Author Archives: Emily Upton

The “White Mouse” Who Became Australia’s Most Decorated WWII Servicewoman

nancy-wake

Today I found out about Nancy Wake, aka “The White Mouse,” who became Australia’s most decorated servicewoman during World War II. Despite her future successes, Nancy Wake had humble beginnings. She was born in Wellington, New Zealand in 1912, but her family moved to Sydney, Australia when she was almost two and she grew up there. A Maori midwife delivered […]

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Grape-Nuts Contain Neither Grapes Nor Nuts… So What are They Made Of?

whole-grains

Grape-Nuts is a wheat and barley cereal developed by C.W. Post in 1897, and it has actually made some interesting contributions to American food history. A box of Grape-Nuts actually contains “whole grain wheat flour, malted barley flour, isolated soy protein, salt, whole grain barley flour, malt extract, and dried yeast.” It also boasts a number of essential vitamins and […]

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When Did Humans Start Wearing Clothes?

monkey-clothes

M. Schane asks: When did humans start wearing clothing? Determining exactly when humans began wearing clothes is a challenge, largely because early clothes would have been things like animal hides, which degrade rapidly. Therefore, there’s very little archaeological evidence that can be used to determine the date that clothing started being worn. There have been several different theories based on […]

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Why “Mac” and “Mc” Surnames Often Contain a Second Capital Letter

scottish

David asks: Why is the second “C” capitalized in names like “MacCleod”? The short story is that “Mc” and “Mac” are prefixes that mean “son of.” Early inconsistencies in records are what led to having both Mc and Mac prefixes. Mc is just an abbreviation of Mac, and both can actually be abbreviated further to the much less common M’. […]

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The Surprisingly Short History of the Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

peanut-butter-and-jelly

The peanut butter and jelly sandwich is such a staple of American childhood these days that it seems like it’s been around, well, forever. In fact, it took a surprisingly long time after all the necessary ingredients were invented for someone to put them together, and several decades more before doing this became popular. In fact, there are people alive […]

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Why School Buses Are Yellow and Why They Don’t Typically Have Seatbelts

school-bus

Today I found out why school buses are yellow. School buses are the primary mode of student transportation in North America. An estimated twenty-six million students in the United States alone are transported to school every school day via bus—over half the student population in the country. While school buses in countries outside of North America usually look like any […]

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