Author Archives: Matt Blitz

Forgotten History: The First Movie and the Scientific Question It Sought to Answer

The first films were little more than what we would consider short clips, a boxer throwing a single punch or train arriving at a station– the type of scenes that today you might only see in the form of animated gifs.  While popular perception is that movies got their start around the early twentieth century, the real seed that grew […]

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What’s a MacGuffin in Films and Why is It Called That?

Hitchcock

Shih C. asks: Why are McGuffin’s in films called that? In the last scene of the 1941 film classic, The Maltese Falcon, Sam Spade (played by Humphrey Bogart) hands over a murderer (played by Mary Astor) and a black falcon statuette to authorities. When asked what the statuette was exactly, Spade looks off in the distance and rather unsatisfactorily explains, […]

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Who Is “Little Debbie”?

Chocolate-Cupcake

Michael C. asks: Was there ever a real Little Debbie or is she a fake mascot like so many other brand people? Who is Little Debbie? The simple answer is that she’s the straw-hat-wearing, blue-eyed little girl on the front of the box of delicious confectioneries like Oatmeal Creme Pies, Honey Buns and whatever Star Crunches are. However, that’s not […]

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The True Story of the Ides of March

caesar

In William Shakespeare’s play “Julius Caesar,” Caesar mocks the soothsayer’s earlier prediction to “Beware the Ides of March.” Later, Caesar says, “The Ides of March have come” to point out the supposed dreaded day did not bring disaster. The soothsayer responds with a prophetic point, “Ay, Caesar; but not gone.” Shortly thereafter, Caesar is stabbed many times over by conspirators […]

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The Origin of Gatorade and How the Tradition of the “Gatorade Shower” Got Started

gatorade-sideline

chastitydetori. asks: Why do athletes dump Gatorade on their coaches after winning a game? During a typical sticky, unbearable August weekend in 1965 in Gainesville- the home of the University of Florida Gators- football practices were well underway in anticipation for the upcoming season. However, the weather had wreaked havoc on the freshman football team over the weekend. 25 players […]

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The Origin of Nachos and How Football Helped Popularize Them Surprisingly Recently

football-and-nachos

Americans eat a lot on Super Bowl Sunday, according to one 2015 study consuming triple the amount of their daily allowance of calories per serving during the Super Bowl. In fact, it’s the second largest food consumption day of the year in the country (behind Thanksgiving). Of the many millions of pounds of snacks eaten in honor of America’s (still) […]

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The Bizarre First Super Bowl Halftime Show

superbowl

These days, Super Bowl halftime shows are star-studded affairs that can eclipse the game itself. More people watched Madonna’s 2012 halftime performance than the Patriots and Giants matchup (despite it being thrilling). In 2007, everyone remembers Prince crooning “Purple Rain” during an actual torrential rainstorm. Also, the Indianapolis Colts beat the Chicago Bears in a rather uneventful game. In 1993, […]

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The Hand of Faith

gold

Sitting in the back of a dark, old-fashioned Las Vegas casino sits, rather unremarkably, the largest gold nugget on display in the world. Slowly spinning on a table in a place not uncoincidentally named “The Golden Nugget,” the so-called “Hand of Faith” gold nugget is not as glamorous nor as shiny as cartoon gold nuggets would have you believe. While […]

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How the Modern Practice of Cheerleading Morphed from a Masculine to Feminine Activity

cheerleaders

While people have been cheering in one form or another at sporting events  seemingly as long as there have been organized sporting events (for instance, see: The Truth About Gladiators and the Thumbs Up), what we’ve come to know as the “American phenomenon of organized cheerleading” dates back to the 19th century, with its genesis coinciding with the rise of […]

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How Did Cereal Become “Part of a Complete Breakfast”?

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Mike D. asks: Why is cereal considered a breakfast food? For kids who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s, it was sugary cereal commercials that dotted the television landscape, featuring lucky leprechauns, wise-cracking droids and adorable Gremlins. A common theme among all of them was advocating these products were a “magical part of a complete breakfast“, helping to ingrain […]

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The Fascinating Origin of the Oreo Cookie

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Harry K. asks: Who invented the Oreo cookie? 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, […]

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