Archive for the ‘History’ Category

In 1953 an Air Force radio squadron operator was the first American to receive word that Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had died. The operator’s name? Johnny Cash.

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Although children had been servants and apprentices throughout most of history, child labor reached new extremes during the Industrial Revolution. Children often worked long hours in dangerous factory conditions for very little money. Children were useful as laborers because their size allowed them to move in small spaces in factories or mines where adults couldn’t fit, children were easier to manage and control and perhaps most importantly, children could be paid less than adults. Appalling but true.

Not-So-Fun-Fact: In 1900, 18% of all American workers were under the age of 16.

In 1908 a true American hero named Lewis Hine picked up his camera and became the photographer for the National Child Labor Committee. For 10-years Lewis traveled across the country documenting child labor despite constant threats from factory owners. At the time the owners wanted to keep the immorality of child labor away from the public’s eye. However, Hine kept it up and never wavered. Sometimes he wore disguises (such as a fire inspector or a bible salesman) to snap pictures and interview the children working at factories or in the streets.  Lewis Hine used his camera as a tool for social commentary and reform, and it worked. Risking his own safety Hine snapped thousands of photographs with one goal – to end child labor. It took years, but in 1938 the Fair Labor Standards Act set national minimum wage and maximum hour standards for workers in interstate commerce and also placed limitations on child labor. Bottom line, next time one of your kids complain about taking out the garbage or mowing the lawn show them these photos. Wild to look at today, but an important to know and remember.

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What follows are the first few words of The Crisis, Thomas Paine’s first article in a series of articles called The American Crisis. These words helped galvanize our country in its battle for independence from Britain at a time when our situation was looking extremely bleak. These words still ring true today, nearly 242-years later . . .

December 23, 1776

These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly . . .

Amazing, powerful words indeed. A couple days later, on the evening of December 25th and morning of the 26th, George Washington turned around after having been pursued by the British Army for weeks. He crossed the Delaware, attacked the dreaded Hessians, won a stunning victory, and ignited a fire of hope within the American cause. The rest, as they say, is history.

This has made the internet rounds the last couple years and is a legitimate photograph of a turn-of-the-century Texas playground. It can be viewed on the web page of the Dallas Public Library with a description noting that it captures “Children playing on iron pole playground equipment at Trinity Play Park.” 

Sometimes when you’re way behind, everything in your body is telling you to quit. Here are 5 people who didn’t.

“From the depths of hell!”

From 5th to 1st in the last lap.

Ohio University’s Dave Wottle wins Olympic Gold in the 800-meter run.

And finally, the legendary comeback by the USA’s Billy Mills. “Look Mills! Look at Mills! LOOM AT MILLS!”

Admit it. You think of Labor Day as a 3-day vacation, right? That long weekend that signifies the end of summer? Don’t feel too badly, we all do. But there is a reason we have the day off, you know. I’m sure most of us understand that the holiday has something to do with the American worker, but few know how it actually came into existence.

The truth is that the holiday came from a time when businesses were bullying workers and our government wasn’t doing much to stop it. It all started with a really bad recession in the late 1800s that reduced demand for railway cars. This prompted Chicago railway gazillionaire George Pullman to lay off workers and/or cut back pay. Not good, especially at a time when folks were struggling to get by anyway. That said, it was a business decision. Anyway, because of this a bunch of his workers went on strike. The American Railway Union, who was obviously on the worker’s side, refused to handle Pullman cars which put a real damper on commerce in many parts of the country.

Bottom line, the whole situation pissed off the workers everywhere, who were finally fed up with the treatment they’d been receiving from industry owners who usually lived in some distant city and gave the impression they gave less than a damn about them.

Because of all this, Pullman workers started a strike in May 1894. They quit showing up for work, demanding better working conditions, better wages, and most importantly an 8-hour work day.

This caused quite an uproar in Congress, and as a nod of appreciation for the American worker they passed legislation making the first Monday of every September a day to recognize them. Woohoo! That’ll settle those rascals down! They politicians were basically giving to pat to the American worker’s head and telling him/her to take a day off once a year and relax, we’ll all salute you and it’ll all be fine.

It didn’t work. The workers kept striking.

In July, President Grover Cleveland sent the goddamn United States Army to Chicago to crush the strikers.

