12 Gingham-Covered Bits of Trivia Presented to Us by Paul Hollywood With Little More Than a Cryptic Quip and an Intentionally Insufficient Recipe
For as long as we can remember, listicles have been our entire lives. We never thought we’d make it this far, but somehow we beat out thousands of other applicants, and made it to the big show. Now here we are at the Technical Challenge, where we’re expected to whip up this basket full of arcane trivia tidbits we’ve never seen before into a delectable, artisanal listicle, in 90 minutes, all while Old Greg yells puns in our ears. The pressure is on.
Einstein Was a Bad Tipper
Or at least, he was one time. But it was so shitty, it deserves to be part of his legacy. Instead of tipping a courier actual money, he did the whole “here’s a tip” gag, and wrote on a piece of paper: “A calm and humble life will bring more happiness than the pursuit of success and the constant restlessness that comes with it.” Ugh. Maybe he didn’t have any cash on him at the time; that’s the only way that’s acceptable.
Save Money: Pee in the Shower
A toilet can use between 2 and 7 gallons of water per flush, whereas a standard shower head releases about 2.5 gallons per minute. The average mammal’s piss time is 21 seconds, so even if you cease all shower activity during your wiz, you’re using a fraction of the water to wash it down.
Russia Has a Statue Dedicated to Lab Mice
The Institute of Cytology and Genetics has a big bronze statue of a rodent that looks like Master Splinter had a glow-up, peering over its glasses and knitting a strand of DNA. The artist says the anthropomorphic mouse is a-cookin’ somethin’ up: “If you look closely at her eyes, you can see that this mouse has already come up with something. But the whole symphony of scientific discovery, joy, ‘eureka!’ have not sounded yet.”
Icelandic Babies Nap Outside
In the early 1900s, two things converged on Reykjavík: tuberculosis and baby strollers. Homes were so well-insulated that babies’ lungs were basting in disease (and smoke, and other lung hazards), but strollers offered parents a mobile baby crib to let their (well-swaddled) infants get some fresh air while they napped. It’s still customary today to leave a stroller on your balcony, or on the sidewalk when you’re running errands or getting lunch.
Ben Franklin Wasn’t Just Lecherous, He Was Also Smooth as Hell
Everyone knows Franklin liked to fuck, and it’s speculated that he may have had syphilis. But he wasn’t just a gruff horny weirdo; it’s worth noting that he could be a really cool customer. When a famously sexy widow, Madame Helvetius, was disappointed he wouldn’t hang out with her, he said, “Madame, I am waiting until the nights are longer.” They did end up having a relationship, and he even proposed to her (while still married to his estranged, dying wife, which… Okay, that part’s not cool).
Robin Williams’ Rider Included Employment for Local Unhoused Populations
As Williams gained more Hollywood clout, he included a clause in his rider that any event or film he worked on had to hire unhoused people in some capacity.
A 7-Year-Old Inhaled a Playmobil Traffic Cone (And Forgot About It for 40 Years)
A 47-year-old British man went into surgery for what he thought was lung cancer, but turned out to be the smog-encrusted remains of a little plastic road cone. When he found out what it was, he was like: “Oh yeah, totally forgot to mention that I ‘regularly played with and even swallowed’ these things as a kid.”
The World’s Largest Crowdsourced Compendium of Animal Farts
After a viral tweet in 2017 that asked whether snakes fart (they do), someone started an open Google Doc and invited people to fill it in with their animal fart knowledge. That went viral too, and is now a book. Notable examples include:
Mastodon: No, not anymore
Giraffe: Hell yes, at “face height” of the average man
Parakeets: Maybe, my friend’s parakeet farted in my face when I was 9 years old. (Note: Literature disputes this — see “Birds,” which are purported not to fart)
Marmosets to Their Kids: STFU
Because they’re so tiny and live in thick jungle terrain, marmosets often have to communicate without seeing each other. That means silence is a huge part of their interactions. Baby marmosets learn early not to interrupt or vocalize out of turn — when they do, their parents give them the silent treatment, effectively leaving them completely and utterly alone.
The Guy Who Invented the Revolving Door Was Sick of Door-Based Pleasantries
Theophilus van Kannel was so irked by having to hold doors open for women, and politely argue with other men over who should go first, that he took an existing patent for a “door without draft of air” and beefed it up until it became his own “revolving door.”
Gene Wilder Insisted on Slapstick in ‘Willy Wonka’
It was Wilder’s idea to do that entrance gag where he pretends to be a doddering old man, starts to fall, and does a “beautiful forward somersault.” In fact, he said he wouldn’t take the part unless they agreed to do it. Besides being funny as hell, the idea was that “from that time on, no one will know if I’m lying or telling the truth.”
The BBC Thought They Killed Stephen Hawking
Just before a 2004 interview, a cameraman unplugged something in Hawking’s office, causing a beeping noise from a computer that was shutting down. According to reporter Pallab Ghosh, “Prof Hawking then slouched forward, and I feared that my colleague had inadvertently unplugged a vital piece of life-support equipment.”