“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk” Thomas A. Edison

By Cookie. Cookie is 14 years old. She goes to school in France.


I don’t quite agree with T. A. Edison because there is another saying:

“Necessity is the mother of invention”. This saying clearly shows that when one invents there is a need so a necessity. I will argue this article by illustrating it with two stories. One will be an anecdote in my life and the other will be about the history of French toast.


Not long ago, my mummy and I went to London. When we arrived, we had to do some grocery shopping. So we got out of the flat and I realised that it was really windy. My mummy told me to run up and get a scarf but when I got to the flat, I realised that I did not bring a scarf.

My mummy said that I could not go out without a scarf because I had a cold. She then took one of my cardigans and rolled it up; she put it round my neck and tied it up with the sleeves of the cardigan.

I have to say that that “scarf” was better than a normal scarf and quite unusual as it had a collar as well!

So, in this case, one didn’t need a good imagination and a pile of junk, it was the necessity of a scarf which led the brain to find something to replace it.


The popular history behind French toast is that it was created by medieval European cooks who needed to use every bit of food they could find to feed their families. They knew old, stale bread (French term *pain perdu* literally means *lost bread*) could be revived when moistened and heated. Cooks would have added eggs for additional moisture and protein. Medieval recipes for “French toast” also suggest this meal was enjoyed by the wealthy.

Actually, recipes for “French toast” can be traced to Ancient Roman times. One of the original French names for this dish is ‘pain à la Romaine’, or Roman bread. “In the south of France, it was traditionally eaten on feast days, particularly at Easter.”—Larousse Gastronomique, Jenifer Harvey Lang (p. 474)

Originally, people made French toast from stale bread in order to make use of bread that would otherwise have been thrown away. (See this page from Wonderpolis.)

How “French Toast” Came To Be

Back in medieval times, the need to stretch food was immense. Unlike today where we just run to the store to buy necessary ingredients, back then food items we’re much more costly and many people didn’t have the money to buy them. Coupled with the fact that many ingredients, such as eggs, breads and meats, didn’t last as long as they do today, finding a way to make what they had last was imperative.

Due to this, finding ways to stretch things, like stale bread, helped to feed the family, decrease the food budget and ensured that there was little waste. The original recipes required stale, older bread, what we call day old bread. In those days, bread was baked fresh and had a relatively short shelf life because there were no preservatives.

Soaked in milk, beaten eggs or a mixture of beaten eggs and milk or cream, it was the one way that increased the consumable life of bread, created something that almost everyone liked and was relatively simple to make. Back then, it was generally fried, like the way we cook it today.


These two examples show that when one invents something, it’s because there is a need, a necessity. Invention does not need good imagination and a pile of junk; all it needs is a necessity. “Necessity is the mother of invention”.

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