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10 Interesting Histories of Iconic Products

Since the advent of mass production, millions of products have come and gone. Even some innovative and successful products outlive their usefulness, fading into the sands of time alongside interesting failures and ill-conceived fiascoes.

The following products have been around for a very long time, some for a hundred years or more. They’ve become an iconic and ingrained part of our culture, and the little-known and fascinating stories behind their creation and marketing deserve to be told.

Drpepper

It’s somewhat of a misconception that Dr Pepper was created by a doctor (we can’t imagine why), but it’s not too far from the truth. The inventor of the world’s oldest soft drink (in 1885) was Charles Alderton, a pharmacist at Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store in Waco, Texas. It’s also somewhat commonly believed that it was created as a medicine, but that’s untrue: Alderton just enjoyed mixing up flavorful, fizzy stuff when we wasn’t being a pharmacist. He enjoyed the smell of all the fruity syrups from the soda fountain mingled together, and set out to create a drink that tasted like that smell.

Owner Wade Morrison loved the new drink, and supposedly named it after a friend, a Dr. Charles Pepper. As demand grew, Alderton and Morrison found it easiest to simply sell the syrup to merchants around town, who could mix it with carbonated water themselves—thus becoming the first manufacturers of soda concentrate.

Eventually, Alderton grew tired of fizzy mixings, and sold his side of the business to Morrison, who promptly partnered up with Robert Lazenby, owner of a moderately successful ginger ale company. The pair introduced their concoction to the public at large at the 1904 World’s Fair Expo in St. Louis—the very same world fair that introduced the hamburger, the hot dog and the ice cream cone—and Dr Pepper has been one of the top soft drinks in the US ever since.

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Olay is a multi-billion dollar skin care line from the venerable Proctor & Gamble company that, until 1999, was known as Oil Of Olay in the US and many other countries. Most of us are familiar with the white, creamy stuff in the plastic bottle. Of course, neither of those things applied at its inception, and its developers relied on some pretty unusual testing and marketing techniques.

Graham Wulff, a chemist from South Africa, developed the stuff in 1949 and called it Olay as a variation of lanolin, the main active ingredient. It began as a pink fluid in a heavy glass bottle, and Wulff—along with partner Jack Lowe, a copywriter and ad man—initially tested the product on their wives, because what’s the worst that could happen?

Fortunately, nothing bad did, and in fact the product proved effective in softening wrinkles and contributing to healthy-looking skin. Early advertisements simply promised to share the “secret of a younger you,” and didn’t refer to the product as a moisturizer, or . . . anything else. Similarly, nowhere on the bottle did it say what the product was for—it relied largely on mystery, curiosity and word of mouth. Obviously, it worked; the product known in various countries as Oil Of Ulay, Ulan or Olaz has become quite entrenched in the beauty industry.

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Listerine was developed by Dr. Joseph Lawrence, based on pioneering work done by Joseph Lister, whom he named it after. It wasn’t intended for oral use however—it was simply an antiseptic, and the first one. Before Lister’s discovery that carbolic acid killed germs, far more people died from infections incurred during surgery than from the injuries themselves (illustrated by a saying from the time: “The operation was a success, but the patient died.”)

Consider: since nobody knew how to stop infections before Lister, amputations (to keep them from spreading) were the most common major surgery of the time, and the death rate from this procedure was around forty percent. By the time Listerine had been in use for about twenty five years, in 1910, the death rate from amputations had dropped to a measly three percent. One shudders to think how many more who were injured in World War I (still the one of the deadliest wars of all time) would have died if not for Listerine.

Because carbolic acid is hard on the skin, surgeons eventually began using boracic acid in its place. But Listerine’s use had been growing as an oral antiseptic, and eventually that use eclipsed any other. The mouthwash market was originated by Listerine, the only product (with the possible exception of the condom) to both save millions of lives and make date night more awesome.

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Noah McVicker and his nephew, Joseph, are the inventors of Play-Doh, the non-toxic modeling clay that smells weird, yet really makes you wonder what it tastes like. The story goes that Joseph McVicker had a conversation with a teacher friend about what a pain regular modeling clay—the kind his students used in class—was to work with and clean up, and a light bulb went off over Joe’s head.