This just pissed the workers off even more, and within a day of the troops’ arrival angry mobs started tipping railroad cars and setting them on fire. Soldiers cracked down with bayonets and bullets but the rioting and property destruction worsened. Dozens of people ultimately died in Chicago and in other parts of the country. The government restored order by the fall, but Union leader Eugene Debs was eventually convicted of defying a court order and sent to prison.

I checked out the U.S. Department of Labor’s page on the history of Labor Day, and it says the holiday “is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.”

It doesn’t mention the Pullman strike, workers dying or any labor problems at all.

The fact is that throughout American history our workers have had to fight to get better pay and shorter hours. Evenings and weekends weren’t just handed over by lawmakers and kind-hearted business owners. People died for your 8-hour work day.

So, Labor Day is much more than part of a 3-day weekend at the end of summer. It’s a day where we should all stop for a minute to reflect on the American worker who fought and died for decent hours and fairer wages, the men and women who made working in America better for all of us.

On the day the Declaration of Independence was signed, John Adams penned a letter to his wife. It read in part:

 “This day ought to be commemorated as the Day of Deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore.”

His wife didn’t know it at the time, but her husband John Adams had just predicted Independence Day, often called the 4th of July, in the United States of America.

John Adams had been calling for independence for years, long before most of the delegates. Bad. Ass.

And nobody wants their gourd blown, amirite? Wait. Maybe they do. Anyway, there are certain historical facts, usually involving when events occurred, that are a tad mind-blowing and really mess with your perception of time. Check ’em out:

John Tyler, America’s 10th president, was born in 1790. He has 2 living grandchildren.

John Tyler was 63 when his son Lyon was born in 1853. Lyon was 71 when Lyon Jr. was born in 1924, and 75 when son Harrison was born in 1928. Both sons are still alive. Incredible.

Wooly Mammoths were still alive when the Egyptians built the pyramids.

Yep. From 2630 BC–2611 BC.

Oxford University in England existed hundreds of years before the Aztec Empire existed in what is now Mexico.

The Aztec Empire existed from 1428 to 1521, when Cortez showed up to ruin the party. There was evidence of teaching at Oxford University in freakin’ 1096.

George Washington died in 1799. The first dinosaur fossil was found in 1824. George Washington never knew dinosaurs existed.

*Not an actual photo.

Anne Frank, Martin Luther King and Barbara Walters were all born in 1929.

When the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, the Spanish had already been living in what is now New Mexico for 100-years. 

They began building the Palace of the Governors in 1610 and it was a thriving settlement by 1620, when the pilgrims sailed in. You might mention that the next time you hear somebody say “Speak English!”

The first McDonald’s was founded 3-years before the first prisoners were brought to Auschwitz.

Yep. The McDonald brothers opened their first restaurant adjacent to the Monrovia Airport in California in 1937. Auschwitz admitted its first prisoners in 1940.

Adolf Hitler and Charlie Chaplin were born the same year, and Charlie had the mustache first.

Charlie also played Hitler in a movie called “The Great Dictator” in 1940.

The Colosseum in Rome was built in 80 AD, the same time the Gospel of Luke and the Acts Of The Apostles were written.

We’re not 100% certain of when those gospels were written, but it’s very close.

The Brooklyn Bridge was being built during the Battle of Little Big Horn.

And the bridge is still in use today. More than 125,000 vehicles, 4,000 pedestrians and 3,100 cyclists cross the Brooklyn Bridge every single day. And to think that workers were building it the same day as Custer’s Last Stand.

So, gourd blown? No? Damn it. Mine was. Of course, I’m a little weird when it comes to history. Seriously man, John Tyler has two living grandchildren? That’s just cray-cray.

Have a great rest of the weekend.

On June 11th, 1776, Thomas Jefferson was asked to articulate the thoughts of the American delegates in a written document. If the congress is to vote for independence on July 1st, this “declaration” will explain the decision to the world. It was noted badass John Adams who recommended that Jefferson write it.

Thomas Jefferson was shocked. “Why me?” he asked. “Reason first,” Adams replied. “You are a Virginian, and a Virginian ought to appear at the head of this business. Reason second, I am obnoxious, suspected, and very unpopular. You are very much otherwise. Reason third, you write ten times better than I do.” Jefferson responded, “Well, if you are decided I will do as well as I can.”

At that point Thomas Jefferson went to his rented Philadelphia house, sat down, and began to carefully write the 1,337 words that would change the course of world history. After just a little input from a few other delegates, the “Declaration of Independence” was born.

