If you went on Google at all on Monday, July 10th, you might have seen the Google Doodle of the day and asked yourself, “Who is Eva Ekeblad?”.
We certainly asked, and here is what we found.
This mystery woman, who would have turned 293 years old, was not only a Swedish salonist, countess, and agronomist, but she was also a scientist. And in 1746, she discovered a method to make flour and alcohol out of potatoes. That’s right…she is the reason vodka exists.
It makes sense as to why Google would be honoring this amazing woman. Before Ekeblad, potatoes were considered inedible, and used predominantly for animals. For her study, the Swedish countess grew her own batch of potatoes. Through her experiments she saw that the starchy vegetable could be ground down into a form of flour. This discovery happened in a time when there was a shortage of grains and oats, meaning that Ekeblad’s method for food production, helped to significantly prevent a famine in Sweden.
However, helping avert a famine isn’t even her biggest claim to fame. In 1746, the agronomist discovered how to make alcohol out of potatoes. This life changing discovery not only introduced the world to vodka, but at the time it was able to increase the supply of wheat, rye, and barely, which was used to produce bread, since potatoes could be used instead to make alcohol.
Eva Ekeblad findings resulted in her becoming the first woman elected to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1748 at only 24 years old. The prestigious scientific institution is responsible for awarding the Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry every year. Ekeblad’s achievements in the science community was not repeated for more than 200 years, until an Austrian nuclear physicist, Lise Meitner, joined the academy in 1951.
Along with bringing vodka into existence, she mothered seven children and tended to the family’s estates. This wonder woman lived a life of comfort as a member of the Swedish nobility and was married to a count, Claes Claesson Ekeblad, at only 16. Her marriage also garnered her two castles from her father as a wedding present.
In her amazing life, she was able to prevent a famine, replace dangerous ingredients in beauty products with potato flour, bleach cotton and textiles with soap, and help contribute to happy hour.
So happy birthday and cheers to Eva Ekeblad!
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