See, the McVickers were the owners of Kutol Chemicals, a reasonable successful company that sold a clay-like substance that bore the company’s name as a wallpaper cleaning compound. He shipped off a box to his teacher friend, and the kids loved it—even though the only color available was a dull off-white and the packaging, as you can see above, was a little less fun than what we’ve come to associate with the product.

The word started getting around, and before long the McVickers decided that the wallpaper-cleaning game was for suckers. They started a new company, Rainbow Crafts, and began marketing their clay under the familiar name and in a variety of colors. The company was bought by General Mills in 1965 and merged with Kenner in 1971; some two billion cans of the stuff later, it’s hard to believe Play-Doh was ever anything but a fun way to sculpt stuff, or an afternoon snack.

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We doubt there are many people over the age of five in the world who haven’t taken a Bayer aspirin. Bottles of Bayer grow spontaneously inside empty medicine cabinets. It seems like it’s been around since the Middle Ages but it actually got its start in the 19th century.

German professor Johann Buchner isolated salicin from willow bark in 1828, and within years an italian chemist by the name of Raffaele Piria had converted the compound into salicylic acid, the active ingredient in aspirin. Nobody knew what to do with it, for its beneficial pain-blocking properties were mitigated by the fact that it tended to tear up stomach lining. The game of musical chemists continued as Frenchman Charles Frederic Gerhardt was able to buffer the compound—creating a new one, acetylsalicylic acid, which neutralizing the problem, but he simply lost interest and discontinued his work on it.

German chemist and Bayer employee Felix Hoffmann rediscovered this work in the late 1800s, successfully using the compound to treat his father’s arthritis, and aspirin was patented by Bayer in 1900. Bayer, however, had to give up that patent as a condition of the Treaty Of Versailles after losing World War I, along with its patent on another wonder drug—heroin.

Vintage-Wd-40

The inventor of WD-40—which you have a can of somewhere in your house, we guarantee it—is Norm Larsen, who started his company Rocket Chemical with two other employees in 1953. As a chemist, Norm was self-taught—his only education was high school, but he loved reading books about chemistry and really, really wanted to invent something helpful and useful.

This was early in the US space program, and a major monkey wrench in the Atlas rocket program was corrosion caused by moisture. Norm and his employees figured this was not a problem that a little chemistry couldn’t solve, and went about attempting to create a formula capable of displacing water and preventing corrosion. After many failed attempts—thirty-nine, to be exact—they hit upon the successful formula on attempt number forty, and Water Displacement formula 40 was born.

Larsen sold the company and the product in the mid-’50s for $20,000—a flat price, no royalties or any other considerations, as he felt he could always go and invent something better. WD-40 was put into aerosol cans and released for consumer use in 1958, and by 1993 it was estimated that you could find a can of the stuff in eighty percent of American households.

Jack-Daniel-Silver-Cornet-Band

Jack Daniel was a master distiller of whisky in Lynchburg, Tennessee, in the mid 1800s. Since the ingredients for making spirits were abundant in that region, he had plenty of competition; as such, he decided that the thing to would be to make his whisky better than everyone else’s. It so happened that he had a spring with remarkably clean water on his property, and he was also very picky about the grains used in his product. Also, he developed a method of filtering his booze through ten feet of charcoal to produce a nice, smooth belt.

Demand began to seriously take off in the mid-twentieth century, with Jack fueling the artistic output of luminaries like William Faulkner and Frank Sinatra (who referred to Jack as “the nectar of the gods”). Jack is one of the most recognizable brands of spirits in the world but the origin of it recipe was murky- until recently.

In 2012, Welsh businessman Mark Evans was researching family history when he happened upon a book written by his great-great-grandmother—a herbalist who wrote down a recipe in 1853 that may very well be the original formula for Jack Daniel’s. The company’s website states that its founder is from Wales, and Mark uncovered the fact that his great-great uncle split for America later that decade. His name? John “Jack The Lad” Daniel.

