Invention Geek – Hand Warmers?

Question from Frosty Fred.:
Can you tell me who invented those awesome hand warmer packets that you can fit in your gloves or shoes, etc?

Hello Frosty. What a timely question!

The first United States Patent for such a device was issued to Jonathan T. Ellis on January 6, 1891. He received patent number 444,395 for a hand or foot warmer. There is no evidence though that this device was ever produced.

Credit for the invention of the first commercially-produced chemical hand warmer is given to Japanese inventor Niichi Matoba. Matoba received a patent for applying the principle of an oxidation reaction that produces heat by means of platinum catalysis. He then devoted his time to researching how to make the product suitable for practical use. In 1923, he manufactured a prototype of his device naming it HAKUKIN-kairo (HAKKIN warmer). A version of these original portable hand warmers is still produced in Japan.