All the joy without the germs


This week Richmond resident Jake Apelt turns 12 and it’s a birthday he probably won’t forget.

That’s because his father spent the last year inventing a device that could change the way Americans celebrate.

The tradition of blowing out birthday candles dates back to ancient Greece, but Mark Apelt believes it’s time for a change.

“How is it possible that it’s always a thing – that we still blow on a cake or even spit on a cake sometimes by accident and then serve it to all of our friends and family?” he’s asking himself.

To keep the joy germ free, the retired Richmond science teacher contacted the internet.

“You can find people all over the world to help design things,” Apelt marvels. “We mainly worked with a guy from Michigan who was a retired engineer from one of the automakers. ”

What they came up with is a device that looks like a flautophone with a propeller that generates a breeze to put out the candles.

“You blow into the opening,” he explains. Your breath activates a small pressure switch that activates a battery and motor and spins the fan, then the air you blow into it – rather than coming out through the cake – is redirected back to you.

It’s called a Blowzee, it costs $ 9.99, and thanks to extensive media coverage, Apelt has sold around five thousand of them. He thinks it could pay for Jake’s college education – and Jake will never forget the experience of product development. For about six months, family members had all the cake they could eat.

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