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Virginia physician Charles Fleet invented lip balm in the mid-1800s, selling the first version of his product as little waxy-looking tubes wrapped in tinfoil. The product was successful, but decades of wrapping little waxy tubes in tinfoil must do something to a man, for by the early 1900s Dr. Fleet was keen to sell off his idea.

The endeavor had begun to lose money, so in 1912 Fleet sold his recipe to John Morton for the whopping sum of five bucks. Morton began mixing up batches of the stuff in his bathtub, while his wife would melt it down, cool it, and chop it into pieces in their kitchen. Apparently their heart was in the lip balm business to a greater degree than Dr. Fleet, as they were able to use their profits to fund the startup of Morton Manufacturing and begin pumping out ChapStick in earnest.

In the 1930s, the company commissioned artist Frank Wright Jr. to produce the iconic ChapStick logo, which of course is still used today. Wright’s fee? Fifteen bucks, which you’ll notice is three times the amount paid for the recipe. If there has ever been a more shrewd twenty dollars spent, we’d love to hear about it.

Turtle Wax

Benjamin Hirsch loved chemistry and cars. Shiny cars, and the shinier the better. He invented a product he called Plastone (mixed up in batches in the bathtub), an auto polish, and took streetcars around town to all the gas stations, giving demonstrations and hoping to sell a case or two.

Ben was struck by inspiration passing by Turtle Creek while out on sales calls in Wisconsin—as a turtle’s hard shell keeps out harmful stuff (and is shiny), so did his wax for your car! The rechristened Turtle Wax became his life’s work—he traveled all over the country giving demonstrations, even going so far as to stealth-wax peoples’ cars in the hope of making a sale when they came back.

Ben’s tenacity grew the brand quite effectively, and Turtle Wax is notable for another reason as well—while Hirsch himself died in 1966, his company is to this day owned by his family and employs mostly family members and friends, with the average employee having been there for ten or twelve years. Turtle Wax, started by a determined guy with five hundred dollars, now posts annual sales exceeding one hundred million.

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When cereal was first conceived of as a breakfast food, most people were just fine with bacon and eggs and such. Nobody was talking about heart-healthy anything in the 1930s and ’40s, and cereal required cooking then as well. The first cold cereal, called Cherrioats was created by General Mills in 1940—it was the first ready-to-eat cold cereal that one could just pour milk on and chow down. It was marketed as “the breakfast food you’ve always wanted,” and rightfully so. It was an instant hit, shipping a couple of million cases in its first year.

This must have made Lester Borchardt feel vindicated—he was the General Mills employee who decided to tinker with puffing oats, basically firing little dough balls out of an air cannon. While that sounds like a lot of fun, Lester’s boss told him to quit screwing around and come up with something they could sell. Lester, of course, didn’t listen, and spent a full two months in defiance of his bosses orders continuing to develop the machine.

Another problem was another (poorly) competing product that was already using the name. After five years of steadily growing sales, this company decided it wanted a piece of the action—so General Mills promptly changed the name. Dozens of “O’s” have been spawned in the decades since, and at about the same time the company began marketing the cereal almost exclusively to children through advertisements on the Lone Ranger and Mickey Mouse Club shows—a business strategy that would not only be copied to a ridiculous degree, but which made Cheerios the most popular cereal ever within a short time.

So let this be a lesson—when your boss tells you to quit screwing around and get back to work, simply tell him you are working, and show him this article. Just make sure you then go ahead and invent an iconic, genius product that will make the company billions. No problem!

Diddy May Have Actually Punched Drake Over A Song

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WENN

Yesterday, we told you Diddy and Drake allegedly got into a slap fight with one another at a club in Miami.

But, the genesis of the conflict was unclear.

Now, TMZ is reporting Drake and Diddy had it out over a song and not over Diddy’s longtime girlfriend, Cassie, as was originally suspected.

It’s not certain what the song in question was, but apparently, producer Boi-1da gave the track to both Diddy and Drake to lay down lyrics on top of approximately eight months ago.

Boi-1da’s most noteworthy song with Drake is “0 to 100/The Catch Up.”

