The chances are that in the course of the next 24 hours you’ll see at least one vending machine, umbrella or alarm clock.

You might be surprised to learn they were all invented around 2000 years ago and in the same part of the world

Greece is perhaps better known for being at the forefront of mathematics, philosophy, medicine and literature but its influence on numerous everyday items we still use today demonstrate why the country is regarded as the birthplace of western civilisation.

Because when you’ve worked out how the universe works you still need to make sure you get up in time, protect yourself from the sun and drink enough liquids.

Footprints dating back millions of years suggest Greece may have seen the first humans outside of Africa but the country itself was only recognised as an independent state 200 years ago.

So with March 25 marking Greek Independence Day, and its break from the Ottoman Empire, let’s kick back and reflect on what Greece has done for the world.

The colours of the national flag reflect the blue sky and the white topped waves of the warm seas that surround three sides of the mainland plus the 1400 islands. With each of the nine blue and white stripes said to represent one syllable of the Greek motto during the battle for independence – “Eleftheria i Thanatos,” which translates as  “Freedom or Death,”

That closeness to the sea meant the ancient Greeks were first out of the blocks when it came to mapmaking and the invention of the ship’s anchor. Of course travel broadens the mind which might explain how they led the world in seeking answers to the meaning of life and demonstrated this both through the arts and in framing fundamental laws of science.

They also recognised a business opportunity when they saw one. The Greek mathematician Hero cashed in on visitors to first century tourist attractions by inventing a machine that dispensed water in exchange for a coin. The coin weighed down a lever, opening a valve to release the water. The valve stayed open as the coin slid down the lever, then closed when the coin fell off into a cashbox – the world’s first vending machine.

The famous Greek teacher Plato designed the first alarm clock, reputedly to signal to students when his lecture was about to start. Powered by water, it made a whistling noise at a pre-designated time. Others adapted early clocks to drop a pebble onto a gong at a set time.

With some Greek islands enjoying more than 300 sunny days a year, the need for sunshades was obvious and the first record of retractable ones made from bones, wood and plant leaves date back to Greece 1700years ago. Also useful for any rare day of rain.

With the UK basking in a glorious Spring what better way to celebrate what Greece has given the world than by using the SK Mediterranean range to create a delicious mezze of sunshine snacking. No need for an alarm clock or a vending machine but if dining outside you might want to have the sunshade/umbrella handy.

About Jane Beesley
Development & Innovations Chef of SK Foods.
Your food. Our Passion.