Weekly Wrap Volume 133

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

sistina-internoThat Time Mozart Pirated a Forbidden Piece of Music from the Catholic Church from Memory

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is known for many things, few of which we care to cover on this site because you probably already know all about them. Instead, we prefer to cover things that you likely didn’t know, like that the alphabet song was based on a tune by Mozart, or covering his extremely adult themed works that included a bit of an obsession with all things scatological, and the significantly more family friendly subject of today- that time Mozart pirated a cherished choral arrangement from the Vatican, reportedly all from memory. That piece was Miserere mei…(more)

oreo-shakeThe Fascinating Origin of the Oreo

In 1890, a group of eight large New York City bakeries combined to form the New York Biscuit Company and built a giant six-story factory in West Chelsea. Eight years later, they merged with their competitor, Chicago’s American Biscuit and Manufacturing to form an even larger conglomerate – the National Biscuit Company, but the factory and headquarters remained in Chelsea. In 1901, the National Biscuit Company put their abbreviated company name on a box of wafers for the first time – Nabisco. Soon, Nabisco became the company’s official name. On April 2, 1912, the National Biscuit Company announced to their sales team that they were introducing three “highest class biscuits,”…(more)

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Bonus Quick Facts

  • The Lone Ranger’s sidekick’s name, Tonto, means “moron/fool/stupid” in Spanish. As a result, in the dubbed Spanish version, the character’s name is change to “Toro,” meaning “bull.”
  • The United States has been in debt every year in its history except very briefly for about a year around 1835 when the colorful Andrew Jackson was President. A few decades later, the Civil War happened and increased the national debt higher than it had ever been before as a percentage of the United States’ gross domestic product (GDP). After the war was over, the debt rapidly fell off to nearly nothing until WWI, which once again saw the national debt rise to Civil War era levels as a percentage of the GDP. Then the Great Depression and WWII happened, the latter seeing the national debt rise to an astounding near 110% of the GDP, a feat the U.S. hasn’t come close to matching since, even with the massive public debt today which is a little over 70% the GDP.
  • German Chocolate Cake isn’t German and had nothing to do with the country. It owes its name to American Sam German, who developed a type of dark baking chocolate for the American Baker’s Chocolate Company in 1852. Over a century later, a woman by the name of George Clay got her recipe for a cake using “German’s Chocolate” published in the Dallas Morning Star on June 3, 1957, under the name “German’s Chocolate Cake.” General Foods, who now owned the German’s Chocolate brand, heavily promoted this recipe. It became a national hit, but not as “German’s Chocolate Cake,” as it was originally listed. Instead, it soon was called “German Chocolate Cake,” helping give rise to the myth that it was invented in Germany.
  • Hitler was named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1938. They stated, “Lesser men of the year seemed small indeed beside the Führer.” That said, their reasoning for picking him was not to honor his actions up to that point. They noted, among other knocks against him, “Germany’s 700,000 Jews have been tortured physically, robbed of homes and properties, denied a chance to earn a living, chased off the streets. Now they are being held for ‘ransom,’ a gangster trick through the ages. ” They ended their article on their decision to name Hitler the Man of the Year on the ominous note, “To those who watched the closing events of the year it seemed more than probable that the Man of 1938 may make 1939 a year to be remembered.” Time certainly nailed that one.
  • The first music video ever shown on MTV (yes, they used to show those) was Video Killed the Radio Star by The Buggles on August 1, 1981. When MTV launched on that August day, it was only available to cable subscribers in parts of New Jersey.
  • According to the Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology, “checkmate” in chess derives from the Persian term “shāh māt,” which means something to the effect of “the king is helpless/defeated.”
  • 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.”

Other Interesting Stuff

birds-sleeping-340x464How Birds Grip Things When They Sleep

Everyone needs sleep, but for many birds, by necessity this has to happen while perched on a branch or other place that must be gripped. Anyone who has ever fallen asleep reading and found her book on the floor knows how difficult it can be to hold onto something while snoozing. So how do perching birds do it? Powered by tendons, the feet of grasping birds (think perching birds and raptors) have a pair of them in the back, flexor digitorum longus and flexor halluciss longus, which are connected to deep flexor muscles in the leg. The digitorum branches and works the three toes in the front, while the hallucis works the back toe, known as the hallux. Both stretch over the ankle, and when the bird lands and the ankle bends, this forces both…(more)

American-CockroachWhat do Cockroaches Eat and Where do They Live When There are No Houses Around?

Sneaky and skittering, invasive and indomitable, the disgusting peridomestic cockroach is a formidable enemy for anyone unlucky enough to live among them. Interestingly, however, they are surprisingly delicate, and at least one species is utterly dependent on humans for its survival.

Of the 5,000 known species of cockroaches, those that most plague people are the American cockroach (Periplaneta Americana) and the German cockroach (Blattella Germanica). American Cockroach; Americana is the largest cockroach…(more)

breastfeedingIs It Possible to Breastfeed With Implants?

Given the well-documented benefits of breastfeeding to the long- and short- term health of children, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusively breastfeeding infants for at least the first six months, and continuing to nurse, along with giving supplemental foods, throughout the first year of life. In fact, if one so chooses, babies can get everything they need nutritionally from the mother’s milk up until about a year old, at which point their diet must be supplemented with solid foods. However, many women who have had breast implants fear that they may not be able to breastfeed their children, assuming that their implants will impair their ability to nurse, or at least do so effectively; luckily, this is mostly a myth, and, in fact, most women with implants who wish to do so are able..(more)

Carotenemia-340x280If You Eat an Excessive Amount of Carrots, Your Skin Will Turn an Orangish/Yellow Shade 

Take notes those of you from New Jersey, you don’t need to get a fake tan to turn orange, you can simply eat large amounts of orange plants, such as orange carrots. The resulting condition is known as carotenemia and isn’t as uncommon as you might think. It particularly rears its orangish-yellow head with infants that are often fed copious amounts of mushed carrots and a variety of vegetables that contain high amounts of carotene. Carotene is a pigment and if you consume a lot of it, the carotene levels in your body build up and your skin will turn orangish-yellow. This effect will typically first show up with your nose and/or palms showing the color first, which is why you occasionally see babies with orange noses. Luckily, especially for kids whose parents over feed them carrots…(more)

mario-bros-340x425The Surprisingly Long History of Nintendo

Believe it or not, the history of Nintendo goes all the way back to 1889. And before you ask- no, they were not selling Mario figures carved from wood. Originally named “Nintendo Koppai”, the small business based in Kyoto started by Fusajiro Yamauchi produced Hanafuda Cards. For those unfamiliar, these are simple playing cards that are used to play multiple games – much like the more common standardized 52 playing card sets. Nintendo’s cards were hand made and quickly gained in popularity. (If you’re wondering about the name…(more)

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