Who invented hot hands?
The question popped into my mind as I strolled through what is called “Breakout Day” at the annual conference of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association in Florence, South Carolina. That’s the day when various outdoor retailers and manufacturers set up booths to show off their wares to writers from around the country.
Brittany Self, who has been the Marketing Coordinator for Hot Hands and Grabber for a little more than a year, was there. She lit up when the question came up.
Hand warmers are a great way to stay warm in the cold, and they’re safe to use. They’re filled with iron and carbon, which heat up through a chemical reaction that converts the iron oxide into thermal energy. That happens quickly when the packets are exposed to oxygen, which is why they’re packaged in airtight bags.
The first hand warmers were invented in Japan in 1923. They looked a lot like cigarette lighters and were ignited with platinum catalyst technology. But they have a long history of predecessors. Metal and ceramic box-shaped warmers a few inches across, with carrying handles, were common in ancient China. These were used to keep hands and feet warm as people traveled on horseback or walking carriage rides.
More sophisticated hand warmers, made of bronze or pottery, were shaped into animals, flowers and turtle shells. They were used by ladies’ maids to keep the hands of their mistresses warm as they walked through the streets on a cold winter journey.