Leicester has recently been undergoing a reevaluation of it’s significance as an important English city – something that’s been long overdue.
The discovery of Richard III under a car park in the city centre back in 2012, and his subsequent re-interment, certainly got tongues wagging.
But it was left to Claudio Ranieri and his heroes in blue four years later to well and truly plonk Leicester in front of people’s faces.
I remember sitting next to bewildered journalists from the likes of the Wall Street Journal and New York Times on a sunny May day in a city centre pub the morning Leicester City lifted the Premier League trophy… smiling to myself.
The Leicester Lockdown may have got some people sneering again but, now we’re finally out of the shadows, it’s worth taking every opportunity to remind the world what it was missing – or overlooking – all along.
Here are 15 thing the city of miracles has given the world:
Hope, fairytales that come true
We’d better start with the catalyst. Although sporting heroes such as footballer, turned TV personality Gary Lineker, snooker star Mark Selby and rugby icon Martin Johnson and his Leicester Tigers have all earned acclaim for their brilliant achievements, it was Leicester City’s astonishing victory that trumped the lot.
It showed the world that no matter how much things may bee stacked against you, dreams can actually come true – and they did.
Never again will the bookies hand out odds of 5,000-1 for a provincial town or city’s beleaguered football team to storm the Premier League title.
Dilly ding, dilly dong indeed…
Fox’s Glacier Mints
One of the most famous boiled sweets were created and sold to the world from here in Leicester.
They have been manufactured by Fox’s Confectionery in the city since way back in 1918.
The mints were developed by Eric Fox, one of the original founders of Fox’s Confectionery. Since 1922 the mints have been sold with the Peppy the polar bear icon.
Talking of raising a few smiles, Monty Python pioneer Graham Chapman hails from Wigston.
So Leicestershire had an influence in the surrealist tearing up of the rulebooks that the Pythons undertook in the 1960s.
Their call for something completely different ended up influencing nearly all modern comedy from Deadpool to The Simpsons, and creating an entirely new term, Pythonesque, for their ideas.
Sir Alec Jeffreys developed DNA profiling while at the University of Leicester in the mid-1980s.
And its first use forensically was also carried out in Leicestershire, helping to solve the murder and rape of two teenage girls and convict Colin Pitchfork of the crimes in 1988.
The subsequent impact of DNA on solving paternity and immigration cases, catching criminals and freeing the innocent has been extraordinary, directly affecting the lives of millions of people worldwide.
Walkie talkies, or as they’re more boringly known, handheld transceivers, were developed in the Second World War by
Hugely useful tech for the military, they then spread to commercial use and eventually a popular children’s toy.
Mobiles may have killed off their use nowadays, but there’s a simple joy still of making a static noise and ending every sentence ‘over’.
Nobody does savoury food quite like Leicestershire.
We may not be able to lay claim to inventing cheese, but we make the very best here, in the form of Stilton and Red Leicester.
In fact, if it’s not from our corner of the East Midlands, it can’t be called Stilton.
Our Melton pork pies are also protected in the same way, and nobody creates a crunchy crisp quite like Walkers.
Okay, we’ll concede this hasn’t exactly changed the world.
But the peculiar sport of extreme ironing – where competitors take an iron and board to the most extreme location possibles and ironing a few items of laundry – was invented here back in the late 1990s.
The creation of Phil ‘Steam’ Shaw’s grew in popularity to the point in 2002 where the first Extreme Ironing World Championships was held in Munich.
Surely it’s worth a mention for raising a few smiles.
The singer who stopped the Beatles’ #1 winning streak in the pop charts
It wasn’t the Rolling Stones or the Supremes but Leicester lad Arnold George Dorsey – better known as Engelbert Humperdinck – who pipped the Fab Four’s latest single to number one in the UK charts in 1967 with his version of Eddie Miller’s ‘Release Me (and Let Me Love Again)’.
The song spent six weeks at the top of the charts and prevented the Beatles’ landmark single ‘Penny Lane’/ ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ from reaching the top spot.
In doing so, our Enge broke the band’s streak of 17 consecutive #1 hits.
The long-running children’s magazine show was first aired back in 1958, and is still a favourite on the BBC today.
Its success in the early days can be largely credited to Leicester’s Biddy Baxter.
She was one of the show’s first editors and is famously the inventor of the iconic Blue Peter Badge.
The best toys
Coalville company Palitoy had a hand in some of the best loved toys we grew up with.
They made the Star Wars range back in the 1970s, brought us Action Man, and patented some of the first dolls which could ‘sleep’ and also wet themselves.
They also produced Airfix, Meccano, Play-doh and more.
In addition, the classic 1970s board game Mastermind was developed by Leicester’s Invicta Plastics, and the famous man in a grey suit and his mysterious sidekick were recruited off the street for the photoshoot here in Leicester.
All those in favour say ‘aye’.
Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, led the opposition to King Henry III and helped develop the political landscape of the country.
He called two parliaments, which stripped the king of his unlimited authority and gave power to ordinary citizens from up and down the land for the first time.
Blu Tack is an iconic piece of stationery and can be found in homes and offices across the globe. But did you know that it was invented right here in Leicester ?
The Bostik factory, in Ulverscroft Road, Belgrave, still produces up to 100 tonnes of Blu Tack every week.
Since 1969, the recipe for making Blu Tack has been kept a closely-guarded secret, and none of the staff at the Belgrave factory know it.
However the substance, made from chalk, oil and other chemicals, was actually a by-product of an experiment to make a new sealant.
The experiment was a complete failure, but someone started using the goo to put up notices. Once the company realised what they had, they turned it blue – and the rest is history.
The fact we can easily jet off to Tenerife to sun ourselves, or at least could until the coronavirus pandemic struck, is down to Leicester’s own Thomas Cook.
What started as a modest train excursion to Loughborough in 1841 led to the founding of an international travel company and the age of mass travel.
Think of that when you’re next able to book a break!
Dimpled golf balls
Next time you go for a drive, remember the help that Leicester has given your game.
Without the dimples, your golf ball would only go around 130 yards.
The modern dimpled design was developed more than 100 years by William Taylor, who noticed that older worn balls tended to outperform smooth new ones, and his idea is still very much in use today.
In 1961, a traffic wardens unit was established here in Leicester, and our wardens were the first to operate anywhere in the UK outside London.
The scheme, which operated out of the police’s headquarters on the corner of Charles Street and St Georges Way, was a success and become replicated across the country.
Don’t blame us, we didn’t invent them, and there aren’t any of them in the city luckily.
But research by Ken Pounds and his team at the University of Leicester expanded our knowledge of black holes, and helped to provide the best evidence so far that black holes are in fact extremely common in the universe.
Did you know that the English language we use today actually originated in Leicester?
It’s thought that after warring Anglo Saxons and Vikings set aside their differences, the two communities started sharing their trades and languages – and helped to shape modern standard English.
If it wasn’t for this, we would probably still use an Anglo-Saxon style language more similar to German.
What do you think is the best thing that Leicester has given the world? Let us know in the comments!