He also recorded “How Bout Now” and “6 God” with Drizzy.

Whatever the song is, Diddy supposedly didn’t do his part, whereas Drake got to work and hit it out of the park.

This did not make Diddy happy, and the two rappers saw each other for the first time since the song’s release during the Art Basel festivities this past weekend.

Diddy reportedly said something to Drake which Drake quickly dismissed.

Diddy then said,

You’ll never disrespect me again.

And the elder proceeded to slap Drake.

Drake re-aggravated an old shoulder injury in the brawl and had to be brought to the hospital.

So, there you have it. The mystery of the slap fight has been solved, for the most part.

Amazing, Perfectly Timed Photo Of Usain Bolt

1. Last night Usain Bolt regained his world 100m title in Moscow, with a time of 9.77 seconds.

2. Just after he crossed the line, this auspicious photo was taken.

Getty / AFP / Olivier Morin

3. Sporting triumph echoed by an apparent sign from God? No big deal.

4. All in a day’s work for the fastest man on earth.

UPDATE: The photographer, Olivier Morin, has explained how he got the shot on the AFP blog:

Let’s be honest: the only things I was able to control were the framing of the shot and when to hit the remote-controlled trigger. The flash of lightning -– well, of course that can’t be planned, even if the stormy sky had been rumbling for 20 minutes and all of us photographers were trying to capture a lightning bolt.

This was, I think, a once-in-a-lifetime moment. In my 25 years as a photographer I’ve never had an uncontrollable external element make a photo like this, and I imagine if I tried again for a similar result for the next 50 years, it wouldn’t happen again. So, I only really give myself credit for one percent of this picture!

Jon Stewart: "Duck Dynasty" Star Shouldn't Be Booted From Show For "Saying Ignorant Shit"

“Look, I think what the guy said is ignorant, but I also have an inclination to support a world where saying ignorant shit on television doesn’t get you kicked off that medium,” Jon Stewart said. “I guess I stand with the free speech absolutists at Fox News, who don’t believe you should pressure people to have to adhere to cultural norms of speech — mostly.”

An A&E executive told The New York Times on Thursday it was Robertson’s overt comparison between bestiality and homosexuality that prompted the suspension.

The Robertson family issued a statement Thursday on the suspension, thanking fans for their support and suggesting the show’s future is in doubt without the patriarch.

“We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but, as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm. We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty,” the statement said.

Community Post: 18 Other Bowls For Lovers Of Bowls

1. You could have some cereal out of a bowl…

Via http://Shutterstock

2. Make yourself a delicious bread bowl…

Get a recipe here.

3. Or get the biggest bowl you have and fill it with BuzzFeed Food’s 47-Layer Dip:

Get the recipe, video, and layer-by-layer commentary here.

4. Or pick up these novelty chip-n-dip helmet bowls:

Get them at Thrillist.

5. Or you could seek out the largest bowls of food in the world:

Like the largest bowl of Bak Kut Teh, or the Guinness Book-verified biggest bowls of pasta, tabbouleh, soup, porridge, goulash, couscous, or cereal.

6. And eat them out of the world’s largest bowl made of porcelain.

Over two feet high and over six feet across at the top.

7. And for help getting through those monster bowls, you could share this super bowl:

For residents of Colorado or Washington, or registered medical patients in any of these states, of course.

8. Let all that digest while giving F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story “The Bowl” a quick read…

Read it in full here.

9. …or while trying to bring back the bowl cut.

10. You can take bowling and football to new, weird heights with Fowling:

Pronounced like “bowling”, with an F.

11. Or just go regular bowling, with football playing on the big screen.

Via http://Shutterstock

49ers fans can do just that in Albany, CA.

12. You could prove yourself at the annual Geek Bowl in Austin, Texas, the biggest pub quiz in America, on Saturday, February 9th.

13. And if those bowls aren’t super or geeky enough for you, you could go Super Bowling yourself on your old NES:

14. You could replay your VCR-recorded copies of Beavis and Butthead’s “Butt Bowls”:

15. Or your DVR’s copies of the Lingerie Bowls.

Though it’s no longer airing as gimmicky counterprogramming in an attempt to legitimize women’s tackle football.

