By Theresa O'Shea
The Spanish are not famed for their inventions. Explorers, conquerors, painters, poets and writers abound from the Golden Age onwards, but inventors? What did the Spanish invent? I ask my friends. Loads of things, they start: chupachups, futbolín (table football), the submarine, chupachups, futbolín ... A closer look at several centuries of Iberic innovating, however, reveals a small but curious bag of tools and weapons, vehicles and vessels, and everyday objects and vices. Not all were successful, many are disputed, but you've probably got at least one of them in your broom cupboard.
Take the mop, for example…
Mopping is a bit of a national obsession in Spain, so it's just as well that Manuel Corominas, an engineer in the air force, designed a device to get Spanish women off their knees. On a trip to the US in the 1950's, he observed how the Americans washed the floor: with a flat mop that you wrang-out through rollers in a bucket. With the help of his friend, Emilio Bellvis, a mechanic at the Zaragoza air base, he set up the company Rodex and went into mop production.
According to the authors Fregona.net, however, it was Bellvis who designed the mop and bucket as we know them. One night in 1965, he apparently sat bolt upright in bed and said to his wife something along the lines of: I have seen the future of kitchen floors and they are to be washed using a bucket with a slatted funnel and a conical-shaped mop that's much easier to squeeze. In January 2005, the daily online newspaper 20minutos.es printed a series of letters between Corominas and various members of the Bellvis family disputing who was the “real” father of the mop.