12 Brightly-Colored Bits of Trivia We Impulse Bought in the Checkout Aisle
We promised ourselves we were only here for the essentials: data, immutable truths, maybe an anecdote or two if they have especially healthy sources. No trivia. But then we were waiting in line at checkout, and we just couldn’t help ourselves. These factoids are made in a lab to catch our attention! A Seinfeld episode about guns. Umpire underwear. The other Hall of Fame that Wilt Chamberlain is in. How could we resist?
The Royal Crown Has Called Dibs on All Whales Within Three Miles of the U.K.
A law from 1324 that’s still on the books reads, “The king shall have wreck of the sea throughout the realm, whales and sturgeons taken in the sea or elsewhere within the realm, except in certain places privileged by the king.” So don’t let it happen again.
Tennis Used to Look Way Different
When it was invented in 12th-century monasteries, the game was originally played by slapping around leather balls with your bare hands.
‘Seinfeld’ Almost Made a Highly Controversial Episode About Guns
“The Bet” was scripted and slated for production, but the cast and crew “mutinied” after a read-through. The director, who had served in the Navy, said simply, “Guns aren’t funny.” Meanwhile, Julia Louis-Dreyfus objected to a bit where Elaine would simulate a gunshot to the head, complete with exit wound, and call it “The Kennedy.”
The MLB Umpire Dress Code Includes an Underwear Clause
Umpires are required to wear black underwear, so it’ll be less conspicuous if their pants split from all that squatting and gesturing.
Stalin Was the OG Photoshop Girlie
Whenever someone in his orbit became an enemy (or was capitally punished for being labeled a traitor), he’d have his crack team of photograph retouchers remove them from his propaganda pics.
The First Hippie Dates Back to Around 1917
William Pester, possibly the first-ever hippie, was a long-haired, bearded, guitar-plucking free spirit born in 1885. He immigrated from Germany to California, lived in a hut in the desert, and was said to represent “the strong link between the 19th century German reformers and the flower children of the 1960s.” He also may have diddled kids, so, don’t give him too much credit.
The Eiffel Tower Employs 360 Full-Time Staffers
It’s more than just an idle stack of steel. It’s an entire economic ecosystem, employing maintenance workers, tour guides and entire finance, legal and marketing departments.
will.i.am Was the First Artist to Be Broadcast From Another Planet
In 2011, NASA asked him to write a song for Mars. He composed the song “Reach for the Stars (Mars Edition)” — separate from “Reach for the Stars (NASA Edition)” — featuring a 40-person orchestra instead of a soundboard. NASA programmed it into Curiosity, which then broadcast it back to Earth for its galactic premiere.
Polar Bears Aren’t White
Fine, they appear white, you got us. But nothing about their epidermis or fur actually is white. Their skin is black, and their fur is both translucent and hollow, which causes light to scatter in such a way as to look white.
Wilt Chamberlain Is in the Volleyball Hall of Fame
He started playing at age 34, sponsored a couple of traveling teams, became a player/owner of an official International Volleyball Association league team, and eventually won MVP at the IVA All-Star Game.
The British Monarchy Had Royal Asswipes Until the 20th Century
The Grooms of the Stool were a group of servants responsible for monitoring the King’s meals and bowel movements, and, crucially, wiping his ass. Henry VIII reportedly knighted four of his, and one of George III’s went on to become the Prime Minister of Great Britain. Edward VII called an end to the practice in 1901.
Helen Keller Brought the First Two Akitas to America
Keller went on a lecture tour circuit around Japan in 1937. She was gifted an Akita puppy, and instantly fell in love: “As the ship surged into a world he did not know, he transferred his trustful loyalty to me, and such a compliment from an Akita dog made me bow my head in humility.” She brought it home with her — the first time one had ever been in America — but it died of distemper a few months later. The government of Japan sent her a replacement soon after.