(2) Benjamin Franklin
Possibly the first great American genius, Franklin was many things. Statesman. Diplomat. Almanac writer. Bifocal inventor. Ill-timed flyer of kites. Glass harmonica maker. Signer of the Declaration of Independence. Lover of turkeys. In all of them, though, he showed an undeniable genius.
(15) Pat and Harry Olivieri
Some geniuses remain relatively anonymous even as their creations thrive. The Oliviers are among them. In 1930, the brothers were just normal hot dog vendors in Philadelphia. One day, though, they threw some steak and a few onions on their grill, slapped it on a roll and sold it for a dime. Thus, the Philly steak sandwich was born. Cheese came later, perfecting the artery-clogging goodness of the cheesesteak at the brothers' Philly landmark shop, Pat's King of Steaks. The Olivieris may not be the sort of innovators you learned about in school, but anyone who's ever walked into a diner hungry and left pleasantly sated with meat, cheese, and grease can attest to their brilliance.
Things could get ugly in this battle for the City of Brotherly Love. The only way Philadelphians would feel more conflicted about this choice is if we managed to throw Mike Schmidt in there, too. Who's Philly's bigger genius: the man who helped start the nation, or the brothers who helped grow its waistline?
[See the whole bracket here.]