16. If none of those bowls strike your fancy, you can watch the one everyone else will be watching this Sunday: The Puppy Bowl.

Featuring the Hamster Blimp…

the Kitty Halftime Show…

and Hedgehogs in Tutus as this year’s cheerleaders, replacing last year’s Piglet Pep Squad.

17. Or you could take “puppy bowl” a little more literally…

18. This Sunday, though, you’ll find us in a pillow bowl full of puppies watching the Puppy Bowl.

We hear there’s some kind of sporting event CBS is running to draw viewers away. We might check it out during the commercials.

Russia Loses Control Of Gecko Sex Satellite

Less than one week after its launch, Russia has lost control of a research satellite carrying various organisms, including five geckos, which was testing the effect of weightlessness on mating.

The satellite — Foton-M– was launched on July 19 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome and while it continues to transmit information on location and system performance, a press release from the Federal Space Agency sent out yesterday reported that it is not responding to mission control commands.

However, other systems are operating normally and the satellite continues to orbit on autopilot. Scientists are currently attempting to re-establish a connection with the operating system to ensure its controlled return to Earth, but it doesn’t look good for the little fellas right now.

Researchers from Russia’s Institute of Medico-Biological Problems, who headed the study, have reportedly said that they are still able to observe the frisky behavior of geckos on board the craft and may be able to salvage some information on how sexual behavior is affected. However, they did not confirm whether the lizards had successfully done the deed or not.

In addition to these experiments, Foton-M was also being used to investigate the growth of crystals in microgravity for a variety of applications including the generation of semiconductors and biomedical products.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that this has happened to Russia’s space program. Last year, a similar satellite called Bion-M experienced a massive system failure, killing the majority of animals on board including gerbils, mice and fish. In 2011, the Phobos-Grunt also plummeted back to Earth shortly after its launch. 

[Header image “Hallo Gecko!” by Schub@, via Flickr, used in accordance with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0]

Community Post: Everything You Need To Know: Terminator 5

Before you read further, know this: I make no promises that potential spoilers do not lay in this article, or that this entire thing wasn’t a waste of time. The movie isn’t out yet, but rumors are flying – so let’s dive in.

Ok, now that we have that out of the way..

Terminator 5 has unofficially been given the proverbial “green light” by Paramount Pictures, with Laeta Kalogridis (Producer: Avatar/Shutter Island) and Patrick Lussier (Drive Angry, Dracula 2000, and edited more movies than I want to list.) writing the script. So far, things could be worse for Terminator lovers, Drive angry wasn’t entirely terrible… so, there’s that. We all know Justin Lin was supposed to direct Terminator 5 when it was first announced, but he decided to do Fast 6 instead, and that worked out well for him, he did mention that if T5 were to be delayed he would remain open to coming back to the Terminator project, delayed it was – and this is where things get interesting.

According to an article on The Examiner, via WWE Insider – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is in talks to sign on to T5.

Let that soak in.

Suddenly Justin Lin doesn’t sound like a long shot, after working with The Rock on Fast5 and Fast 6, it would make the transition that much easier.

But, The Rock?

I feel the same. On one hand we have possibly my favorite franchise of all time. On the other cybernetic hand we have Dwayne Johnson, who can – and has – lifted up every franchise he has touched (Editor’s note: Except the Mummy and the whole Scorpion King thing, but we’ll blame that on Brendan Fraiser – cause he sucks). If there is one franchise that is screaming “HELP ME OBI WAN KENOBI, YOU’RE MY ONLY HOPE” it is regrettably The Terminator franchise. After the apocalyptic pooch-screw that McG bestowed upon Terminator Salvation, and the hypnotherapy bills I racked up trying to forget it, a 5th installment seemed like it was never going to happen and if it somehow did make it.. well… the word flaccid comes to mind.

Queue: The Rock. This guy can easily turn any ugly duckling into a magical vein splitting swan. Need proof?

The Fast and The Furious franchise.

