Weekly Wrap Volume 60

This is a weekly wrap of our Daily Knowledge Newsletter. You can get that newsletter for free here.

McDonaldsWho is McDonald in McDonald’s Restaurant

McDonald’s is, without question, the most successful, popular, and influential fast-food restaurant chain in recorded history. The name most commonly associated with McDonald’s is Ray Kroc.  Kroc was the entrepreneur who founded the McDonald’s corporation.  So how did it come to be named “McDonald’s”? You see, contrary to what you’ll often read, to suggest Kroc created McDonald’s is, well, a crock. As is sometimes the case with amazingly successful businesses, the early part of the McDonald’s story includes the people who came up with the ideas and created the thing, and the person who figured out how to sell the idea to the rest of the world. Ray Kroc was most definitely in the latter camp, essentially, the Steve Jobs… (more)

Sailor Arnold R Fesser in 1944The Surprisingly Recent Invention of the T-Shirt

The t-shirt is arguably the most popular outer garment in the entire world. Coming in a range of styles, colors and sizes there is quite literally a t-shirt for everyone. But where did this iconic garment come from and how did it become so popular? Relatively speaking, the t-shirt is a fairly new addition to our collective wardrobes and it has only been an acceptable piece of clothing in its own right for around half a century. While the garment itself has existed in a recognisable form (albeit with wider necks and shorter sleeves) since the early 20th century, it was almost universally considered to be underwear and it was rarely, if ever worn in public. So where did the t-shirt come from? It’s… (more)

the_beatles_yesterdayPaul McCartney’s “Scrambled Eggs,” which Evolved Into One of the Most Recorded Songs of All Time

“I reckon ‘Yesterday’ is probably my best song. I like it not only because it was a big success, but because it was one of the most instinctive songs I’ve ever written. I was so proud of it. I felt it was an original tune- the most complete thing I’ve ever written. It’s very catchy without being sickly”- Paul McCartney. “Yesterday”, written entirely (or almost entirely– read on) by Paul McCartney, is either the most, or second most, recorded song of all-time. (Guinness World Records claimed it was the most, but this has been contested with others claiming George Gershwin’s 1935 “Summertime” is the true owner of that mantle.) Whatever the case, to date, at least 4,000 different versions of the classic “Beatles” tune have been recorded by artists as diverse as Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Liberace, Tammy Wynette, Daffy Duck (!), The Mamas and the Papas, Marvin Gaye, Ray Charles and Placido Domingo. In the mid-sixties, long before “Yesterday”… (more)

depressed-animalAre There Any Animals Other Than Humans That Commit Suicide?

Animal suicide is a hugely controversial issue in the world of animal research and psychology, because although there are numerous documented instances of animals seemingly intentionally ending their own lives, no one is exactly sure whether these cases can technically be classified as suicide. First things first, because we’re sticklers for factual information, we feel like we have to point out that the most famous “suicidal” animal of all, lemmings, do not actually throw themselves off of cliffs when they migrate. As we’ve already mentioned before, no one is exactly sure where the myth originated from, but we can thank Disney for making it “common knowledge” when they used a turntable to… (more)

Future President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1884The Surprisingly Recent Time Period When Boys Wore Pink, Girls Wore Blue, and Both Wore Dresses

If we were to play a word association game where I said a word and you had to yell out the first color that came to mind, it would probably go something like this: Banana- Yellow; Apple- Red; Boy- Blue; Girl- Pink. We can all understand why yellow and red are associated with bananas and apples, but boys are not blue and girls are not pink. So why are these colors so very much associated with these genders? Gender identification by color began in the early 20th century in the Western world. Before this, pink and blue did not hold any gender specific connotations and there are numerous examples of men wearing pink outfits and girls wearing blue; one French author, Xavier de Maistre in his work… (more)

Bonus Quick Facts:

