Whenever I think about an inventor getting fucked over by selling his business too early I think of the Victoria Secret parable in "The Social Network". The guy jumped off the Golden Gate bridge because he walked away with $4M instead of like the $500M he could've had if he held out a little longer or retained some shares. That is a tough break. One he made with his own free will though. Tragic end to man's story while the business's story is still being written as one of the most recognizable brands on the planet for women and horny dudes everywhere.
That story is NOTHING compared to my guy Frank Epperson though. Nobody even knows his name. This man invented popsicles and the means to freeze them in large quantities and he walked away with $50,000. There are two BILLION popsicles sold every year. The ice cream/frozen dessert industry generates $4.6B annually. This poor fuck walked away with $700k in today's money in exchange for his life's work
This poor fuck, Frank, invented popsicles when he was 11 years-old. He worked and worked and walked away from a career while trying to support his family and made popsicles a national brand and iconic treat. Literally every person in America in the last 100 years has had a popsicle. This is what happens when you get in bed with people who ain't loyal. The Good Humor guy was going around suing anyone with ice cream on a stick and he set his sights on Epperson and Popsicle and rather than go to court to stand up for their inventor, Epperson's partners stabbed him in back and he was forced to sell his shares of the company for $50K. 50 grand and he just lived out his days trying to come up with another once in a lifetime idea. The man lived to be 99 years old. Died in 1983. Which means that every time he turned on the tv. Every time he went to the beach. Every time he walked outside or to the grocery store there was a reminder that he got absolutely FUCKED on this deal as the word and product he and his kids invented were just rubbed in his face as he sat around with his thumb in his ass. That has to be a MISERABLE experience. The other scene in "The Social Network" that always sticks out to me is when Zuckerberg says "if you invented facebook you would've invented facebook" which was a kill shot to the Harvard Connection dinks across the table. Well the "pop" in popsicle is literally named after Frank Epperson. There's no mental gymnastics he or anyone else can do to separate him from his invention. That would drive me INSANE.
He did everything for that business and the entire industry pretty much. Fascinating story. You can listen to the entire thing here on youtube