15 Helpings of Trivia We Scarfed Down This Week
The Big Mac plays a special role in economics. We sometimes compare the purchasing power of different countries by comparing the differing price of the Big Mac. Also, when fast-food workers get raises, people say this will lead to $25 Big Macs (they’re wrong, but they do say it).
One time, McDonald’s went nuts and cut the price of their Big Mac by almost 75 percent. Find out what happened next below, along with some information about a massively lucrative counterfeiting scheme.
Hot and Refreshing
In the 1960s, with sales flagging during the winter, Dr. Pepper ran a marketing campaign suggesting people heat their Dr. Pepper in a saucepan before drinking it. The result tasted pretty good.
The Choicest Cuts
College students compete every year to judge cuts of beef, pork and lamb. No, they don’t compete to see who has the best meat. They compete to see who can judge meat the best. Their judging is judged by judges.
A Brief Spike
Twenty years ago, all of LEGO’s profits came from their Bionicle construction toys. Their traditional bricks, as well as their other associated businesses, made zero profits, combined. By the end of the decade, LEGO discontinued the Bionicle line.
Constant Spit Roast
Napoleon, when at home and living in his palace, did not stick to regular meals. Since he could demand food at any time, and we had yet to invent food preservation and quick reheating, his staff had to keep chickens roasting on a spit continuously in case he was hungry.
Blood Rushes to the Head
A doctor in 1857 believed that masturbation led to seizures. He researched a drug that would keep people from masturbating. He didn’t succeed, but somehow, this drug he stumbled upon actually did treat seizures.
Insurance Form 34
The company Esurance had a cartoon advertising mascot named Erin, which they designed with sex appeal in mind. This strategy backfired. Searching for the mascot (as all companies would like you to do with their mascots) soon returned so many examples of fan-made porn that they crowded out all references to the company. Esurance forced Erin into retirement.
Cheaper Than Cheap
Miracle Whip is a mixture of mayonnaise and salad dressing, which means it can’t be marketed as mayonnaise but can be marketed as salad dressing. It was created as a cheap substitute for mayo, which is ironic, because mayo was itself a very cheap food used for bulking up other dishes.
The Hips Hitch
Scientists have long puzzled over why humans have such narrow hips. Birth has been difficult for thousands of years (but has become much safer recently) thanks to babies’ enormous heads. You might assume evolution would strongly favor large-hipped mothers, but hips never did grow quite big enough.
Quit While You’re Ahead
A man set a fire in an airplane bathroom in 2015 and received a four-year prison sentence. He appealed. The new judges, after reviewing the case, decided to give him nine years in prison.
Our Cheesy Bread?
“Give us this day our daily bread,” says one line of the Lord’s Prayer. At least, “daily” is as good a word as any for that prayer. The word is “ἐπιούσιον” in Greek, and no one’s seen it anywhere else but in that line, so translators had to make up a possible meaning for it.
The Moon looks bigger when it’s closer to the horizon. We don’t really know why. Any answer must have something to do with how we interpret foreground objects differently from background objects, but nothing we’ve come up with explains all the many situations where the Moon rule holds true.
In 1997, McDonald’s cut the price of a Big Mac to 55 cents, so long as you bought fries and a drink along with it. The whole meal now cost less than the burger alone had previously. Diners were reasonably suspicious and now bought fewer Big Macs (with or without meals) than before.
Cheesy Bread II
You might not be surprised to learn that the dish we call “French toast” is not, in fact, French. Stranger, maybe, is that a dozen different countries have the dish, each a different version, some with onion, some with cheese and sometimes served with ketchup.
Germany took millions of coins out of circulation in 2007, broke them apart and sold the metal for scrap. The Chinese scrap metal dealers reassembled the pieces back into coins and deposited them in a German bank, receiving $8.5 million more than they’d paid for the metal.
In 2004, the book The Hidden Messages in Water was a bestseller. It purported to explain how water’s molecular structure is shaped by the emotions and consciousnesses of people around it. So, take comfort in knowing that people 20 years ago were potentially even dumber that we are today.