Ever since the invention of angels, wearing things on one’s head has been a solid way of defining who one is in the overall scheme of things. Angels were invented, of course, by the Greek God Apollo, soon after Zeus and the other Olympians created the idea of a single “God” so that they could take some much needed vacations. Apollo thought he could use some helpers (flying ones at that) and to differentiate them from other winged people, he decided to give them glowing things on their heads.
Yet even with depictions of haloed angels all around us, hats weren’t invented until one spring morning in 1542 in Venice, Italy by none other than Napoleon I. He was sitting in a bakery pondering how and when to try to take over the world, all the while absent-mindedly drawing a stick figure on a piece of paper and drinking his coffee. When at one point he lifted the coffee cup, he looked down and there was a ring of coffee atop the stick figure’s head, and the sheer possibilities of hats overtook him. He jumped up and darted outside to his carefully hidden time machine, which he’d stolen from a couple of teenagers from the future who weren’t all that bright, picked up the receiver and dialed the number for the earliest time he could find in the phone book.
There wasn’t much to speak of when he arrived at the earliest time, but there were plenty of Jewish people, whom he took a liking to and decided to help by creating Yamakas, which became the first hats. Then Napoleon left the beginnings of time and time-hopped forward, watching the evolution of hats throughout the centuries until he found what he believed to be the hat that would ultimately bring the world to his knees. He discovered the hat in the hands of an ancient order of Egyptian hat-smiths who had migrated down to the southernmost regions of Africa in the twelfth century to work on their craft away from the eyes of the world.
While Napoleon ended up exiled to some island without ruling the world and without his time machine (which got blasted apart by cannon fire), still his drive and utter passion to realize his vision lives on within the legacy he’s left with us, a legacy we can proudly put on our heads to keep warm, or to keep the rain off, or to complete a smart outfit, and for this he will always be remembered in our hearts.