Included in the second paragraph were the most earth-shattering, amazing words ever written for its time – “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

That’s right. ALL MEN. And although no country in the world believed the tiny American colonies could defeat the most powerful army in the world, that’s exactly what they did.

1990 is closer to the JFK Assassination than it is to today.

During the 1950s, the United States carried out atomic tests in the Nevada desert just 65-miles away from Las Vegas. Here a group of people enjoying a warm summer day at a Vegas hotel can actually see a mushroom cloud forming in the distance. Weird, yet chilling at the same time.

Bet you thought the thong was a relatively modern invention, amirite? Negatory, my friends. In fact, the modern thong is a surprisingly old innovation that Greenlandic Inuits have been rocking for several hundred years.
Called a Naatsit, it’s made of seal fur, chosen for its durability and insulation. And get this kids – it’s stitched together with reindeer or whale sinews and was made fashionable with decorative beads or the head of the seal. You heard me, right? The head of a freakin’ seal. Fun Fact: When the Danish missionaries showed up they tried to get the Inuits to wear something less revealing. Didn’t work.

Narrowed down from about 50. Did you own any of these? Chances are you did not.  Anywho, feel free to bask in other people’s catastrophic failures . . .

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I hate this guy.

Have you heard of Michael Sparks? No? He’s a guy who walked into a thrift store back in 2006, made a really cheap purchase, and soon discovered he’d found the mother of all finds. But first let us regress a couple years . . .

In the early 00s a Tennessean named Stan Caffy had been asked by his wife to clean out the garage and ditch all the junk he’d acquired through the years. He complied, and reluctantly took an old copy of the Declaration of Independence off his garage wall and donated it, along with other odds and ends, to a local thrift store. Caffy had bought the copy for $10 at a yard sale 10-years prior. Keep that in mind.

Soon thereafter, another Tennessean named Michael Sparks strolled into the same thrift store (the Music City Thrift Store in Nashville), a normal part of his weekly agenda. He picked up a candelabra, a set of salt and pepper shakers and that old copy of the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

He paid $2.48 for it.

I’ve seen Declarations of Independence in thrift stores before,” said Sparks. “This one was so beautiful I thought it was an engraving. I look for things that have quality to them. I decided to look into it further.”

Yep, what you are thinking is true. The copy happened to be one that John Quincy Adams commissioned William Stone to make in 1820. Stone finished printing just 200 copies in 1823. Only 35 of these documents were known to exist until Michael Sparks purchased number 36 at a freakin’ thrift store in Nashville, Tennessee for $2.48.

Read that again. Michael Sparks purchased one of the original copies of the Declaration of Independence for $2.48.

But wait, there’s more.

Although the original appraisal was for over $200,000, Sparks sold the artifact to a Utah investment firm for $477,650.00.

You read that right. $477,650.00.

Listen, I’m no math wizard, but I believe that’s a profit of $477,647.52 minus the auction house’s take and whatnot. Unbelievable.

And if Stan Caffy wasn’t feeling badly enough for giving away nearly half a million bucks, Michael Sparks left him with this zinger:

“I guess it just doesn’t pay to keep a clean house.”

Ouch. Unnecessary, Mike. Unnecessary.

George Washington died in 1799. The first dinosaur fossil was discovered in 1824. George Washington never knew dinosaurs existed.

Well, some of you. If you’re under 30 perhaps not. Anyway, many of us older folk can remember the way old supermarkets looked, as well as the old country, small town stores. What follows is a look back at a simpler time, 20 photographs along with my comments. Point, click and scroll. Do it man.

Sure, put a ship nearby. What could go wrong? Wahoo and Umbrella were code names for two underwater tests conducted in 1958. Wahoo was conducted on May 16, 1958 and Umbrella was conducted on June 8, 1958. Pat Bradley, the cameraman who photographed these events recounts his first hand experience of seeing these tests and being on the island as the tests took place. Crazy stuff.

While perusing the worldwide interweb late last night I stumbled across this little mind-blowing nugget. The pilot episode of a TV series called The Lone Gunmen, broadcast on March 4th, 2001, featured a plot to hijack a plane and fly it into the World Trade Center. That, my friends, is chilling. Watch and try not to feel all freaky and whatnot:

Aaaand, speaking of predictions . . .

Cool.

 

I came across a pretty fascinating story the other day from the late 1920s, and it involved . . . wait for it . . . floating airports. But let’s start at the beginning . . .

