista Café, which now serves up to 2,000 a day. Next time you order one after a day on the slopes or at your local bar, raise your glass mug to Jack Koeppler, then-owner of the Buena Vista, who challenged international travel writer Stanton Delaplane to help re-create the delicious drink. Challenge, clearly accepted.


2. Bendy straws

In the 1930s, Joseph B. Friedman watched his small daughter struggle to drink a milkshake through a straight straw at a soda fountain shop in SF. He went home that night and invented the bendy straw, effectively ensuring that we can slurp down our beverages, frozen or adult, even when we’re lying in bed.

Flickr/Ricky Brigante

3. Huey Lewis

Sure Huey was born in New York, but he was reared in Mill Valley and his influence on the SF music scene is undeniable. Basically, “Hip to be Square” predicted the rise of tech nerds before tech nerds were even a thing, and what would Back to the Future have been without Marty McFly's skateboarding to “The Power of Love”? Nothing we'd want to watch, that's what.

Flickr/Blake Burkhart

4. Levi's 501 jeans

Levi Strauss started in SF on Sacramento St in 1853, but it wasn’t until the 1890s that the first pair of 501s were created, a style that is still hugely popular all across the world today, and flatters almost every ass. #important


5. Fortune cookies

There are only two ways to know what your future holds: 1) being God, and 2) cracking open the cookie you get with your Chinese takeout. What you don't know is that psychic treat was actually first served in the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park in the 1890s or early 1900s. Yup, that cookie you associate with Chinese food is actually a twist on a cookie that originated in Japan.

6. Fantasy football

Even if your NFL team has no chance of making the playoffs, your fantasy football maybe does? At the very least it gives you a reason to spend every single Sunday from September through December in a sports bar. Who do you have to thank for that? Wilfred "Bill the Gill" Winkenbach, an Oakland-area businessman who threw the idea out to some reporters in 1962.

Flickr/Brittney Bush Bollay

7. Popsicles

Who doesn’t love to suck on frozen flavored liquid? Next time you unwrap a popsicle on a hot SF day (something we actually have now, thanks global warming!), give a shout out to Frank Epperson of Oakland, CA who debuted the concept of "frozen ice on a stick" in Alameda in 1923.

Flickr/Justin Garland

8. The mountain bike

If you’ve ever flown down the side of a mountain on a bike, you can thank Joe Breeze, a dude from Marin who's credited with introducing the first successful, purpose-built mountain bike in 1978.

9. Fruit cocktail

Did you know that the USDA says canned fruit cocktail must contain 30% to 50% diced peaches, 25% to 45% diced pears, 6% to 16% diced pineapple, 6% to 20% whole grapes, and few to no cherry halves? Did you also know that a guy from UC Berkeley and another one from San Jose are the ones who invented it? Well, now you do.

Flickr/Charlie Nguyen

10. The gay pride rainbow flag

In 1978, the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade asked Vietnam veteran Gilbert Baker to design an evergreen symbol to represent the pride movement. In an attempt to represent diversity and acceptance, Baker decided to use a rainbow because, as he explained, "The rainbow is a part of nature and you have to be in the right place to see it." The flag is now universally accepted as a symbol of gay pride, which makes Gilbert Baker a little like San Francisco's very own Betsy Ross.


11. The modern squeegee

Sure, the squeegee has been around forever, but the modern squeegee most people use today? The one with a single, precision, split rubber blade? That was invented by an Italian who created and patented it in Oakland in 1936.

Flickr/Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores

12. Pisco punch

We'll never know the exact recipe because the inventor, Duncan Nicol, took it to his grave, but we do know it involves pisco brandy, pineapple, lime juice, sugar, gum arabic, and distilled water, and that it was invented in SF at a bar called The Bank Exchange at the end of the 19th century.

13. George Lucas

Whatever you thought of Jar Jar Binks, there's no denying that Star Wars changed movies forever. Plus, Harrison Ford was super hot in Indiana Jones, so there's that.

Flickr/Ben Lei

14. Barry Bonds

You know what San Franciscans don’t care about? Non-San Franciscans opinions about Barry Bonds. He has the all-time career home run record and we love that he grew up in the Bay Area and played for the Giants. Not a fan? Then be happy SF gave you a sports icon to despise.

Flickr/Sam Howzit

15. The Mai Tai

Ordering a Mai Tai probably makes you think of Tiki bars and Hawaii, but actually you should just be thinking of Oakland 'cause that’s where the rum-based drink was invented by none other than Vic Bergeron of Trader Vic's fame.

Flickr/Yutaka Tsutano

16. The iPhone

It’s hard to believe there was a time when we didn’t all have computers permanently glued to our hands, but there was. Ever since Cupertino-based Apple Inc. changed all of that in the summer of 2007, we've never looked back. Or rather: up.

Flickr/Danielle Scott

17. Eggos

Sure, there are some really amazing waffles in the Bay Area, but you are insane if you don’t hold a place in your heart for the best frozen waffles in all of the land: the Eggo, which was invented by three brothers in San Jose, for the win.


18. Neoprene wetsuits

Every single surfer at Ocean Beach should catch their next wave for Hugh Bradner, a UC Berkeley physicist who invented the modern wetsuit in 1952.

Flickr/Lori Greig

19. Slot machines

Not-so-fun fact: slot machine win percentages are generally less than 10%. Fun fact: the first slot machine was invented by Charles Fey in SF in 1887 (or 1985... depending on which book you read/Wikipedia page you look at).

Flickr/J. Benton Adams Photography

20. Jerry Garcia

Even if their music doesn’t turn on your particular love light, you have to at least respect what The Grateful Dead did for music.

It's-It Ice Cream

The year was 1928. The location: Playland by Ocean Beach. The invention? A scoop of vanilla ice cream between two old-fashioned oatmeal cookies that was then dipped into dark chocolate. Today you can find It's-Its in vanilla, chocolate, mint, cappuccino, and seasonally: strawberry and pumpkin. You should also always find one in your mouth.

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​Daisy Barringer is Thrillist's SF Editor and there is no one on Earth she loves more than Huey Lewis. That is all. Follow her on Twitter @daisy.