History of and Facts About the Shopping Trolley

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The first shopping trolley was invented by Sylvan Goldman in 1937. Sylvan Goldman owned a supermarket chain in Oklahoma, and he noticed his customers struggling to carry their groceries in over filled, heavy hand baskets. With the help of a mechanic, Fred Young, he made the first shopping trolley prototype from a folding chair, wheels, and a pair of wire baskets.

The shopping trolley was not immediatedly successful. Men considered pushing a trolley to be effeminate, whilst women thought it unstylish and reminiscent of pushing a baby's buggy. However, they eventually caught on because they made grocery shopping so much easier, and by 1940 their popularity had grown so much that there was a seven year waiting list for other stores to purchase them.

In 1947, Goldman improved the Shopping Trolley design by replacing the folding part with a nested design, so trolleys could be pushed into each other as they are today. He also increased the size of the trolleys, as he realised that a larger trolley leads to larger purchases.

However, no one has yet invented a trolley that will actually steer in a straight line and does not have a mind of its own, although recent innovations include:

  • A shopping trolley with a toddler seat
  • A shopping trolley with a baby seat
  • Shopping trolleys with two seats for either babies, toddlers or a mixture of the two
  • Disabled shopping trolleys - ie, shopping trolleys that attach to a wheel chair
  • Shallow shopping trolleys - for people who don't need a full size trolley, or for people with back problems that have difficulty bending down to unload them.

Interesting Facts about Shopping Trolleys

  • In America they are called "Shopping Carts"
  • Novelty shopping trolleys are sometimes available for children - they can either be miniature versions of a full size trolley (popular in Belgium) or shaped like cars or motorbikes.
  • Shopping trolleys new cost about £100.
  • Don't let your baby chew on a shopping trolley handle - a recent study showed that over 20% of shopping trolley handles were contaminated with some kind of bodily fluid (eg urine, saliva, blood, mucus or faeces) and over 50% failed a basic hygiene test (ie they were just plain dirty!).