Back in 1927, there was a cat named Charles Lindbergh who was the first to sail across the Atlantic Ocean all by his lonesome. You may have heard of him. Anywho, before this accomplishment nobody had ever even thought about traveling overseas with an airplane as a means of transportation. However, after Lindbergh’s flight folks started seeing things a little differently. One of these people was an inventor by the name of Edward Armstrong.

First, you should know that when Lindbergh made his flight in the Spirit of St. Louis, over half its take-off weight was gasoline. It was essential that you turn your plane into a flying gas tank in order to have enough fuel to make it.

Note: When Burt Rutan’s airplane Voyager circled the world nonstop in 1986, its takeoff weight was eighty percent fuel.

Anyway, because of the whole weight and distance problem it was thought that crossing the Atlantic wouldn’t be feasible. Then along came Armstrong, who actually had a plan in the works years before Lindbergh’s flight.

Here’s the deal – Armstrong planned to build floating airports, called seadromes, across the Atlantic. A seadrome was to weigh fifty-thousand tons and have an 1,100-foot-long deck. Its flotation system would extend about 180-feet into the water. To hold it in place, Armstrong went to John A. Roebling and Sons. Roebling had invented wound-steel cable, and his company had built the Brooklyn Bridge 40-years earlier. Now they designed a deep-water anchoring system for Armstrong.

And get this – each seadrome would include a 40-room hotel, café, lounge, bar, and other cool stuff.

Finally, on October 22nd, 1929, the New York Times announced that construction of the first seadrome would begin within 60-days. This was actually happening, man. People were pumped.

Alas, seven days later on what we now call Black Tuesday the stock market crashed, the Great Depression was upon us, and Armstrong’s grand scheme went to hell.

Of course, the advancement in technology regarding airplanes rendered all this meaningless anyway within a few years and Armstrong’s plan of floating airports vanished in the mists of time.

PS- The Japanese actually built a 1-kilometer-long floating airport in 1999. They called it Megafloat. That’s cool, man.

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Japanese Megafloat.

Henry Ford is the only American mentioned favorably in Adolf Hitler’s semi-autobiographical book “Mein Kampf.” In 1931, Adolf Hitler called Ford an “inspiration.”

 

It was a different time. In many ways better, in some ways not.

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Know what I’m talkin’ ’bout, Willis? Yeah, I’m referring to WWI airplane technology, and it was wild stuff. Read on . . .

See, during WWI (also known as The War to End All Wars, wishful thinking at its finest), airplanes were still a very new technology. Planes that could fly for extended periods of time were only a few years old, and people were still trying to figure out how they would work in combat.

One of the most logical steps was to add a big gun to the front of a plane so it could shoot down other planes and kill people and whatnot. Machine guns were a logical complement to aircraft, but there was one problem –  how to stop the bullets from hitting that big propeller in the front? Early propellers were made of wood, man, and one mistake and you’d be shooting your own self right out of the damn sky.

Anyway, machine guns were mounted on the top of the fuselage, directly in front of the pilot, but that position placed the gun directly behind the propeller. The gun had to be designed to fire through the propeller without hitting it, which basically sounds insane considering how fast the propeller was spinning. Well, being the innovative folks that we were, we sure enough did it.

What we invented was something called synchronization gear, which restricted the machine gun so it could only fire in between the propellers. It involved an irregular-shaped disk that triggers the gun to fire once per revolution, at a specific point. This produces a high rate of fire without the risk of hitting the propeller. Diabolical, man.

Anyway, check out the cool slow-mo video below to see this in action. Just remember that the propeller was moving infinitely faster while in flight. Amazing really.

People seem to think of school tragedies as relatively recent events. And although they do seem to be getting more deadly and more frequent, the fact is school shootings go back as far as the 1760s. Most were isolated events though, and not pre-planned attacks aimed at killing large numbers of people. You can check this link to see how often it’s happened, and it might surprise you.

I think the first time I was ever really aware that something like this could even happen was back in 1979 when Bob Geldof wrote the song “I Don’t Like Mondays” for his band The Boomtown Rats. The song was about Brenda Spencer, a 16-year old girl who lived across the street from Cleveland Elementary School in California. She opened fire on the school and killed a principal and a custodian. She also injured eight children and a police officer. As she was still in the house and before the police busted in to arrest her, a reporter called her and asked her why she was doing this. Her response was “I don’t like Mondays. This livens up the day.” Geldof read about this, wrote the song, and it went straight to #1. Here’s the weird, chilling video if you’d like a look:

I have a vague recollection of Charles Whitman and the University of Texas tower shootings as a kid, and I’ve since read a book about it as well. Still, the more recent attacks at Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, and of course the latest at Parkland are the events mentioned whenever people talk about school tragedies. However, there’s one horrific event that rarely gets mentioned among the others, and although guns weren’t involved it remains the oldest and deadliest school massacre in U.S. history – the bombing of Bath Consolidated School in Bath, Michigan.