  • Famed sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer was once a sniper of the Israeli Defense Force. She was also a survivor of the holocaust, but unfortunately the rest of her family was killed.  Dr. Ruth had this to say about her sniping days: “When I was in my routine training for the Israeli army as a teenager, they discovered completely by chance that I was a lethal sniper.  I could hit the target smack in the center further away than anyone could believe.  Not just that, even though I was tiny and not even much of an athlete, I was incredibly accurate throwing hand grenades too.  Even today I can load a Sten automatic rifle in a single minute, blindfolded.”
  • Nick Offerman, better known as Ron Swanson from the Parks and Recreation TV series, is a professional boat builder and has a side business as a wood craftsman. In 2008, he even released an instructional DVD- “Fine Woodstrip Canoe Building with Nick Offerman,” offering instructions on how to make your own canoe. He stated in an interview with Wood Magazine in 2010, “When I got into acting in the theater, I was really terrible in the beginning. But because I could build things, they’d put me in their shows when I agreed to build things for the set. Then in Chicago, in the mid-90s, I made a living building scenery.”
  • During the 1936 Summer Olympics (the infamous “Nazi Games”) Liechtenstein and Haiti realized that they had the exact same flag (blue stripe over red stripe). A year later, a solution to the problem was instituted- Liechtenstein added a gold ducal crown on the hoist side of the blue stripe of their flag.
  • Joseph Bolitho Johns, also known as Moondyne Joe, was Australia’s best known bushranger (runaway convict). He was first sent to prison for 10 years for stealing bread, bacon, and cheese, a crime that normally only got someone a few month sentence, but due to his belligerence during the trial and refusal to admit any wrong doing, the judge issued a drastic sentence of hard labor in a penal camp in Australia.  Over the course of the rest of his life, he would escape from prison in Australia several times, including the final time despite a special “escape-proof” cell made for him and despite the fact that, when he was out of the cell doing manual labor, he was under the constant gaze of a guard. He was finally captured two years after this last escape, but was ultimately released owing to a promise Governor John Hampton made to him that, “If you get out again, I’ll forgive you.”
  • The two women behind “Ask Ann Landers” and “Dear Abbey” were feuding twin sisters- Esther Lederer and Pauline Phillips respectively. The source of their dispute was reportedly the fact that after Esther took over the Ann Landers column in 1955 (with the original writer being Ruth Crowley from 1943-1955), Pauline decided to start up her own competing column with the same theme, “Dear Abby”. However, they supposedly settled their differences shortly before Esther died in 2002.
  • Heartthrob Ryan Gosling was suspended from school as a youngster for throwing steak knives at his classmates. Why did he do this? Ryan stated in a 2011 interview, “When I first saw First Blood, it put a spell on me and I thought I was Rambo. I even thought my face felt like Sylvester Stallone’s face when I touched it. I went to school the next day and bought a Fisher Price kit and I put steak knives in there and I took them and threw them at all the kids during recess… I’m not proud of this but I did learn a lesson – I was suspended from school (and) my mother said I couldn’t watch R-rated movies anymore.”
  • Will Smith turned down the role of Neo in The Matrix because he thought that the movie was too risky owing to the Wachowskis’ extremely ambitious vision for it, including using untested technology such as the bullet-time effect. Instead, he starred in Wild Wild West. Smith later stated this worked out for the best- “When you see somebody do it like Keanu, you think, ‘Thank God.’ I don’t think I was mature enough as an actor at that point to get out of the way and just let it be and allow the directors to make the movie. I would have been trying to make jokes.”

Other Interesting Stuff:

dry-cleaning-340x394How Dry Cleaning Works and Who Invented It

What happens to clothes after being dropped off at the dry cleaners is a mystery to most. We know that our clothes come back a whole lot cleaner than when we dropped them off, but how? And who first got the bright idea to clean clothing without water? The earliest records of professional dry cleaning go all the way back to the Ancient Romans.  For instance, dry cleaning shops were discovered in the ruins of Pompeii, a Roman city buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Those cleaners, known as fullers, used a type of clay known as fuller’s earth along with lye and ammonia (derived from urine) in order to remove stains such as dirt and sweat from clothing. That process proved pretty… (more)

last-will-and-testament-340x227What Happened to Howard Hughes’ Money After He Died

Over his lifetime, Howard Hughes’ wallet became one of the fattest of his time. It isn’t known exactly how much he was worth at the time of his death, but ten years before he died, he was forced to sell his shares in the airline company TWA. The payout? $546 million (about $3.8 billion today), estimated by some to have been about 1/3 of his net worth. When he died, there was one major problem: Hughes had no direct descendants or immediate family, and he didn’t leave behind a will. At least, that’s what authorities were forced to conclude after an extensive search for one. After contacting his various banks, lawyers, and employees, every hotel he’d ever stayed in, posting classifieds in various newspapers, and even consulting a psychic… (more)

rick-moranis-340x283What Happened to Actor Rick Moranis?

Janet Jackson and wardrobe malfunction.  Peanut butter and jelly.  Sonny and Cher.  Some things just go together.  Sort of how I feel about Canadian-American actor Rick Moranis and the movies Honey, I Shrunk the Kids or Ghostbusters. Whenever I hear his name, I have immediate flashbacks of oversized Cheerios and milk splashing out of a giant bowl.  But what happened to the guy with horn-rimmed glasses?  What is he doing now? Not acting: A comedy-genius, Moranis quietly vanished from acting in 1997, when he was last seen on screen in the movie titled ‘Big Bully.’  He had been slowly disappearing… (more)

wbBandaid-FingerWhy Paper Cuts Hurt So Much

The generally accepted reason paper cuts are so painful primarily lies in the fact that you usually get them on your fingers, particularly your fingertips.  Fingertips and hands have significantly more nociceptors (nerve fibers) per square millimeter than most of the rest of your body, such as your legs, arms, stomach area, etc.  This ends up making cuts on your fingertips feel significantly more painful than cuts elsewhere, even when they are produced by paper or similar objects. So that’s fine for the reason why paper cuts hurt so much more than other cuts on the rest of the body, but why do paper cuts seem to hurt more than other types of cuts on the hand?  This is thought to be because the edges of paper are very dull… (more)

frog-cup-340x509Frogs and Milk- How to Keep Milk from Spoiling Without Refrigeration

For centuries, before refrigeration, an old Russian practice was to drop a frog into a bucket of milk to keep the milk from spoiling. In modern times, many believed that this was nothing more than an old wives’ tale. But researchers at Moscow State University, led by organic chemist Dr. Albert Lebedev, have shown that there could be some benefit to doing this, though of course in the end you’ll be drinking milk that a frog was in. Ice boxes first became available to consumers in the early to mid-19th century and, with that, the ice trade became big business. New England and Norway became major purveyors of ice, but anywhere it was cold, ice was a major export.  Usually made out of wood with tin or zinc walls and insulation material like sawdust, cork, or straw, ice… (more)

This Week’s Podcast Episodes:

Quote of the Week:

  • “Some people ask the secret of our long marriage. We take time to go to a restaurant two times a week. A little candlelight, dinner, soft music and dancing. She goes Tuesdays, I go Fridays.” -Henny Youngman
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