Like many great inventors, Lloyd Copeman didn't limit the scope of his imagination when he was living at 1416 Calumet off East Court in Flint. He is credited with inventing a self-extinguishing cigarette, an early form of the microwave oven, and the first electric stove. Along the way he revolutionized how we make toast and patented dozens of other ideas.
Copeman's best loved invention may be the flexible rubber ice cube tray, which earned him $500,000 in the late twenties.
"Copeman had been gathering sap 'just for the fun of it,' and slush collected and gradually froze on his boots," Anita K. Clever wrote in a 1954 Popular Mechanics profile. "When he returned from the jaunt he sat down and dreamily regarded his footwear, an act of contemplation, which lead to the ice-cube-tray idea. It was one of the many to be conceived by Copeman which would ease the daily burdens of the house-wife and others."
Copeman brought a touch of class to a familiar Flint pastime — drinking — with this beer chiller. A center cylinder filled with dry ice released carbonic gas through the beer.
Copeman, who once admitted that “some of my neighbors are certain I’m balmy," was fond of using family members to refine his inventions.
"After buying his wife a new car for Christmas, Copeman proceeded to cover the exterior with a coating of rubber latex, cutting the latex out of the windows," writes Marsha J. Davenport. "For the life of that car, it went everywhere with the mud colored coating of latex. Perhaps it was due to the unseemly appearance the latex lent to the automobile that the process never received a patent, but for whatever reason, this was one of Copeman’s inventive ideas whose time had not yet come, due perhaps to inadequate technology."
Copeman knew Edison, Ford, C.S. Mott and J.D. Dort, but his granddaughter is also a household name — Linda Ronstadt.