The Demon Barber of Flottenstrasse
Electric shaving is no longer cool. In fact, shaving in general will soon be a thing of the past, due to its total lack of coolness. The real man of today can no longer be taken seriously without a serious manbeard. And don’t think this is just a fad that will blow over in a couple of years, like the male ponytail, mullet or goatee. This is an irreversible trend that will bankrupt all razor and shaver manufacturers that fail to switch to beard trimmers.
So if ever there was a time to document the possibly true history of the electric shaver, it is now -before it’s forgotten altogether.
Secondly, his Elektrorasierapparat was so utterly dangerous that no one in his right mind would even come near it. That’s why Kaninchenfutter used mental patients for his first and only demonstration, at the World Fair of 1900 in Paris. The demonstration ended in a bloodbath, with all three test subjects lethally mutilated beyond recognition. Germany was subsequently banned from future World Fairs, which led to the great social unrest that led to the Great War. Apparently, Kaninchenfutter’s idea to mount two or four (for balance; that part was smart) straight razors on an electric motor, perpendicular to its axis, was not a very good idea.
It would take another 29 years before anyone dared make a second attempt at creating an electric shaver. And once again it was that humble company from Eindhoven, The Netherlands, that came through: Philips.* Their Philishave was the very first safe electric shaver (and the second electric shaver overall) and it took the world by storm. But there was a flipside to this roaring success at the end of the Roaring Twenties: within a year, 97% of all barbershops in nations with electricity went bankrupt, which as we all know led to great social unrest as well as the Great Depression, which resulted in World War II.
Kaninchenfutter died a pauper and a pariah in January 1902, after his barbershop went belly up. Killing mental patients wasn’t exactly illegal, but certainly frowned upon back then. Ironically, two years after his death his ludicrous idea was picked up by various inventors and aviation pioneers and soon led to the invention of the helicopter. Which goes to show that even the worst ideas can be great.
*The internet attributes the first electric shaver to American manufacturer Jacob Schick, who patented his product in 1930. But since the internet is controlled by the American shaving lobby, serious historians don’t put much stock in internet claims.