Weekly Wrap Volume 28

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

buffalo-wingsWhy Buffalo Wings Are Called That

Unsurprisingly, neither the origin of the name nor the food item itself have anything to do with actual buffalo, nor American Bison which many people call buffalo even though they are not. Rather, this tasty item originated in Buffalo, New York, with most foodstorians indicating buffalo wings probably were first served in the Anchor Bar there.  Frank and Teressa Bellissimo owned that bar, which they had purchased in 1939. In 1964, Theresa had an idea: why not fry chicken wings up and serve them in a hot sauce?  Of course, different stories come from all of the primary persons involved… (more)

peanut-butter-and-jellyThe Surprisingly Short History of the Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

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 today in America who grew up in a world where the PB&J sandwich simply wasn’t well-known at all. *gasp*  First, let’s start with the ingredients. Bread… (more)

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

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’. As you might guess from this, the myth that a Mac name denotes Scottish heritage while a Mc name denotes Irish heritage is simply not true. Similarly, the assertion that Mac… (more)

diet-sodaThe Truth About Aspartame and Your Health

A quick online search of Aspartame will provide you with numerous opinions about this artificial sweetener.  Some claim it causes things like cancer, seizures, multiple sclerosis, lupus, memory problems and brain tumors.  Just about every governmental organization in the world, regulating food products, have deemed it safe for human consumption. (But, you know, just about every governing body in the world still gets the “sodium raises blood pressure” myth wrong, despite overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary, so let’s not take their word on the whole Aspartame thing!) In an attempt to provide some sanity to the controversy, let’s take an in-depth… (more)

pope-pius-iiThe Pope Who Wrote a Popular Romance Novel

Pope Pius II was born Enea Silvio Piccolomini near Siena, Italy in 1405, one of 18 children. His family was part of the Italian aristocracy, but they had fallen into poverty.  Once the future Pope was old enough, he went to university and then began work as a teacher, before becoming a secretary to Cardinal Domenico Capranica in 1431. He was later a follower of the Antipope Felix V and was excommunicated for siding with a man who went against the real Pope’s wishes.  Back then, the future Pope Pius II was part of a group that is today known as the Renaissance humanists. He also fathered illegitimate children and wrote erotic literature and obscene poetry. Shortly after one of his… (more)

Bonus Quick Facts:

  • Twilight was rejected by fourteen publishers before finally getting published.
  • The first to use the Temporary Insanity Defense was a congressman, Daniel Sickles, who killed the composer of The Star Spangled Banner’s son, Phillip Barton Key II.
  • Cats are the only known animal, including humans, that prefer to be given things freely, rather than needing to do some task to get them.  Google “contrafreeloading” for more information on this one.
  • Astronauts on the International Space Station see approximately 15 sunrises and sunsets every day.
  • 50% of the stake in Domino’s Pizza was once traded for a used VW Beetle. 38 years later, 93% of the company stake was sold for $1 billion.
  • There is a species of jellyfish, the Turritopsis Nutricula, that is biologically immortal, able to age backwards and forwards.
  • Barry Manilow wrote the State Farm jingle “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there”. He’s also done jingles for KFC and Pepsi, among others.
  • Michael J Fox’smiddle name is Andrew. The “J” is in homage to actor Michael J. Pollard.
  • The call sign “Air Force One” was first used when Dwight D. Eisenhower was in office in 1953.
  • The “Australian” Shepherd breed of dog was developed in America.

Other Interesting Stuff:

gage-340x575The Bizarre Tale of Phineas Gage

What was supposed to be just another day on the job for 25-year-old Phineas Gage turned out to be anything but, with events transpiring to make him a legend – in neurology anyway. On that fateful day, Phineas Gage suffered a traumatic brain injury when a very large iron rod went through his head.  Despite this, he survived and became one of the first to demonstrate a clear link between brain trauma and personality change.  On September 13, 1848, Gage was helping excavate rocks to make way for a railroad track on the Rutland and Burlington Railroad near Cavendish in Vermont. Just prior… (more)

baseballWhy “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” is Sung During the 7th Inning Stretch of Major League Baseball Games

You might be surprised to learn that this staple of Major League Baseball games is actually something of a modern practice, first starting as a regular part of the seventh inning stretch with the White Sox in the late 1970s, thanks to Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Carabina, better known as Harry Caray.  Before this, the song had occasionally been sung by fans at various baseball games (both amateur and in the Major Leagues), but never as a regular thing nor at any designated time. The first known instance of this was at a Los Angeles high school game in 1934. It was also played before one of the games in the 1934 World Series when Pepper Martin and the St. Louis Cardinals Band played it. Harry Caray started singing the song during the seventh inning stretch in 1971… (more)

Sergeant-StubbySergeant Stubby: The Most Decorated Dog of WWI

When he was a puppy in 1917, Stubby was wandering around the fields of Yale University. Private Robert J. Conroy was undergoing military training in the area at the time, and found the little dog with a short tail who he decided to name Stubby. Due to the way the dog was found, it’s impossible to know his exact breed. Newspapers at the time claimed he was a Pit Bull, and while he certainly has some features of the breed, most consider his breed to be “undetermined” or “mixed.” Conroy brought Stubby back to camp… (more)

vaccinesDo Vaccines Cause Autism?

In 1998, there was a groundbreaking study telling parents that their children were at risk of getting autism from vaccines. Parents everywhere collectively gasped. After all, they had been told for years vaccines were the best way to prevent any number of unwanted diseases. Now they find out the very treatment they thought was making their children better could potentially result in devastating consequences, at least in the case of low-functioning Autism. The only problem was that same study published in the Lancet was later retracted. Its author, Andrew Wakefield, was shown to have falsified data. His “science” proved to be fraudulent, and riddled… (more)

This Week’s Podcast Episodes:

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