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Pitt's Historic Impact

Cool Things by Pitt Alumni


Who invented the banana split? Or the Nerf football? Who bred the horse that won the 2007 Kentucky Derby? Pitt alumni, that’s who. And those aren’t the only cool things they’ve done.

National Public Radio ranked The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle (A&S '59) in the 55th spot on its list of the top-100 science fiction and fantasy books of all time. See the full NPR list.

In 1970, while Fred Cox (A&S '62) was a kicker for the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, he and a friend invented the Nerf football. Since then, tens of millions of the balls have been tossed and kicked around backyards, living rooms, and alleged workplaces. "Secret Life: Birth of a Nerf" in Pitt Magazine

Bill Kennedy (PHARM '61) invented Udderly Smooth for use on dairy cows, but the cream has since gained widespread use as a moisturizer for people—perfect for cold winters in Pittsburgh (or anywhere else). The Udderly Smooth Web site

Already a top banana among U.S. universities, Pitt became a world-class sundae school when David Evans Strickler (PHARM 1906) created the first banana split in 1904. Read about Pitt and The Split.

At age 83, James Tafel (BUS '50) achieved a lifelong dream when his horse Street Sense won the 2007 Kentucky Derby. The New York Times on Tafel's triumph.

Jerome Charles White Jr. (SIS '03) is huge in Japan, where he’s better known by his stage name, Jero. He is Japan’s first African American singer of enka—a popular ballad style—and won Best New Artist at the 50th annual Japan Record Awards, the Japanese equivalent of the Grammys. Watch a Jero video.

Hal K. Wrigley (DEN '65,'67) founded Applied Concepts, Inc., to develop and manufacture RoboGrip pliers, which became the bestselling hand tool in Sears’ history and received the Top 20 Tools Award from Motor Trend magazine. Hal Wrigley named a Pitt Legacy Laureate.