Chocolate Heir Helped Create One of the Best Vacuum Cleaners?: The Amazing Story of Fry and Dyson

What do chocolate and vacuum cleaners have in common? Turns out, if you’re Dyson, quite a lot. This week, we stumbled upon Tim Ferris’s latest podcast episode (listen here) — a lively interview with Sir James Dyson. Within the first 10 minutes of the episode, you very quickly learn: Jeremy Fry, as in Fry’s Chocolate (Cadbury), helped Dyson to become the inventor that he is today. So, it’s fair to argue that chocolate, more specifically, the world’s oldest chocolate bar company (1866!), helped create the incredible Dyson brand.

So what’s the short version of the story of chocolate and vacuum cleaners?

Jeremy Fry (1924-2005), one of the heirs to J.S. Fry of Fry’s Chocolate, was an engineer-inventor who created an electrical and mechanical engineering business where Dyson was employed.

According to this great article in The Independent, “Fry was born in Bristol in 1924, the second son of the last chairman of the Fry’s chocolate concern, Cecil Fry, who had enraged the many Fry aunts and cousins by arranging for the sale of the company to Cadbury’s, the arch-enemy. Jeremy was educated at Gordonstoun, joined the Royal Air Force and was qualifying to become a pilot in North America when the Second World War ended.”

Jeremy Fry has numerous accolades, inventing lots of very interesting machines. During one point of his career, Fry created Rotork Marine. One of his young employees at the time, only 20 or 21, was James Dyson, and Fry recognized his skills.

Over the course of four years, together, Fry and Dyson designed 1) the Sea Truck, a flat-hulled, high speed fiberglass landing craft capable of use without jetties or harbor facilities, and used by the Egyptian army in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, 2) a wheelchair with four-wheel drive and four-wheel steering, and lastly, of course, parts of 3) a vacuum cleaner.

Dyson left Rotork in 1974, apparently on amicable terms, and set up Dyson.

Sir James Dyson, 2012, Wikimedia Commons

Again, according to The Independent article linked above, “Dyson credits Fry as his mentor and acknowledges his influence as a designer and an engineer.”

Alas, Dyson hasn’t yet invented any chocolate tempering or cocoa roasting machines… maybe one day! Wouldn’t that be neat? But thanks to mentorship from Jeremy Fry, the heir of a chocolate fortune, we’ve all come to know of some amazing household inventions from Sir James Dyson 🙂

We hear that Sir Dyson just authored a new book titled “Invention: A Life.” Are you curious to learn more about the Fry family? Comment below!

Have a great weekend.

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