Skip forward to Fast & Furious (That’s part four..) – It was OK, and a good turnaround point for the series. Now add The Rock opposite Vin Diesel, and you have a gold mine. Fast & Furious 6 just cruised by $500 million at the worldwide box office.

So, following the same formula:

We take one part Arnold Schwarzenegger

one part Dwayne Johnson

a dash of Justin Lin

shake over ice and serve in a solid metal goblet.

But, one of the unfortunate parts of all this; Arnold is old. It pains me to even type that. At 65 he is still in semi-great shape, but not to the level we expect The Terminator to be. This leaves us with The Rock being The Terminator, and Arnold being a human. There is no other logical way to do it without some cheesy CGI that the public will hate. The Rock fits the build 100%, I can’t deny that at all. If he chooses to sign on (he will if it’s presented to him) it could be the crown jewel of his career, and the cap to Schwarzenegger’s amazing entertainment history at the same time. Editor’s note: It is scary that he may be the next Arnold? I accept it, but reluctantly.

Right about now you are probably curious as to what the story will be in this case, and luckily for you, I have some ideas. Or at least an idea.

T3 ended with John held up in Crystal Peak, as he assumes command of the scattered bits of the human resistance Skynet didn’t exterminate in the initial strike.. Now, a system like Skynet will surely have its critics in any real world scenario, and even more likely a critic within the military itself. Enter Arnold, a higher up military officer/general/special ops – maybe even retired, maybe he retired because he didn’t approve of the Skynet program in the first place.. When the time came, and his suspicions are confirmed, he leads a militia against the first generation of terminators and Skynet itself. Joining forces with John Connor they form The Resistance and John get’s to see the whole father figure idea come full circle at the same time. Naturally The Rock will be the first generation of the Terminator, a prototype unit built to infiltrate and destroy The Resistance. When that ultimately fails, Skynet builds the Arnold T-101 and models it after the Arnold human who is close to John already, and succeeds in killing him. This hardens John and turns him into the badass leader he is supposed to be in the future, and ties the entire time travel Arnold father figure thing together.

What’s great about this is that once the current time Arnold is killed, The Rock can be the Terminator all he wants. The T-101 was only used because of the connection to John; it’s not like the T-101 is the best Terminator Skynet had up it’s sleeve. Liquid Metal, bro, Liquid Metal.

I feel it is only right to tell you about another idea other people have come up with, according to The Examiner:

” A source close to the project says one idea being considered for the film could throw fans of the Terminator franchise for a loop. According to the scenario outlined, T5 may be a prequel set in the days of Sarah Connor’s parents, marking the first time terminators have been sent back in time to kill a character that existed before both John and Sarah Connor.

Incredibly, Schwarzenegger may not play the role of a machine in the next film, but a potentially heroic human figure in or close to the Connor family. One theory is that Schwarzenegger’s remarkable ability to protect the Connor family in the 1940s or 1950s with antiquated weaponry by today’s standards ultimately inspired the machines to develop a terminator in his likeness that was eventually sent to 1984 when Sarah Connor was first targeted for termination.”

That is a tricky road to take, I personally don’t want to see a period set Terminator movie and I really don’t want to see Nazi Terminators, and on the flip side of that – isn’t The Rock Samoan and African Canadian? I don’t imagine the 40’s or 50’s to be very tolerant, even if he is a terminator. Just too much crap to deal with in my opinion.

The current time sequel is a much more stable idea, and moves the story forward for Dwayne Johnson to launch it into a 6th installment about the future wars and we can all keep on forgetting about Terminator: Salvation, which is basically the Tokyo Drift stepchild of the bunch anyway.

It’s sad that this will surely be the last Terminator movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger, but we do have a new Conan, Twins (Triplets), A zombie movie called Maggie, and The Expendables 3 to hold us over for the next couple years.

As I said this entire thing could be a waste of time, and maybe The Rock is just a reverse engineered T-101 that the humans have made into a bodyguard for John and Katherine’s children. “Robo Baby Sitter X980…?”

One thing’s for certain, keep McG the hell away from it, and I promise you my money. Twice.