15 Skillets of Trivia We Fried Up During the Week of February 26, 2024

There’s good news for people who steal packages for a living
15 Skillets of Trivia We Fried Up During the Week of February 26, 2024

In the third century (so the stories say), an assassin gained an audience with Zheng, the first emperor of China. He managed this by arriving with two gifts: a map, and the decapitated head of one of Zheng’s enemies. Then he drew a dagger from the rolled-up map and tried to stab the emperor. No one else in the room was allowed to carry weapons, so it now fell on Zheng himself to fight and kill the assassin.

These are the sort of stories emperors want people to tell about them. Zheng also went through an experience that was a little more embarrassing. Find out about it below, along with news about how restaurants have been tricking you with French fries. 

Fun Guy

In 1956, a vice president at J.P. Morgan headed down to Mexico to do some magic mushrooms. He received external funding for the trip, and he didn’t realize that the money ultimately came from the CIA, as part of their MKUltra project. This was perhaps one of the more happy stories of someone realizing they were secretly being controlled by the CIA.


Skyscrapers lose height over time. They undergo a process called elastic shortening, in which the concrete shrinks under load. Architects have to take this into account, by breaking up elevator rails into segments that’ll slip past each other — rather than a single piece of metal that’ll eventually be longer than the space around it. 

Trash Day

Last month, a New Hampshire woman found herself accidentally thrown into a garbage truck while standing too close to a dumpster. The truck then took on several more loads and turned on its compactor, making it surprising that she was still alive once rescuers finally got her out of there. 

Shower Thoughts

When you turn on your shower, the shower curtain may blow inwards. Scientists don’t know why this is. You yourself can probably propose several explanations, but none of them satisfy scientists when you really break them down. 

The Brandy Myth

Saint Bernards, according to popular myth, run up to lost victims in the snow, carrying barrels of brandy on their necks. They don’t really do this, and alcohol wouldn’t be good for hypothermic ski victims anyway. This myth can be traced to a painting drawn by a 17-year-old in 1831. 

Edwin Landseer

“My kid could paint this!” — Edwin Landseer’s father

Throwaway Luxury

In the 1960s, ads used to promote cans by pointing out that you didn’t need to recycle them. These cans were steel, not aluminum, and throwing them away felt more convenient than dealing with bottles, whose price tacked on a deposit until you returned them to the store. 

Do Not Do This Cool Thing

Vine-Glo was a Prohibition product consisting of grape concentrate, which could be used to make wine. They couldn’t openly market this use, so its label said, “After dissolving the brick in a gallon of water, do not place the liquid in a jug away in the cupboard for 20 days, because then it would turn to wine.”

Aw, ’Chute

In the 1960s, several stunt pilots flew their planes under the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. Then one parachutist jumped out of a plane, hoping to glide between the arch’s legs. He banged into the top of the monument instead and then slid down one leg — to his death. 

Gun Runner

A FedEx driver was sentenced to prison last month for breaking into packages and selling the contents. The items he stole and sold? Rifles and a shotgun. Considering the possible penalties for illegal arms trafficking, he was fortunate to receive only six days in prison

The Smelly End of Emperor Qin

Physicians to China’s first emperor fed him mercury pills to prolong his life. Unfortunately, these pills ended up killing him. To prevent his death from causing a panic, they transported his dead body in a barrel of rotting fish. 

via Wiki Commons

Not that un-fishy corpses smell that great.

Operation Breakthrough

The United States and the Soviet Union collaborated in 1988 on a mission to free three whales stuck in ice off the coast of Alaska. Sadly, their attempts to crack the ice with a five-ton hammer only created a bunch of jagged ice that was even more deadly for the whales.


Police are currently investigating the case of a Pennsylvania man who appears to have decapitated his father. The case against him looks strong: Word of the deed first came out when he posted a video to YouTube, showing the father’s head in a cooking pot

Southern Baby

A woman went to Antarctica in 1977 specifically to give birth. Argentina airlifted Silvia Morella de Palma to a civilian base in Antarctica, figuring that if an Argentinian citizen was born on the continent, it would give Argentina a claim on the land. This did not, in fact, give them a claim on the land, as claims have never worked that way, anywhere. 

The Fry Delusion

The restaurant Five Guys has long had a policy of dumping some loose fries into customers’ bags. These aren’t really “extra” fries; they’re still serving you the exact amount of fries they planned to. But seeing a bunch of fries separate from what’s in the fry container convinces customers they’re getting a bonus. 

Dear Tree

To better organize complaints about which trees need to be pruned or chopped down, Melbourne assigned various trees individual ID numbers and email addresses. These tree inboxes were soon filled with love letters from the public, complimenting the trees and also asking them for advice. 

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