The year was 1927.

Andrew Kehoe was a seemingly regular guy who resided in Bath. He graduated from Michigan State and was a part-time treasurer at his local school. He also farmed and was a member of the Bath school board. As far as anyone knew he was happily married and living a contented life.

They were wrong.

What a lot of folks around Bath didn’t know was that the bank had foreclosed on Andrew Kehoe’s farm, and he blamed local taxes that had recently been put in place to build the new school. In addition, his wife had been sick. Little did anyone know that Andrew Kehoe was about to snap, and he was going to take out his anger on the new Bath School and its inhabitants, 250 students in grades kindergarten through 12th.

Bath School, before the bombing.

In the days leading up to May 18th, Kehoe stacked about 500 pounds of explosives in the school’s basement. Because he did odd jobs around the school he had unlimited access. The dynamite was to be detonated by a timer at 8:45am.

As fate would have it, only some of the explosives went off. Amid the chaos and minutes after the blast, Kehoe drove up to the school and got out of his car. Nobody is sure exactly how he knew Kehoe was involved, but Principal Emory Huyck ran over to him. Kehoe saw Huyck coming, then grabbed his gun and fired it into his trunk, setting off explosives he’d placed there. That blast killed him, Mr. Huyck and an innocent person standing nearby.

All told, 44 people were massacred that morning, 38 of them children between the ages of 6 and 8. Another 58 were injured. Had the other explosives detonated, the toll could have been upwards of 250.

Later, authorities found that Kehoe had murdered his wife in the days leading up to the massacre.

Why has this incident been lost over time? One reason is that Andrew Kehoe died that day, so the case was over with no trial. Another is that shortly after the bombing, Charles Lindbergh made the first flight across the Atlantic and that news dominated the newspapers for months.

Nobody knows exactly why, but although it remains our nation’s worst ever school attack, Andrew Kehoe and the Bath School Bombing has been largely forgotten.

Sometimes people just stumble into cool idea, ya know? For instance, some dude named Percy Spencer was experimenting with a new vacuum tube called a magnetron while doing research for the Raytheon Corporation in 1945. During one experiment the candy bar in his pocket began to melt. Boom! The microwave was invented.*

*Fun Fact: The first microwave oven was called a Radarange, and it weighed 750 pounds, was 5 1/2 feet tall and cost about $5,000. That’s wild.

Anyway, other stuff like x-rays, artificial sweeteners and even penicillin were invented by mistake. Seriously, look it up. I wouldn’t like to ya. But on to the point of this blog, and that is what foods were invented by accident. Let’s do the thang . . .

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Yep, the delicious goodness called Chocolate Chip Cookies were a mistake. It happened in the 1930s when a restaurant owner named Ruth Wakefield added pieces of chocolate to her cookie mix, hoping the fragments would melt and turn the batter into a chocolate brown. The chips remained solid, however, people loved them, and the chocolate chip cookie was born. And thank God for that, right?

Note: My niece Sasha can cram more chocolate chips into a chocolate chip cookie than any human being on earth. That’s a fact.

POPSICLES

The popsicle was invented by an enterprising 11-year-old kid named Frank Epperson in 1905. You see, young Frank left a glass of soda on his San Francisco front porch by accident one night with a stirring stick still it. The next day, after a chilly night, the drink had frozen. Frank pulled the stick out and, to his surprise, the drink came with it. He went ahead and licked it and found it to be quite tasty. That fateful morning stuck with him, and years later, when he was 20, he patented them as Popsicles.

POTATO CHIPS

In 1853 there was a chef named George Crum at Moon Lake House Restaurant in Saratoga Springs, New York. After a customer sent back a batch of fried potatoes complaining that they were not thin enough, Chef Crum got pissed. He sliced the next batch of potatoes as thinly as he possibly could, fried and salted them, and sent them back out to the complainer. That’ll teach him! However, to George’s amazement the customer loved them, and soon the word of these crunchy fried potatoes spread across the region. The Potato Chip was born.

WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE

First off, this has to be the most widely mispronounced word in the English language, amirite? People always say Worchester Sauce when it’s really Worcestershire sauce, damn it. Anywho, it was invented by the British chemists John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins in the 19th century. The pair were asked to create a tangy sauce for a client who liked Indian cuisine, but the product they created was so strong it was inedible. So, they put it away for a few years. Alas, when they pulled it off the shelf a few years later and tried it again they were stunned to find it was now perfect. Viola!

THE SANDWICH

Wait. What? ‘Tis true! The sandwich is named after John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich. It’s said that the Earl, who was quite the gambler, ordered his servant to bring him meat held between two pieces of bread so that he didn’t have to stop to eat a proper meal. Hence, the sandwich!

Note: This story is widely disputed. Still, I like it so I choose to believe it.

NACHOS

Ah, nachos. So good. But here’s how they came to be. Ignacio Nacho Anaya was a maître d’ at a restaurant called the Victory Club in Piedras Negras, Mexico. One day in 1943, a group of ten military wives crossed the border from Fort Duncan Army base and demanded some grub. Unable to track down the chef and faced with the ten hungry ladies, Anaya decided to improvise—he covered a plate of tostadas with grated cheese, passed it through a salamander (a broiling unit that heats food from above), and topped the whole thing off with jalapeños. Of course the women loved it, and one of the women dubbed the dish “Nacho’s Special”, which was later shortened to just “Nachos” when Anaya took the dish to his own place—Nacho’s Restaurant.

BEER

We’re pretty sure the Mesopotamians invented the delicious Barley Pop about 10,00 years ago. What happened, you ask? See, when Mesopotamians began storing grains for bread, their storage spaces occasionally became damp which caused the grains to ferment. This fermentation process resulted in a liquid that was the earliest beer. Some lucky Mesopotamian sampled the strange liquid, got a buzz, and the rest is history. On a related note, three years later the first beer gut was spotted.

HOT & SPICY CHICKEN

Hot & Spicy Chicken was invented in Nashville, and its origins are at the world famous Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack. Restaurant lore traces the recipe back to current owner Andre Jeffries’ great-uncle Thornton Prince, an infamous womanizer. When she thought he was cheating, one of his jealous lover’s fed him extra-spicy chicken out of vengeance. Problem was, Thornton liked it so much that he began cooking it at his restaurant. Crazy but true.

COKE

Coke was invented in 1886 by a guy named John Pemberton. Pemberton was a wounded veteran who had become addicted to morphine, so he tried to create a replacement to stave off his addiction. Through some messing around in his pharmacy, he created a tonic that eventually became the original Coca Cola formula. As you may have heard, it contained small amounts of cocaine as well as the caffeine-rich kola nut. Let’s just say the original Coke could give you quite the high. Anyway, in 1887, another Atlanta pharmacist, Asa Candler, bought the formula for Coca Cola from Pemberton for $2,300. By the late 1890s, Coca Cola was one of America’s most popular fountain drinks.

CHEESE PUFFS

Here’s what happened. The Flakall Company up in Wisconsin invented a machine that crushed grains for animal feed without hulls and grain dust. A bro named Edward Wilson noticed that workers poured moistened corn kernels into the machine to reduce clogging. The machine got so hot that the moist cornmeal came out in puffy ribbons, hardening as it hit the air and fell to the ground. Wilson took the ribbons home, added oil and seasoning, and made the first cheese curls. Genius!

ICE CREAM CONES

At the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, an ice-cream vendor had run out of bowls. Back then that’s how everyone ate ice cream, from a bowl. Earnest Hamwi, a neighboring concessionaire, rolled the waffle-like pastries he was selling (they were called Zalabis) into a cone so his neighbor’s ice cream could be held inside, just to lend a friend a hand. People loved it, and the Ice Cream Cone was born.

SLURPEES

Omar Knedlik, owner of a Dairy Queen franchise in Kentucky, had a fountain machine that kept breaking down, so he had to store his sodas in the freezer, sometimes for too long. His customers didn’t mind, though. In fact, they kept on ordering “those pops that were in the freezer a little bit longer.” Realizing that his disaster had turned into an opportunity, Knedlik built a new machine to deliberately produce that strange, frozen drink that everyone loved. Later, the ICEE dispenser was bought by more than 300 companies before 7-Eleven licensed it in 1965 and renamed the drink “Slurpees.”

And there ya have it, cool foods that were created entirely by accident? Cool, right?