10 Essential Things That Belgium Gave The World

The First Widely Used Contraceptive Pill

Photo: Pixabay/pubic domain

Flemish doctor Ferdinand Peeters gave a gift to women everywhere when he secretly sent his recipe for a new and improved contraceptive pill to a German medical company to be produced.

The birth control pill may have originated in America under the name Enovid, but there were many side effects with that first version, including severe nausea, headaches, and dizziness.

The Saxophone

The instrument maker feared his saxophone would never be more than a popular band instrument.

Photo: Pixabay/public domain

Two decades later and its sounds could be heard in symphony orchestras across America, and its soulfulness would be one of the defining characteristics of the jazz age.

The World Wide Web

When talking about Belgian modesty, Robert Cailliau is a great example.

As co-creator of the World Wide Web, while he worked at Geneva’s CERN facilities, Cailliau has won what’s considered the Nobel Prize for computing, along with Englishman Tim Berners-Lee.

For someone who has officially been deemed a co-inventor of the internet, Cailliau has remained surprisingly grounded, emphasizing that he mostly helped to develop the project.

Inline Skates

Jean-Joseph Merlin from Huy, Wallonia, was the first to zoom around on inline skates.

Photo: kyu/Flickr

Quite the showman, the Belgian entered a 1760 soiree in London with small metal wheels underfoot while playing the violin.

The spectacle ended with him smashing into an expensive mirror and severely cutting himself. After his disastrous fall, Merlin never got around to patenting his idea.

French Fries

That has been a huge misunderstanding. French fries, you see, they aren’t actually French at all.

Photo: pittaya/Flickr

The Allied American soldiers who came to the Belgian Ardennes during the First World War only called them that because the Wallonian people handing them the delicious golden sticks also spoke French.

The Big Bang Theory

It was a Belgian Catholic priest that came up with the Big Bang Theory. In his doctoral thesis of 1927,

Photo: FlashMovie/Shutterstock

Georges Lemaître went head to head with his colleague Einstein, who at that time believed the universe was static, to state that it was actually expanding.

Four years later, Lemaître proposed the hypothesis of the primeval atom or ‘Cosmic Egg,’ which the British Association in London initially laughed at and in the beginning was mockingly referred to as ‘the Big Bang.’

Speculoos Spread

The world didn’t know it needed speculoos spread until...

Photo: StarApart/Flickr

... until two different Belgian chefs presented their paste made out of the local spiced biscuits on the 2007 TV show De Bedenkers.

Since then, the popularity of the hearty spread has skyrocketed at home as well as abroad, inciting many lawsuits about patent rights in the process.

Soft-Centered Pralines

When apothecary Jean Neuhaus arrived in Brussels in 1857, he decided to top his medicines with a chocolate coating to make them easier on the taste buds.

Photo: Pixabay/public domain

Fifty-five years later, his grandson Jean Neuhaus Jr., an avid chocolate fan, took out the medicine part and instead filled the jackets with fresh cream.

He gave his creation the fancy name ‘praline,’ and the rest is delicious history.


When thinking of cricket, lush green lawns with Brits in crisp white outfits usually comes to mind;

Photo: Pixabay/public domain

However, a recent academic study shows that the English pastime probably was invented across the pond.

After discovering a 1533 poem by John Skelton in which Flemish immigrants are called ‘kings of crekettes,’ many experts now believe that weavers from Northern Europe brought the game over with them as they settled in Britain and played it in the fields next to the ones where their sheep stood grazing.

Mosquito Milk

Invented by a bright young chemist from Antwerp, who, much like gynecologist Peeters, noticed that the existent product wasn’t cutting it.

In the case of mosquito repellents, the offending side effect was an abominable smell. Enter Alfons Van Doninck with his special milk that was being used all over the world in less than three years.

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